A silly question perhaps, but do you think happiness is directly related to our behavior? We all know that effects come from causes and fruit comes from trees and you reap what you sow, but can such a fickle thing as happiness be tied down and understood at all by looking at what we are all actually doing (while being happy or unhappy)?
I'm in the process of trying to find out. I've been getting closer to it with the Morale-o-Meter for a while, but while it has been an interesting toy, I haven't yet come to understand any better how my sleeping, alcoholism, and caffeine addictions have impacted my morale over time. With a few free days, and a lot of frustration as I bang my head on my desk trying to figure out what the hell I'm actually trying to do, I've created a new system for recording and understanding my morale in relation to my behaviors. It's a bit crazy, but my primary goal is to figure this thing out, and for me the best way to try to figure it out is to build a crazy tool that only I'd ever be able to figure out how to use, and, unfortunately, I'm also probably the only person that can figure out what the hell all of the numbers coming out of it stand for. Here's my attempt to explain it.
I've grouped many of my behaviors under umbrella "beliefs" that they support... for example, the reason I want to try new restaurants and go to shows often is because I want to explore the city I live in, and because I think that by exploring the city I live in I will be a bit happier than I might otherwise be.
Then, for each behavior, I rank them within the belief umbrella that they're placed under. For example, I think going to shows is a bit more important than trying new restaurants, and by ranking them this way, going to a show will eventually be worth a little more than trying a new restaurant. Each behavior in the system has a point value relative to other behaviors in the system, which is determined simply by their ranking within a belief, and also the rank of the belief itself relative to other beliefs.
In addition, for each behavior, I set the boundaries for "good behavior", which for now are pretty much arbitrary and just something to start with. I've set the good behavior boundaries for going to new shows at 1-2 per week. If I go to 1 or 2 new shows per week, I get points. If I go to 0, or, say, 3 or more shows a week, I lose points. This goes the same for drinking too much (or too little), not getting enough sleep (or getting too much sleep), not watering my plants, not leaving the country, etc. In this way, it's pretty simple... sometimes I think it's a little too simple. Could this possibly have any value?
Now the crazy part. It's fun to create a point system for real life. But how do you know if it's a good point system? What fun is getting points simply for getting points? Since I'm determining the point system, I can't consider myself to be winning simply because I get a lot of points. So there has to be a way to measure whether or not the points are measuring the right things. And this is where the Morale-o-Meter comes in. Every day I rate my morale, or happiness, on a scale of 1-10. One way to find out if the point system is "accurate" is to see whether or not the points go up when my morale goes up, and the points go down with my morale goes down. If there is a direct relationship between the movement of my morale and the movement of my score, then I know the system is working, and I've not only found that there is a direct relationship between happiness and behavior, but I've also found which behaviors contribute most to the changes in my morale.
I'm guessing that to begin there will be no correlation between these two things. But at least I'll have the bio-feedback mechanism in place to begin to add behaviors, remove them, rank them differently, and try things out. Am I onto something or should I be taken to the looney bin?