Dutch Happiness Monitor

Ruut Veenhoven, Arnold Bakker, Wido Oerlemans from Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

The ‘Happiness Monitor’ is a tool for enhancing one’s happiness. Participants keep track of their happiness on internet. Every month they record how happy they have felt during the last month and fill out a diary on the previous day.

Th is provides them answers to the following questions:

• How happy do I feel most of the time? Did I become any happier? Could I be happier? How happy are most people like me? What makes me feel happy? Which activities do I enjoy most during a typical day? How much of my time do I spend on these? What changes in my way of life could make me happier? How about the time use of people like me who are happier?

In the long run the monitor will also provide information on how major life-choices have worked out on the happiness of similar people. For instance how many of these got happier in the years after having a first child and how many did not. Th is will enable more informed life-choices.

The Happiness Monitor is a joint project of Erasmus University Rotterdam and a combination of Dutch health insurance companies. Th e project started in January 2010 and has now attracted 30.000 participants, about half of which log on every month.

Parallel projects in other countries are welcomed. Th e technique is also useful for assessing the effects of interventions on happiness and time use. Further information is on: http://www.risbo.org/happinessmonitor/

The Happiness Monitor is an easy-to-use internet tool for assessing what people do during the day and how happy they are. The tool was developed at Erasmus University Rotterdam by Veenhoven (2006) and further refined by Oerlemans (2009). The Happiness Monitor is based on the ‘Day Reconstruction Method’ (DRM) proposed by nobel laureate Kahneman and his co-workers (2004)

The method is designed specifically to facilitate accurate assessment of daily activities and daily mood. It combines features of time-budget measurement and experience sampling. As a first step, participants ‘reconstruct’ what they have done yesterday, beginning with rising in the morning and ending with going to bed. They note each activity that lasted 15 minutes or more. Next participants rate how well they remember to have felt during each of these activities.

The Happiness Monitor has a basic version which includes a fixed set of activities people may engage in over the day and their accompanying happiness levels. An online Dutch basic version is currently being used in an ongoing longitudinal research project about daily lifestyle and happiness among elderly in The Netherlands (Succesvol ouder worden).

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