I recently read about and then signed up for a happiness study conducted by Harvard researchers. I answered some personal questions and then agreed to respond, as soon as possible, to a daily (you can request more frequent check-ins) text and email. The short daily survey asks several questions about what I’m up to and how I feel about it, and then charts my emotional temperature.
But I’ve hit a stumbling block. Recently, the survey dinged me during a lovely, long walk with my dogs. Feeling good! I reported. Then the survey asked if I was alone. Well, no. Then, it asked if I was interacting with someone. Well, yes. Although I admit at that point I started to feel a little nervous about my answer. But then, the next question came: Are you interacting with 1, 2, 3 or more people? People? I longed for an “other” at the very least. But I had no chance to explain. I selected “2 people.”
All those years of study, math camps, tutors, slide rules, pocket protectors and advanced degrees, and these Ivy Leaguers forgot about companion animals in a study to gauge happiness? What were they thinking? When I consider the high points of my day, many times it’s spent directly interacting with my dogs. I love people too, especially my husband, but playing, walking, training, cuddling with my dogs is often pure pleasure. Hopefully the study, which appears to be dynamic, will change and begin to include these important relationships in the metrics of happiness. Otherwise, the results wil be incomplete.