The Happiness Experiment

Have you ever actually tried to find out what makes you happy?

You can find out what makes you happy by following a daily, quantifiable happiness exercise. I’ve done it myself, and it put a lot of life in perspective.

Happiness is subjective, okay? there is no true way to quantify it. The best way to find out what makes you happy is proactively discovering something about yourself each and every day. What I’ve discovered about myself by taking part in this happiness experiment marginally changed the way I look at life. In any case, here’s the Happiness Experiment:

All it takes is three thoughts every day

Each night as you’re unwinding, before you pick up your book (I’m re-reading Huck Finn) or turn on your Wednesday night TV shows, grab a pen and a notebook. Write down 3 things that made you happy earlier that day; no more, no less. Repeat this process each night, in the same notebook so all of your logs are in one place. I put a quote by the Dalai Lama on the front of my journal seen below.

And there you go. You’re on your way to figuring out what makes you happy.

In order for this to work properly, it takes some dedication over an extended period of time.

No matter what, you need to write down 3 things that happened in the same day that made you happy before you go to sleep each night. The first week for me was easy. Second and third week became routine. Then, I had a rather shitty week and finding happiness day-to-day seemed impossible. I became overwhelmingly ashamed because there were some days when I truly thought nothing made me happy; this will happen to you too.

If you look hard enough, you can find happiness in places you’d never expect to find it.

After a few months, if you’ve logged 3 happy thoughts each day, you’ll have a fairly large data set. Now, group the entries together in a few overarching categories. Some of mine included: companionship, intimacy and health. Feel free to use those or come up with your own.

Once you’ve batched all of the entries the best you can within the main categories, voilà, you can see right in front of you what has made you the most happy over the time you spent logging in your “Happy Book”.

I’ve been doing this (almost) every night for years now and every time I read back over the my happiness journal logs, by-and-by, I’m astonished about the trends that unravel. 3 sentences, a notebook and about 10 minutes a day will help you discover more about yourself than you think.

Here are my biggest self discoveries from The Happiness Experiment:

- Drinking has very little influence on what makes me happy.
- Talking to my family has become much more important as I grow older.
- Eating good food is an integral part of my life.
- I like to watch and help things grow — people, plants, ideas, skills, etc.