How To Find Out How Happy You Really Are

My 2-year old grandson says “my G’ma is happy.”  Strangers constantly comment on my personal demeanor and friends like to be around me for…aka, my happiness.    So 3 years ago I set out on a quest to find out exactly how happy I really was and create a system that others could use to find out how happy they really were.

I call it The Happiness Factor.   (And yes, I do own the trademark.)

It’s so simple a 3rd grader can do it.  And it mimics something you’d find in a kindergarten class with happy, sad and straight face stickers.  You don’t have to have any special skills or use any sophisticated software.  And I don’t have an app for the IPhone, yet.  I use a simple paper planner.

At the end of each day, I simply grade the entire day with a happy, a sad or a straight face.

Happy is good.

Straight is neutral.

Sad is bad.

At the end of each month, I’d figure out how many of each kind of day I had.  Out of the 31 days total, 27 were happy, 2 were so-so (neutral) and 2 were sad (or bad)

At the end of the year, I tallied the months to get my overall Happiness Factor.  Out of 365 days total, I had 321 happy days, 25 neutral days and 18 sad days.

The happy quotient is where you get the Happiness Factor number.  321/365 = 88%.

My Happiness Factor is 88%.  (The hardest part of this entire system is remembering to assign your grade at the end of the day)

An 88% Happiness Factor is pretty dang good, which would explain why people constantly comment on my personality and demeanor.    It’s pretty natural for me and something I am blessed to bring to the world.   Not everyone has this gift.

But, here’s where it gets interesting.

When I knew I was receiving a grade, there were days that I ‘saved’  myself from receiving a bad or neutral score.  A day that had started out on a really sour note (maybe I’d gotten an unexpected bill or someone was really rude to me) could be turned around by lunch.  I focused on finding good things…things that made me happy like having dinner with my grown daughter or finding a deal at the thrift store that could immediately help turn things around.

Which showed me, you hold the power to create your own happiness.

Abraham Lincoln said “most people are about as happy as they make up their minds up to be.”    And if you know history, Lincoln suffered from depression and setbacks for a good part of his life.

Happiness was part of the Declaration of Independence.  Our 56 founding fathers of the 13 original colonies penned “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”    They believed happiness was more important than prosperity, success, tolerance or understanding.   I do too.

We all have days that are naturally going to be sad or bad.  There isn’t anything you can do about them.  Like the day my Dad died and the day we buried him.  I didn’t even want to turn those days around.  I needed to mourn.

I go a step further on my own personal Happiness Factor and write down really significant and really bad events in the margins of my planner.  At the end of each month I have a document that tells me why life mattered that month, more than a chronology of events and times.   At the end of each year I can recollect each and every month and compile a list of the year’s significant moments.  My husband envies me.

The Happiness Factor is simple.  Keep track of your happy faces, your straight faces , and your sad faces.    Add them up.  Figure your percentage of monthly happiness by keeping a tally of the happy days divided by the number of days in the month.  Then, do the math to add all 12 months together to get your annual Happiness Factor.

Why does happiness matter?  Because these silly yellow faces tell the story of your life.

Cheryl Thompson is a quintessentially happy woman (88% of the time), the  author of What a Difference a Dream Makes and Fire Your Boss! The 19 Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success.  Stop by to get your daily dose of encouragement at her blog  www.encouragementtogo.wordpress.com

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