This year, I took the AP English Language course, and a couple of summer break homework was tagged behind for me to work on. Amongst the assignments, one was to listen to seven hour-long episodes of the NPR Ted Radio Hour and reflect on them.
For me, it was a very different assignment. I had listened to a few TED Talks before, but it never really went further than that.
This time, however, I did have to listen to them carefully so that I could take notes and answer the questions. Out of the seven, one of the episodes was titled “Simply Happy,” hosted by Guy Raz, which was about how to find happiness.
The episodes explored different reasons why people tend to be stuck in their heads while looking for happiness, and what people can do to make themselves happy. As a few speakers suggested sets of advice, I was convinced.
As I listened, I realized that there are a lot of different ways in this world to find happiness, from staying away from mind wandering and rather staying in the moment, to owning less stuff which would keep you happy.
One of the speakers was Matt Killingsworth, who is a researcher at UC San- Francisco and “studies the causes and nature of human happiness.” He developed an app called “TrackYourHappiness” which makes you mindful of when you are happy and when you aren’t.
I downloaded this app the second I got to know about it. I created an account and set it up. The command which said that the app will run within the next 24 hours, but to my delight, it started working in the next two hours.
So here’s what happened: I got a notification on my phone that asked “How do you feel?” and the trick was that I had to answer the question as soon as I received the message, for the most accurate results.
When I clicked on the notification, it took me to the app and there was a series of simple questions like “How do you feel right now? Where are you? What are you doing? Are you alone?” etc.
I used the app for a few months—in fact, I still have it on my phone, and what I realized was that it forced me to think about happiness at least five times a day, even if I didn’t want to.
I don’t like seeing pending notifications on my screen, so I ended up answering about 90 percent of the questions on time, which was one other pressure added on for my happiness.
Every single time I took out two minutes to answer it, I stopped and thought if I was happy at that moment or not. And if I wasn’t, then I tried my best to change that.
It didn’t really give me a report of how I was doing, but at least, it gave me a second to think about myself every day and constantly reflect.
Personally, I feel like I am a happier person now. I am not sure if it is because of this machine which asks me questions, or whether it is because of other changes I’ve made in my life over the past few months, but whatever it may be, the app did help me think a little deeper.
After using it for a few months, I went back and listened to the “Simply Happy” episode and tried to use some ideas to better myself.
It feels like it’s working!
Image source: Trackyourhappiness
Edited by Victoria Lee