It seems clear to me as I take my trip through tracking my health, my weight, and my activity for a year that one of the things that will impact how successful I am is my attitude.   Obviously moods change from day to day, and I am kind of interested in how it changes, and how those changes effect the other things that I am tracking.  Will being in a good mood help me stay on track with my health goals?  Will staying on track with my health goals improve my mood?  How does my attitude change with the trends I’ll observe in diet, sleep, exercise, work, etc?    I’m really excited to try and find out, but the question remains:

How do you track happiness?

It’s difficult to think about recording your feelings in the morning in the same way you might record your weight.  It just doesnt work.  “Hey, I feel really 74 out of 100 today!!”  Emotions are too multi-dimensional to score in a single number.

As it turns out, there are people out there who have tried to do exactly that.  One I have been trying for the last week or so is called Moodscope. Moodscope is a cute little website designed to help you track your feelings on a given day.  They ask you to answer 20 questions a day: each question is a feeling (like ‘inspired’, ‘angry’, or ‘joyful’), and you answer whether you feel it not at all, a little, quite a bit, or extremely.   The interface is a card that you flip around until your answer is at the top and then click it:

It’s fun the first time or two, but honestly can get a bit tedious after that.  The data entry takes about 3 times as long as it should due to the cutesy card interface, and often try to ‘trick’ you by asking two of the same questions in a group of 20 (I know that is a way to assess data quality , but it feels like either trickery or incompetence to me).

Anyway, they add up your 20 answers into a single score (your moodscope, I guess).  Typically, everything I felt was either ‘a little’ or ‘not at all’ (I tend not to get too irritable or enthusiastic first thing in the morning) and my score is hovering around 50.  It feels unsatisfactory and arbitrary.  I doubt I will keep up with this.

So what other options are there?   It is interesting to me to think about where Moodscope fails (for me).  They send me an email in the morning to answer these questions, but mood changes throughout the day.  I think more effective would be a tool that sends me a text at random times assessing my attitude.  Something I can reply to super fast, with a minimum amount of effort.  That might be useful.    I’ll keep looking.

This woman (8 minute video) came up with her own system.  She rates mood on a scale of 1 to 5 (same as Netflix, but backward! :):

It’s hard to see, but her scale is pretty funny as described:

1: Great.  Over-the-moon, birthday cake  and unicorns exist

2: Good.  Fresh lemonade and sunshine.

3. Neither. Meh.

4. Bad. Nothing is funny.  Grey skies.

5. Horrid.  Lost the winning ticket and ice cream doesn’t exist.

She records her mood on this scale 3 times a day 5 hours apart, all on post-it notes, by programming her cell phone to alarm her.  The post-it also recorded what she was doing at that time.  She correlated it with other things she was doing, like interacting with friends, family or taking public transit.  She seemed to learn quite a bit about herself, and she credits the mood tracking with helping her to make some important life decisions like her career path, her relationships and which train to take!   I recommend the video, she comes across as really convincing and kind of sweet.  She says she has an iPhone app but I couldn’t find it in the App Store.  I’d definitely try it out!

Finally, I’ll leave you with a fun little project I read about while researching this:  a building in Berlin that tries to read the mood of the people passing the building and display it as a smiley or frowny face.  There is scant detail on the ‘science’ they are using, but it makes for a great visual: