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Hacking happiness


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In an attempt to derive my personal formula of happiness, I tested a couple of psychological and behavioral theories. Follow this and my other Quantified Self experiments on my blog

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Hacking happiness

  1. 1. Hacking Happiness  Quantified Self NYC Meetup # 19 February 20, 2013 Konstantin Augemberg
  2. 2. Measured Me• personal initiative• life optimization through self-quantification and personalanalytics• n= me, but methods are open-source (n = you!)Life Optimization Theory• everyday life can be quantified• determine major life components Yi (health, happiness,relationships, success, financial solvency, etc.): life = ∑y i ,• isolate major internal and external factors Xj(psychological, physical and cognitive states, habits, weather,etc.) that influence each life aspect: y i = f(x 1, .. , x j )• optimize these factors ==>max(life)
  3. 3. Happiness: Life’s Ultimate ObjectiveFunction?• express happiness objectively (quantify)• identify life factors that maximize happiness• derive the happiness formula: to describe or even predict
  4. 4. Theories Tested:• Ryff’s Theory of Psychological Well-being• My Values Dissonance Theory• My Lifestyle TheoryMethod:• Self-Tracking• 34 days (December 29 – January 31)Analytics:• Correlation is not causation, but it sure is a hint (EdwardTufte)
  5. 5. Quantifying Happiness• 10-point sliding scale (rTracker App)• How happy was I this morning/afternoon/evening?
  6. 6. Ryff’s Theory of Psychological Well-Being• Six Dimensions of Psychological Well-being :  Self Acceptance  Autonomy  Environmental Mastery  Meaningful Goals  Personal Growth  Quality Social Ties• 54 questions (medium form) or 84 questions (long form)• Advantage of n = 1 research: shorter questionnaires
  7. 7. Ryff’s Theory of Psychological Being• Three times a day (morning, afternoon, evening)• 10-point “sliding scale” (rTracker app)  Confident in opinions and actions (AUTONOMY)  Life has a meaning and purpose (MEANING)  In charge of situations (MASTERY)  Learning and growing (GROWTH)  Accept myself as I am (SELF-ACCEPTANCE)  Not alone in this world (SOCIAL TIES)
  8. 8. Ryff’s Theory of Psychological Being* Linear regression coefficients
  9. 9. Ryff’s Theory of Psychological Being:Conclusion• Happiness is about being in control, being independent,having a meaningful life, and developing personallyHappiness = Independence + Purpose + Mastery + Growth
  10. 10. Values Dissonance Theory• Personal Values = “guiding principles in your life”• Schwart’z Values Theory• Measured in terms of importance• Some values are more important than othersTheory: “values dissonance” (not being able to live accordingto your values) causes unhappiness
  11. 11. Values Dissonance Theory• Morning/Afternoon/Evening• How Important (10-point)• How Satisfied (10-point)• Dissonance = IMP - SAT
  12. 12. Values Dissonance Theory* Linear regression coefficients
  13. 13. Values Dissonance Theory: Conclusion• Happiness is about being independent, having a meaningfullife, expressing myself and being healthyHappiness = Independence + Purpose + Creativity + Health
  14. 14. Lifestyle TheoryHave you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round, or listened to rain slapping the ground?Ever followed a butterflys erratic flight, or gazed at the sun fading into the night?You better slow down, dont dance so fast, time is short, the music wont last.Do you run through each day on the fly, when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?When the day is done, do you lie in your bed, with the next hundred chores running through your head?You better slow down, dont dance so fast, time is short, the music wont last.Ever told your child, well do it tomorrow, and in your haste, not see his sorrow?Ever lost touch, let a friendship die, cause you never had time to call and say hi?You better slow down, dont dance so fast, time is short, the music wont last.When you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there.When you worry and hurry through your day, its like an unopened gift thrown away.Life isnt a race, so take it slower, hear the music before your song is over. “Slow Dance”, by David Weatherford
  15. 15. Lifestyle Theory• Daily• How Much Time Spent
  16. 16. Lifestyle Theory* Spearman rank correlations
  17. 17. Lifestyle Theory Cause or Effect ?* Spearman rank correlations
  18. 18. Lifestyle Theory: Conclusion• Happiness is associated with spending more time with thepartner and dog, and working less. The rest is unclear.• Revise methodology! Happiness = Partner+ Dog – Work + ?
  19. 19. Conclusions and Implications• No solid conclusions yet•Happiness can be quantified, and so the factors that influence it• Pieces of the puzzle are coming together• Independence and ability to control and handle life situations(resilience?) seem to be the key drivers• More theories to test• More time to accumulate more data points• n= me, so models may work differently for others
  20. 20. Thank you! Follow my experiment at