Daily Happiness - Don't Obsess Over It

Jordan Brown

Do you want to be happy?

I know I do.

Here's a question: How should we look at our lives if we want to be happy?

This is what a lot of people do. They focus on the moment they're in, and then they get frustrated when they're not happy right now.

Instead, you have to learn to take a step back and see your happiness in trends over the long-term.

Follow along. I'll take you through my day and share an example from my job.

The Day-to-Day of Happiness

Let's go through one day in my life.

I wake up. I stumble over to the kitchen and drink water and then start brewing some coffee. I get dressed for work. And then I typically sit down and write something for The Mental Health Update.

After that, I start working at my job and attempt to follow my daily plan to the best of my ability. But what happens? Inevitably, the day goes in directions that I couldn't have predicted. Anything can happen on any day at any time. There's only so much I can control.

Sometimes, something extraordinary happens, and it's memorable and makes me feel happy in the moment. But that's rare. Often, it's the ups and downs of a normal day.

At the end of the day, I can take a step back and ask myself, "Was I happy today?"

And I don't really know.

Sure, there were moments of happiness. But, overall, it was a somewhat typical day full of the usual, jagged ups and downs. It's hard to gain a solid sense of my own happiness when I'm only narrowed in on the day-to-day.

I have to use a different approach.

Spotting the Trends of Happiness

What I really need to be asking--and what I encourage you to ask yourself--is this: "Am I happy from week to week and from month to month?"

Because it's only over the long-term that you can get an accurate sense of your overall happiness.

But first, an example of the wrong kind of happiness tracking.

At my job, I help small businesses improve their rankings online. Many business owners obsess over their daily ranking fluctuations on Google. I repeatedly tell them to NOT do this. Looking at your daily ranking fluctuations is like trying to base your happiness on the stock market--you just can't do it. The ups and downs of daily life will always happen. What these business owners need to consider is if their Google rankings are trending upward over periods of three months, six months, and longer.

And that's true for you when you're tracking happiness.

If you just focus on daily happiness, you'll drive yourself mad. There's just too much fluctuation. But when you look at the past three months of your life, one whole quarter of a year, you can start to see happiness trends.

It's from this zoomed-out approach that you get a better idea of if you are making decisions that are making you happy. You can start to see patterns. You get big-picture information.

So, the next time you worry about whether you're happy RIGHT NOW, take a step back.

Look at the last three months of your life. And then look at the last three years. Are you consistently putting yourself on a path to happiness? Or are you not making the right decisions for yourself?

Don't get stuck in the day to day.

Focus on the weeks, months and years of your life.

That's where you'll find the most valuable emotional data.