For many years now I have meticulously tracked in a spreadsheet all the important things to me that I did that day. It looks like this (and extends out with many more columns and rows):
Today, I decided to correlate one column – Happiness – with each of the other columns. I have rated Happiness on a scale of 1-10 for years each day. I have also rated a number of other things on a scale of 1-10 each day for years. I used Google Sheet’s =correl function to see how Happiness varied in conjunction with other things like sex, workouts, work hours, naps, bed time, caffeine and alcohol use, learning, etc. I applied it for every day of September 27, 2018 through today May 17, 2019… a period of about 8 months.
One important note is that correlation is not causation. I do find it helpful to see what behaviors and daily activities most strongly correlate with happiness though. I also correlated happiness the next day with activities to see which activities cause happiness the day after doing them.
Here are my results:
- The activity with the highest correlation to happiness both the day of (0.52) and the day after (0.24) surprised me… it is how well I got along with my wife Laurel. Apparently the saying “Happy wife, happy life” has some real roots!
- Going to bed at an early time and getting a good night’s sleep had a correlation of 0.27 same day and 0.23 day after happiness.
- The next activity was my workout – the harder workout I did, the happier I was. Same day correlation was 0.24 and day after correlation was 0.09.
- The next activity that truly surprised me was Positive Feedback – giving encouragement and appreciation to people around me was strongly correlated with same day (0.23) and next day (0.20) happiness.
- Personal Reflection, which is a somewhat blurry activity consisting of how thoughtful I was had a correlation of 0.20 same day and 0.12 next day happiness.
- Social interactions were next with a same day correlation of 0.15 and a next day correlation of 0.0.
- Learning new things had a correlation of 0.13 same day and 0.16 next day happiness.
- Caffeine usage had a light positive correlation to happiness at 0.13 same day and 0.0 next day.
Alcohol usage had a strong NEGATIVE correlation to happiness with same day happiness of -0.13 and next day happiness of -0.26. Apparently I should never drink since I am less happy when I do and much less happy the next day.
Activities with very low or no correlation to happiness included Work Hours, Income Growth, Sex, and Blog Posts.