ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

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tracking happiness

For several years, I've been participating in the Track Your Happiness survey project. It's been pretty interesting in a variety of ways (some of which are centered around how not-applicable some of the questions/answers are for me, or weird/confusing questions/answers). The default is it will automatically gather 50 samples from you every 6 months, but you can update the frequency, and after the first few, I took a couple of years off, and then switched to having it only ask me about once a year, because it can be a little intrusive to stop a couple of times a day and answer a bunch of questions.

I'm really enjoying having done it for an extended period of time, though, because I have a different reaction to it and some of the questions than I did when I was in my last (unhappy) job. In particular, I've noticed that though I'm much happier now than I was 3 years ago, I tend to answer the "how good do you feel?" question kind of relative to my current baseline, rather than across a lifetime average, so I think it doesn't capture that over time, and I'm not sure what question would, especially since we can be so bad at remembering our emotional states.

Some of the questions vary from sample to sample, and some they ask with every sample. With every sample, they ask both "Do you WANT to do what you're doing right now?" and "Do you HAVE to do what you're doing right now?" What I've found is that wanting to do what I'm doing is strongly correlated with feeling good, and having to do what I'm doing is more or less irrelevant.

And this time around, I'm finding that the "have to" question itself feels kind of ... irrelevant to my life. I mean, yes, there are plenty of things that I have to do in my life, but I don't HAVE to be doing almost any of them at a particular time. So in general, whatever I'm doing, it's an affirmative choice to be doing it. Yes, I do have to empty the dishwasher, or, yes, I do have to write this email, but no, I don't have to do it right now, so it doesn't have the sense of having to do it. Which I think is largely a matter of my feelings about time and obligations; I think at times in my life when I'm feeling less free, or like I have less agency, I DO feel more like these are things I have to do.

So, each time it comes up on the survey, I'm a little confused about how to answer it! But it's a great opportunity to appreciate that sense of space I have in my life and time.
Tags: good, happy, life

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