What’s Your Happiness Meter Reading?

Each of us has a built-in emotional meter. It's standard equipment at birth. The visual below represents that emotional feedback system we all have inside of us. We call it your Happiness Meter®. Using it to stay in touch with your emotions can improve your decision making and increase the joy in your life.

(Average reading time 180 seconds)

Daniel Goleman in his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence, documents the “crucial role of feeling in navigating the endless stream of life’s personal decisions.” Goleman points out that while strong emotions can cause havoc in reasoning, the lack of awareness of emotions can be equally hazardous. Emotional self-awareness is the “building block” for being able to shake off a bad mood and reason clearly.

The Happiness Meter is an emotional self-awareness tool. It is a fun way of taking a serious look at life.

You should take your Happiness Meter reading and respond to it often. Ask yourself, “What is my overall Happiness Meter reading in my entire life right now?”  Mentally set your meter.

As important as understanding where you would place yourself on the Happiness Meter in your overall life is knowing where that reading is coming from. How you feel about your life at a given moment comes from the sum of its four respective parts.

Work                               Family                         Friends/Community                           Self   

What are your current readings in each of these four relationship areas of your life?

NOTE: If you don’t already have your own Happiness Meter you can get one that includes the meters for these four relationship areas at MyHappinessMeter.com.

You may have discovered when you set your relationship meters that a negative reading in one part of your life can have a disproportional effect on all the others. The opposite is also true. A strong positive reading in one area can have a disproportionately positive impact on the other areas.  For example, a very positive reading in the self-area, because of excellent physical health, can reflect itself in much more confidence and success on the job.

Where do each of your quadrant readings come from?  They originate primarily from individual relationship readings. What is your current Happiness reading for example with your best friend, spouse, your parents? Where is your Happiness Meter reading with each of your children, or your new customer, or your boss, or yourself right now? If you are on the left, frowning side of the Meter in an important relationship do something about it.  Don’t let it linger. Schedule a time right now in your calendar to upgrade that reading.

You could block some think time to determine your talking points for that challenging conversation you’ve been putting off with your spouse or parents or boss. Calendar the action to set an appointment with your doctor to check out that health concern that has you stressed.  Pick up the phone and set up some Play time… a date, not a meeting (Learn More) *, with someone you love or a good friend or for yourself. The point is don’t let negative readings continue to gnaw away.  Pay attention to your emotions by quadrant and person.  Use the Happiness Meter visual to trigger that awareness and motivate a commitment to push your reading more to the right side.

Last week a senior executive who uses our Tula apps pointed out that your Happiness Meter reading in one quadrant can carry more weight in decision making than the others.  The relative value of each quadrant Happiness Meter reading can also vary over time.

She had recently received two attractive job offers to move back to New York City from Los Angeles.  Her work has always been a high priority and source of pride and satisfaction.  The move provided meaningful upside income and equity gains.  Although she was initially okay with returning to New York her supportive husband, who worked remotely, strongly preferred to stay in California, all other things being somewhat equal.

In weighing the pros and cons she realized that all things were not equal.  She told me “Thinking about my overall meter I recognized that my greatest happiness sources now were my family, the one I have and the one I intend to have. I want to make major decisions with that in mind.”

At this point in their lives she and her husband weighted their happiness priorities with family and friends higher than the advantages a move to New York could provide in their work quadrant. She has been and still is motivated to excel in her work but wants to make sure it compliments the area of her life that brings her and her family the greatest joy.

Such emotionally informed decisions not only add to the personal joys of life but help prevent career burn out as well.  Personal emotional well-being contributes to better well-being and performance professionally.

Note emotions should inform your decisions, but not decide them.  Such is the yin and yang to how our emotions should impact our decision making.  On the one hand it is dangerous to make important decisions based primarily on how you “feel” about them.  “Decisions based on emotions were the ruination of a big part of my life” is something I’ve heard often from clients. Don’t let strong, immediate emotions cause havoc in your reasoning. On the other hand your emotions are designed to inform your decisions and be an important gauge of the results of your actions.

Use your Happiness Meter daily to stay in touch with your emotions with your Work, Family, Friends and Yourself and let those emotions instruct but not overwhelm your reasoned decision making.  Remember…

• Emotional self-awareness is the building block for making reasoned choices and enjoying life.

• The Happiness Meter® is a tool that manifests emotions in a more tangible way, so you can recognize them and then respond rationally.

• Ask yourself, “What is my overall Happiness Meter reading in each quadrant and across my entire life right now?” Train your brain to live on the positive side!

Here’s to living on the right side of the Meter.


* You may recall we define a date as Play time with no major decision topics.  None at all – not about work, parent or children challenges, or the leak in the roof.  Such topics turn dates into meetings.  A date is just carefree joyous time together. Dates are helpful for keeping your Meter settings on smile.




“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) A Founding Father of the United States of America and an author, printer, politician, and inventor.


Don’t complain – Instead Think then Act

When you’re frustrated by something at work, rather than complaining list, prioritize and conclude the highest priority potential solutions. Then present them to the correct person for agreement on implementing them yourself or together.