Q: Do you really think you can define happiness or well-being and quantify it? Are you not attempting to quantify the unquantifiable?
A: Happiness means different things to different people.
Regardless of one’s definition, happiness and depression are not steady states, but can change from one moment to the next. In other words, psychological experience is a quanta and is discontinuous. It occurs in spikes of thoughts, feeling and actions.
For this reason, the three spheres as defined by Self, Intimacy and Achievement (and the 41 parameters on the Lifetrack tracking sheet) is really just a snapshot of moments. Even with a simple 10 point scale tracking three psychological spheres, assessments may differ depending on when the person rates himself or herself. A rating may be different if the same person performs the exercise only a few minutes later (depending on what happened in the meantime) or what the person might have happened to think about when another self-assessment was being made.
Despite this fundamentally subjective and changeable nature of the self assessments (objective subjective), in the experience of Lifetrack therapy, repetitive self assessments according to the same fixed model yield highly valuable information.
To use an analogy, one can imagine that each individual rating is much like a droplet in our psychological experience. These droplets when viewed individually or in isolation may not tell us much.
However, when a patient uses the same model consistently over time, the droplets accumulate creating patterns, which take the shape of a fountain.
In this sense, one can think of one’s overall psychological state as a fountain, which keeps a certain shape, but consists of constantly changing and discontinuous droplets. While we may not objectively compare the level of happiness of one patient to another, we can compare the level of happiness in the same person at different points in time, particularly if such self assessments are performed frequently and regularly (daily for example). Although memory is short, one can reliably observe if one is happier or more depressed than the day before.
For more information on Quantifying the Unquantifiable see section under Approach: Happiness Defined? Quantified?
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Quantify Happiness, Objective Subjective
Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, a Japanese psychiatrist explores subjective happiness and shows us a means to quantify happiness. The method shed’s light on objective subjective states.