How Happy Are You? Do you want more happiness?

how happy are you?How happy are you?

Do you know? Are you happier today than you were last week? Do you see yourself as becoming happier with every passing year? Are you happier than you were before you had kids? Do you want more happiness in your life? I have a simple idea that will answer all of these questions and help you become a happier mom.

You Get What You Measure

In graduate school, I had a statistics professor (thank you Dr Tutchings) teach me that “you get what you measure.” The long winded explanation was that the act of measuring something alters it. Because people know that you are measuring tardies, they work harder not to be tardy. So tardiness decreases the minute it’s measured. That’s a bad thing if you are a social scientist or heavily involved in process improvement.

It’s a good thing in real life.

The minute I start measuring how many shoes my kids leave by the front door, they stop leaving them there. Problem solved.

The minute I start tracking what I eat, my eating habits improve. Genius.

Whether you understand my professor’s long-winded explanation, you’ve seen this powerful principle in action in your life. It may have been tardiness, eating habits, or a financial budget. It may have been something else entirely. You have benefited from the process of measuring and documenting something.

So why is happiness any different?

The first time I came across this concept, it was in an old book by Pam Young and Peggy Jones called The Sidetracked Sisters’ Happiness File. Pam and Peggy are the original S.H.E. sisters that FlyLady bases her amazing system on. Their system uses index cards. It’s a little dated because it was written in the seventies, but it’s still solid stuff.

Anyway, their Happiness Files book is no longer in print. You can find used ones pretty easily if you are curious (amazon used books or try your library). It’s actually a cool book with some useful ideas in it.

The concept? (sorry, i got sidetracked) Track how happy you are.

Their suggestion was to assign a number for each day that represented how happy you were for the day. They used a scale of 1 to 10.

A “one” could represent a day where a family member died, you lost your job, AND your house burned down. A “ten” could represent getting married AND winning the lottery.

Write it down each day on a calendar (or index card or in an app). Then each week (month, quarter, year) take a look at your average happiness number. You can tell quickly if you are getting happier in your everyday life. At bedtime, just ask yourself “how happy are you” and then jot down the number.

Ladies, this works.

Because I do this, I can tell you definitively that I am happier now (last month’s average = 6) than I was as a working mom with kids in child care (4). I can tell you I am happier at home in the midst of re-model mess (6) than in a clean hotel room with 2 kids (3). I can look and tell you that I’m less happy in January than October (sunshine deprivation). I can tell you that PMS makes me unhappy.

Realistically, I doubt my average would ever be higher than an 8. Based on my scale, I’d never have a “1” or a “10” day. I certainly wouldn’t have a bunch of them in a row.

I can also tell you it works because it stinks to write down a “3” for the day.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled a yucky day out of the toilet just because I didn’t want to write down a low number. It may seem like cheating, but it isn’t. The goal is to be happier in life, remember? It works because it gives me perspective. So what if Monday morning ranked a 2 on my happiness scale, I know that last Thursday ranked an 8!

Because each person has their own internal scale, it’s not possible or healthy to compare “happiness numbers” with another person. If you find yourself having too many days in a row with a score under 4, it may be time to seek help. At the very least, find a find friend to confide in and ask others to pray for you during your season of unhappiness. I’m not a mental health professional, so you need to use common sense and good judgment.

So tell me, how happy were you this week?

 

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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