Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Happiness Scale

I wrote up a "Happiness Scale" a few months back, and showed it to a few people, some of whom said 'hey, I think this might be useful to people other than you, too'. And I thought, 'oh hey, I should clean it up a little and post it publicly.' And then I promptly failed to do so. This happens to me a lot.

In the better-late-than-never vein, however, here it is. It's intended as a tool to help me quantify my mood so I can measure it. So feelings that usually accompany one another are grouped together. One thing I noticed while creating this is that how I feel about myself often correlates to a degree with my mood. When I'm unhappy with my life, I'm often unhappy with myself; the converse is also true. It's not a 1:1 correlation -- nothing on this chart is -- but there's a definite connection. I suspect it's in part because I have a strong sense of being in control of my life and my decisions. So if I'm unhappy, I usually blame myself, and if I'm happy, I usually credit myself.

On another note, the states described are more to serve as a baseline than reflections of my day-to-day experiences. I've never actually attempted suicide, for example.

0: Hate myself and everything about my life. Attempt suicide.

1: Sense of utter uselessness, overwhelming despair, self-hatred, uncontrolled rage. Inablity to cope with trivial problems. Inflict deliberate (very minor) injuries on myself.

2: Self-hatred, despair, anger at self, hatred of life, belief that I deserve to suffer, inability to see how I could ever be happy again. Intense guilt over real and imagined failings. Frequent fantasies of suicide and self-mutiliation. Usually external factors are involved in moods of 2 or below.

3: Misery with a dull resignation. Unwillingness even to attempt to feel better. At 3 and below, there's a sense of worthlessness that means I don't try to improve my mood: "I deserve to suffer, and therefore there's no point in cheering up because it's right for me to be miserable." This doesn't yield to normal strategies for improving because I lack the motivation to employ them. Mostly I soldier through on the basis of "this too will pass".

4: Muted misery. Lack of interest in leisure activities as well as work. Acute longings for things I do not have. Lack of appreciation for things I do have. Guilt over lack of appreciation of same. Guilt over being in a bad mood is less of a problem now than it was when I was younger. I still feel guilty about being unhappy sometimes, but mostly I succeed at stopping that cycle with a mantra of "making myself unhappy because I am unhappy is SO counterproductive".

5: Mild dejection, general indifference. Nothing matters very much. Difficulty in enjoying the company of others. Leisure activities are somewhat pleasant, expected required activities are met with distaste and/or avoidance. Unexpected/atypical but required activities are met with irrational anger and downward mood spikes.

6: Mild engagement. Leisure activities are pleasant, expected required activities are tolerable and may engage my interest.

7: Content. Leisure activities are a source of joy. Expected required activities may engage my interest, though boredom and avoidance are still common. Unexpected/atypical but required activities make me grumble but are manageable. Belief that life is good and all my difficulties are manageable. Like myself and consider myself a decent person.

8: Happy. Required activities engage my interest and I feel little desire to avoid or escape them. Keen appreciation for my life and the good things that are in it. Sense of capability. Unexpected obligations are not a problem. Belief that the problems in my life are minor and unimportant. 7-8 is pretty much the range I am hoping for. Higher would be great; I would like for my default to be 9. But when I put down "Be happy" as a New Year's Resolution, I meant "be generally content and satisfied with life."

9: Joyful. Life is great. Love everything that I do. Engaged with all activities of every kind. I seldom have this kind of mood for more than a few hours at a time, and usually it's the result of unusual and/or unexpectedly good circumstances. But occasionally I will be at this level for several days for no particular reason; the beginning of this year was like that.

10: Esctatic. <3 <3 <3 Everything is wonderful. Bursting with sense of tremendous joy, pleasure, wonder, love. I really don't think this is a sustainable mood; it's the sort of mood that only happens at the beginning of a requited love affair or an unexpected and wonderful event. I get occasional random flashes of it that last for a few minutes now and again, though.

Another thing I noticed was that other people have very different mood-correlations. Lut's moods don't match mine at all, for example, and it was interesting to have a way of framing that difference. So I don't know how useful this particular scale would be to people in general, but it might be the kind of thing that's useful to build for yourself and then track for a while. The main thing I liked about it was that it gave me a sense of perspective. After I'd been using it for a couple of months, I could go back and add everything up and get a sense of the big picture, an idea of what the forest looked like that wasn't blocked by the trees closest to me.

Of course, then I stopped using it back in September. >:) But I've still kept a little of that perspective anyway. It was an interesting experiment.
Tags: life, mood
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