*** Edited to add: I can’t promise this doesn’t cost money. I did receive a random text message about a donkey and it’s peripheral vision and a charge for $9.99, but it gave me the option to cancel payment and the guy who referred this to me hasn’t mentioned being charged for it. So… proceed at your own risk!
Has anyone heard about this?
A coworker shared this article with me awhile back and I was immediately intrigued. Apparently Harvard researchers are using the iPhone to conduct research on mindfulness as it relates to a person’s happiness. The theory is that the more mindful you are when you’re doing something, like exercising or making love, the happier you tend to be.
Alternatively, the study has found that we are at our unhappiest when engaging in activities that allow our minds to wander, like doing menial work on the computer.
Anyone can participate in the study, so of course I was all over it. All you have to do is sign up, answer a short initial survey that asks things about your life, work and financial situation and then you receive three surveys a day wherein you answer questions about how you’re feeling in that exact moment.
These shorter surveys ask about your current mood, what you’re doing, questions about your sleep the night before, etc. and then give you a bit of information as a result – including what activities you are happiest doing, your quality of sleep, who you interact with and how they influence your happiness, and other things.
Want to know what activity ranks the highest for me so far?
I laughed, mostly because that assessment is very accurate. Also because the particular grocery trip (when I got the survey) was a spontaneous trip with Mr. T to buy beer, comfort food (mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and corn bread for me) and ice cream to have for dinner after we finished moving Saturday.
The surveys go on for an extended period of time – right now I’m only at 15% completion or something like that. Then I think you get a complete report of your happiness at the end with all the various intricacies of the mind that have been discovered over the course of the research period.
I think this is fascinating and such an easy way to really understand more about the human psyche.
It’s easy to assume that I’m happy when I’m grubbing on carbs and unhappy after an unsettling phone call with my mom or a fight with Mr. T, but there are other things I’ve discovered that have given me a lot of insight.
So far, it’s shown me that even though I often do things I don’t want to do (OCD cleaning for one), I tend to be happy when, or immediately after, doing those things because I like the feeling of control and accomplishment I get.
So even though I may be in a bad mood while dragging 10 boxes down to the recycling room two at a time (using the stairs to get in a workout of sorts) – I end up happier because I feel good about myself for having done something I value to be hard work.
Also, as the overall theory of the research suggests, I’m happier doing these things because they require focus and determination, so that my mind is not able to wander and think about what else I’d rather be doing, or things I want that I can’t have – which is what I tend to do 99% of the time when I’m sitting at the computer trying to focus on work.
I could keep rambling about this, but I think I’ve said enough and my mind is starting to wander to other blog posts I need to write.
If you’re narcissistic like me and love talking/answering questions about yourself and learning more about what makes you tick, sign up! If nothing else, it’s something to do when you’re sitting on the train or waiting in line at the grocery store.
What do you think about this study and the use of cell phones to gather information? I’d love to hear your thoughts!