Leave it to the peeps at Harvard.
They always think everything can be boiled down to a scientific study!
And apparently, happiness is no exception to that school of thought – and one researcher studying for his doctorate at Harvard is using technology to document people’s levels of happiness.
These days, you can conduct scientific research as long as your subjects are equipped with an iPhone.
The study is called Track Your Happiness. Here’s how it works.
You set up an account and answer a handful of demographic questions and questions about your current level of satisfaction with various aspects of your life.
Then you tell Track Your Happiness your phone number or email address, and how many times a day you’re willing to be pinged about how you’re feeling at that moment.
So, for the heck of it, I signed up. They give you important rules once your account is set up. You have to respond as soon as possible, you have to report how you felt the moment just before you were pinged, any response is better than no response, and, most importantly, only respond when it is safe to do so. Hint: tracking your happiness while driving could lead to unhappiness, in the form of a police stop, car accident or swerving.
About an hour later, I had a message in my email that Track Your Happiness wanted me to respond to my first “survey.” I was asked a series of questions with radio button answers about what I was currently doing and whether I was doing it voluntarily, or procrastinating, or happy about it, and so on. I happened to be picking my kids up at the time, so, while it wasn’t really voluntary, I was happy to see them after their day at school.
The application also asked me questions about what time I went to bed and woke up the night before.
I chose my answers and sent them off. When I have a few surveys in the system, it’s supposed to tell me when and why I am happy.
Shouldn’t I know this already?
While I’m scrubbing toilets? Not happy.
When I am surfing the Internet? Happy.
Eating a good meal? Happy.
Eating too much of a good meal? Not happy.
It will be interesting to see what they spit back at me after a few days of these surveys. I really am curious whether it tells me something I don’t already know.
I also wonder for what time period I’ll be able to stand being bothered via email to tell a computer how happy I am. We’ll see. I am guessing it’ll last about three days.
What do you think of Track Your Happiness? Any interest in participating?