My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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Does a happiness project actually give a happiness boost?

SmilieyfaceOne key question about my happiness project is: does it work? I’m doing all these things, trying to follow all my resolutions, is it making any difference?

My answer is—absolutely. I absolutely feel happier today than I did a year ago.

But, I have to admit, I recently read about a study that showed that people who participate in psychotherapy, or in programs to lose weight or to stop smoking, often claim a lot of benefit—even though on average they improve only modestly. Apparently when people spend a lot of time, money, and energy on a program, they conclude that they’ve seen a lot of improvement. Memory is a tricky thing.

This may also be related to the “placebo effect”—that is, treatment sometimes works because people expect it will work.

After I read about that study, I thought, “Well, maybe I haven’t had as big a boost in happiness as I think I have.”

When I consider my three prongs of happiness–feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right–I score higher, lower, and higher. So that seems to prove that I am happier, in some sort of scientific way.

But then I realized: even if I just think I’m happier, isn’t that enough to mean that I am happer? Even apart from the objective changes that make my life “better” whether or not they bring me happiness day to day—weight-training, tidier apartment, less nagging and yelling, etc.