100 Days of Data

Early this year, shortly after New Years, I decided to track as much information as I could on myself for a few months to see if it may offer any insight into how I could improve my life (and particularly my happiness levels.) My Masters in Psychology focused on research design and methodology so data is kind of my thing. I shot this short video yesterday giving a brief intro to my '100 Days of Data' Project and I also wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who was so kind to me in my original video!  



The gist of my project was to record as many variables of data that I thought could be impacting my overall mood. I started off with buying a small notebook from Target and kept it by my bed and each night I would record all the information. Every day I would write the following:

- Calories Consumed: Yes this is like a built-in Food Journal. Keeps you accountable and helps you to start learning how many calories are in the items you eat every day!

- Hours Slept

- How much water I drank

- Exercise activity and duration

- What my mood was on a scale of 1-10 for each of the following: Happiness, Sad, Anxiety, and Energy. Keep in mind that you can score a 0 on both Happiness and Sadness. Being low on happiness doesn't necessarily mean you are high on sadness!

- Any other relevant information; if I started a new vitamin, met up with friends after work, meditated, had a particularly stressful event...

{Yes I would write down what I wore or else I'd end up wearing the exact same outfit every day to class and not even realize it!}

I didn't know how long I would keep this up for but I ended up going to 100 days. You really wouldn't be able to extract any meaningful information from it if you did it for less than a month. After the 100 days were up I got some old school graphing paper and graphed each of my 4 emotions. This is an example of what the first 10 days for Happiness may look like (I just used PowerPoint for this):

So once I had all 100 days plotted on the graph I looked to see where my Happiness was particularly high or low. Then I'd go back to the journal and see if I could find any trends that could explain the Happy Highs. I found 2 somewhat surprising results.

1. As I mentioned in the video the data confirmed I love peanut butter. If you take a look at just the one sample day I posted I eat a ton of veggies, complex carbs and fruits. Great overall but I realized from this experiment that I wasn't getting nearly enough Fat as I should in my diet. So, every time I had a 'eat PB out of the jar' kind of day my Happiness and Energy level increased!

2. I was unaware how critical it was for me to do something social on a regular basis. I'm a creature of comfort (still am) and it's sometimes hard for me to break out of my routine or put myself out there but, when I did, my mood would increase not only that day but for days after. Just hanging out with a friend for coffee was enough to keep my spirits up and anxiety lower for at least 1-2 days. Talk about cheap therapy!

There were other correlations I found but those were the two that I really attempted to change in my life after. I think I've done a pretty good job at it and waddya know - I'm happier now than I was a year ago!

If anyone has any questions at all about starting this please let me know! I'm a teacher, I love to help, it's what I do.

Has anyone else ever done a 'self study'? What do you think is the biggest contributing factor to your daily happiness levels?