Improving Health and Happiness, through the Quantified Self

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The Quantified Self movement is easily the bridge between big data analytics and personal applications. In fact, the focal point is now tilting towards making big data as personal as possible – through wearables becoming the recording equipment, along with suitable data aggregator and analysis services, lifeloggers are able to effectively capture and assess the nuances of their life in an intricately elegant manner.

But above everything, to make QS as effective as possible, one really has to understand the driving forces for lifeloggers: satisfaction, health and happiness. And the latter shall be the crux of this article, wherein this author tries to explore how the Quantified Self movement and its principles can effectively help in improving happiness.

IT’S ALL ABOUT MOOD TRACKING

Now mood tracking has established itself as one of the more obscure forks of lifelogging in general, but it is in fact turning out to be one of the most important ones. Every fundamental activity that goes into lifelogging helps measure how much a person has improved over some time, and keeping that in mind measuring the emotion levels are also of vital importance.

I’ve already discussed the methodologies that go into mood tracking in a separate article, but for now let it suffice to say that mood tracking comes with a host of benefits – primarily ranging from early detection and even avoidance of psychological problems and stress. The primary objective is to maintain a positive act of improvement – both physically and psychologically.

 

CROWD FUNDING FOR THE HAPPY SOUL

Much akin to the terminology of crowd funding followed for startups, effective happiness improvement and even mood tracking for that matter depends on community involvement – a crowd fund in the form of motivation, if you will.

The key to achieving happiness effectively is to reach goals in a quantified manner, and to do so a great approach is to announce your intentions and goals to a group of close knit people, or even the world at large. Through applications such as Lift, Beeminder, Gympact and StickK depend on accountability based influence, wherein motivation is the driving force and is directly proportional to how much effort is put into the activity.

In fact, even small habits such as keeping and maintaining new year’s resolutions improve the overall mental health and keep the body pepped up to achieve bigger and better goals in a quantifiable approach.

TRACKING HAPPINESS

The fundamental of staying happy, and applications in turn recording the happiness, depend on methodologies of karma in general. For example, uGooder is a platform that relies on the user having to broadcast good deeds that they might have accomplished, in order to gain badges in a simple form of gamification.

Additional applications, such as Track Your Happiness, depends on the involvement of questionnaires and surveys to better gauge the lifelogger’s happiness levels. The questions are asked at random intervals, to get the understanding of the user’s emotional state at that particular point in time. This can also help in filtering out which factors cause the individual to be happy.

In fact, even maintaining a gratitude journal can help anyone go the extra mile in achieving an overall positivity of the mind.

Why is the whole act of tracking happiness important? Simply put, if you’re able to track the times and places when you were happy, you’ll likely be able to figure out which things make you happy. Including more of such positive factors in your daily life would help in improving the overall quality, while at the same time boosting your morale and motivating you to work better to achieve those goals.

And honestly, I believe this fundamental to be the next frontier for tracking and achieving happiness in the near future. What if tracking instruments – be it wearables and mobile phones – could correlate health stats, hormone levels, time, place and other factors to get a better idea of when the lifelogger feels most positive? This would in turn give the lifelogger a good idea when to perform important tasks effectively, because the body works best when the mind is at its most positive and motivated state.

Taking this a step further, is to better understand employee mindsets within workplaces. Employers could understand driving forces which keeps the workforce motivated, and work to include more of such factors to make the humdrum 9 to 6 job a tad bit more interesting and even more fruitful.

As always, the aim is to achieve goals and targets in as quantified, as efficient a manner, and the best way to go about this would be to inculcate a positive atmosphere within a workplace, to keep the workforce happier and healthier.

BOTTOM LINE

Understanding and tracking happiness can be an effective means of understanding quantifiable metrics. And at the end of the day, understanding which conditions and mindsets enable a person to be most productive would undoubtedly lead to a better, more positive and more efficient Quantified Self.

Further Reading: http://mashable.com/2012/10/08/the-power-of-quantified-self/#B02Xz0618GqK

Cover Image credits: Aquasixio, Deviantart

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Nivedit Majumdar

An analyst for the Emberify blog, Nivedit is a technophile and a blogger. He likes to observe new technology trends and write about them. Know more: about.me/niveditm