“How are you feeling?” We hear the question all the time, but rarely does it elicit much of an answer. “Fine,” “I’m alright,” “Pretty good.”
But can you actually measure how you’re feeling? If you’re happy? That’s what John Havens’s H(app)athon project seeks to answer.
“First of all, the science of happiness, or well-being is growing and flourishing,” he told Ramona. “Then there’s of course psychotherapy and therapy and now these are coming to a head, I think, largely because people are wondering literally, ‘what makes me happy?'”
Because so much of our personal identity is now defined, or at least reflected, by how we behave and interact online, a lot of what makes us happy is already built in to algorithms used by companies like Google and Facebook.
“People are sort of, realizing this picture of themselves already exists,” said Havens. “I think it’s very easy with technology to sort of turn off and let technology do the work of identifying your own happiness.
“Whereas I think that people have to proactively take the charge and say, well this is what I’ve identified I want to use and what technologies I want to use… to make me happy.”
The H(app)athon Project offers a survey that a prospective user takes over the course of two weeks, to help paint a picture of what truly makes them happy. The goal is to identify the most important elements of their happiness, which then allows the user to better manage their life and well-being. (A related app is set to launch next year.)
Ultimately, Havens wants to build a composite of all the data surrounding well-being. “If you know not just data about how you sleep, but what your health is, what your fitness is, your sex life, how often you go to the bathroom, all these different things, what you buy…
What people aren’t seeing right now but what I’m seeing is the convergence of all these data points around your life.”