Humans are experts at making distinctions and identifications because it makes life manageable. For example, below are two images, a nice looking watch and a broken one.
Which one would you prefer owning? The one on the left of course; the contrast between them is clear.
Yet, it’s interesting that such a clear distinction is not nearly so simple when determining perhaps the most important question of all: The quality of our own lives. If our life is good, or if it’s bad, or mediocre, or amazing, etc.
How would you answer that? If someone asked you: What’s the quality of your life?
I’m guessing it’ll take a little longer to answer that than figuring out which watch you would have preferred owning, because “The Quality of Your Life” question covers a lot, your sensory driven feelings, your sense of purpose, your deeper emotions, your place and time in history, and so on and so on.
This is of course due to the fact that the emotional experience of life resides in the realm of abstraction. Plus, the elements that encompass one’s life is numerous and often complex.
But is there really no simple way of judging the quality and happiness of one’s life?
Well, yes, there is. It’s called the Happiness Meter. And it works like this:
If “1″ represents the suffering experienced under torture, and “10″ represents the pinnacle of ecstasy, take a hypothetical month of your life and average out where your emotional state generally resides on that numerical spectrum.
It’s quite an interesting experiment the first time you try it.
But what’s a good number to be “scoring” at? What number represents a good life?
The answer is somewhat subjective, but I once heard a radio talk show host (who is a very enlightened individual and fundamentally happy) rate his overall life at a 7. That would seem pretty logical to me, since if you’re constantly at a 10 you’re probably a drug addict with a lot of money to kill (who is about to crash down to a 2 or 3).
The reason I like the Happiness Meter so much is that it takes away the abstraction and complexity of life. It makes judging this human experience somewhat simple, no deeply existential questions or antagonistic self judgements; just a number representing the happiness you experience in the present moment.
Likewise, I would encourage you to place your “score” on the Happiness Meter throughout the day. Not only is it an interesting experiment, but doing so might actually lead to some profound conclusions you were unaware of.
For instance, let’s say you hypothetically believe that you’re only happy when being around your pet animals. So, you try to plan your life to be around them as much as possible. Then, one day as an experiment you decide to spend the entire day away from your pets and to monitor where you are scoring on the Happiness Meter. And ultimately throughout the course of that day you ended up averaging yourself at a 6.5, the same number you scored yourself while with your pets.
Well, that changes your assumptions about yourself then doesn’t it?
You might find that what in fact truly makes you happy is quite surprising. Or, it merely will prove your assumptions about yourself correct. But most likely of all, it will be a humbling and pleasant experience because you may find that the things we all try SO HARD TO ACHIEVE in order to move our score up higher, doesn’t in fact. Or, at least not as much as we think it will. Draw your own conclusions, but it’s my personal belief that a score like a “7″ is more about fine tuning your mind onto the right mental path, not the amount in your pocketbook or your job title.
That is the true value of the Happiness Meter.