Happiness? There’s an App for That
It turns out, money doesn’t buy happiness. In fact, as Daniel Gilbert pointed out in his book Stumbling on Happiness, humans are famously bad at predicting what will make us happy, because of logic-processing errors in our brands. So what does create the conditions for happiness? A new research project by doctoral student Matt Killingsworth out of Professor Gilbert’s Hedonic Psychology Laboratory at Harvard is enrolling anyone with an iPhone to find out. Volunteer research subjects can register their moods through the Track Your Happiness app to learn what factors for you personally associate with a happier state of mind.
How does it work? After you sign up on the website, Track Your Happiness sends you text messages 3-5 times a day asking questions like, “How happy are you right now?”, “How focused are you on your current task?”, “Do you want to do what you’re doing?”, “What time did you go to sleep last night?” The payoff for participating in the project is the Happiness Report, which are charts and graphs that help you figure out what aspects of your life cause you to feel happy, or not happy at all.
I learned that I’m happy when I’m actually doing work, writing, researching, playing with my daughter, and eating at restaurants with my family, but not so happy when I’m thinking about work, travelling, or excessively multitasking. I suppose I should put down this computer right now, take off my headphones, finish my dinner, and cuddle with the child in my lap. What makes you happy?