Why we track

At the Mood breakout session at the QS conference we talked about mapping trajectories of emotions, and how negative feelings are often part of achievements or larger experiences about which we are happy. People shared experiences – of writing, developing applications, putting together conferences, and starting a family – that often involved anxiety, dread, frustration, along with initial excitement and eventual satisfaction. The happiness movement prioritizes positive emotion as an end goal. It’s had its critics all along, but recently the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, has provided a more nuanced view of how happiness fits into what really matters. In his book Flourish, emotions are considered in terms of how they serve relationships, achievements, engagement, and meaning. So applications that raise emotional self awareness can help us think about a wider set of questions. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve resumed mood mapping. When I tap anywhere in the left side of the Mood Map, a couple of reactions come up: why are so many dots over there, why is this app making me confront this feeling and is this negative dot potentially part of a positive arc? Curious about whether mood tracking is helping anyone not run away from, not banish bad moods…

Great question, Margie! I definitely find that tracking my mood (in written form) helps me to more clearly see both my positive and negative states and to get curious about them. Why am I so much more energetic today? or Why does it feel like the floor just fell out from under me? Usually these kinds of questions bring up new, valuable insights.

I’m also of the belief that you can’t control your emotions, but you can control what you focus on and what you do. So seeing the moods change is good practice for mindfully letting whatever emotion is there be there, without resisting it and trying to push it away. Resistance will only make it stronger and more disruptive. I try to welcome all emotions, and also to not excessively dwell on them - a paradox maybe, but a helpful balance to keep working towards.

I haven’t read Flourish, but will check it out now - thanks for the recommendation!

Margie, I found that it works for me to break happiness concept down into multiple not related categories, so when I feel badly about one of them, my overall happiness is not impacted that much, because all other categories are the same as before or fluctuate just a little.
To Alexandra’s point, it definitely helps to describe what triggers negative emotions. Very often minor events or even our mindtrips trigger bad mood, which is extremely subjective, but when I measure my happiness categories, it grounds me, reminding how good many spheres of my life are in comparison to few I’m not totally satisfied with.

As I mentioned at the QS conference, happiness accounts for only 30% of logged feelings of all gottaFeeling users (on average); so “negative” emotions are an important part of the mix!

I started tracking because I did not want to destroy myself. That was years ago. Happiness was not in the equation. I just did not want ‘unhappiness’ (there is a difference).

The reasons have changedfor me now. However, stickiness was not created by what is typically talked about.

I believe many designers and the movement as a whole miss a large group of ‘negative affectives.’ Those of us that DNA did not deal a good hand of cards.

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These comments and mindfulness research suggest value in tracking, but not identifying with, a wide range of emotions. to the point that happiness and unhappiness are separate dimensions, i wonder if anyone has experimented with entering positive and negative moods simultaneoulsy on “My Mood Map.” The ability to enter two moods was intended, but many people report it to be as a bug :).

To learn to better deal with that “Blackdog” that seems to haunt my life. I use Optimism online. www.optimismonline.com