Moment of truth now. Are you happy with life?
Why are some people happy most of the time and others miserable most of the time?
Aside from the fact that people who are happy most of the time subscribe to a particular mindset and know that they need to actually design happiness, there is one step that most people never really hear about: how to measure your baseline.
We’ve mentioned in several posts that it is very important to get your baseline as the first point for creating domestic bliss.
This post will tell you exactly what a baseline is and give you several options to help you figure out what your levels are.
What is a baseline and why do you need it?
According to the Business Dictionary, in general business terms, a baseline refers to the “clearly defined starting point (point of departure) from where implementation begins, improvement is judged, or comparison is made“.
This is why we say that we can’t actually go through with our life makeover quest without a baseline. How else would you know that the process is working for you? It’s like taking a before and after snapshot when you’re trying to lose weight. If you don’t, you’ll be working on estimates and we can guarantee you that the uncertainty this produces can be quite brutal and demoralising.
So, baselines. Very important. How the heck do we get those?
You could begin by asking yourself two very quick questions.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, how would you rate your level of satisfaction with your life?
Why did you give yourself that number?
Your answers should give you a glimpse of what’s going on beneath the surface. Ready for a more in-depth look? Check out the list below.
The tools you can use
Disclosure: The list below shows those links that we found to be personally useful. In no way do we suggest that these are the only measures available that are fit for purpose.
Furthermore, these are all self-assessments. If you have a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, please schedule an appointment with a qualified professional.
1. Blissful Mind
This measure of overall happiness was developed in 2005 by renowned psychologist Christopher Peterson PhD. Among the 100 most widely cited psychologists in the world, a former member of the Positive Psychology Steering Committee, a consulting editor to the Journal of Positive Psychology, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Positive Psychology Book Series Editor for Oxford University Press, Dr Peterson has created an easy to answer questionnaire that will show you your levels of overall satisfaction with your life (“authentic happiness”).
Thanks to the University of Pennsylvania, you can take this quiz online for free. All you need to do is create an account with them, answer the 24 questions and you’ll get your result immediately. Just take a good note of the site’s disclaimer, “we can only tell you how your scores compared to those of others using the site and thank you for your kind contribution to this research.” The score of the average quiz-taker is 3.24 out of a possible 5.
According to the website, this quiz uses questions that your GP would use if s/he were assessing you for depression / anxiety so this would be a pretty accurate tool. You can take this quiz online and if you’re under the age of 16, it will redirect you to a more appropriate page. There are only 18 questions and for greater accuracy while answering, you need to look back at how you’ve been feeling for the past 14 days.
This page also has links to NHS Choices Moodzone, which “offers practical advice, interactive tools, videos and audio guides to help you feel mentally and emotionally better“.
Another easy to use questionnaire that has been validated for use in primary care to monitor severity of depression and response to treatment. It can also be used to make a tentative diagnosis of depression. Jade answered this questionnaire 18 months after giving birth to our son. She was diagnosed with PND shortly after. That said, let us emphasise the need for a medical professional’s assistance in diagnosing a mental health issue. So if you suspect you have depression, then please see your doctor.
2. Blissful Relationships
The CSI was developed in 2007 because the popular measures of couples satisfaction at the time had poor levels of accuracy. It has 32 questions and has a “higher precision of measurement and correspondingly greater power for detecting differences in levels of satisfaction.“
The major advantage of this test is that anyone in intimate relationships can use it. While most other tests focus on married couples, this one measures the global relationship satisfaction. It’s also very short, with only seven items to answer, so it is frequently used in clinical settings and online administration.
The clue is in the name. This questionnaire measures the relationship between parent and adult child, from the child’s point of view. It only has 26 questions that are divided into two categories: the child’s relationship with the father and with the mother.
According to the social scientists who created this survey instrument, the PCRSS “was specifically created to determine the difference between expectations and experience within the parent-child relationship from the child’s perspective“.
A major advantage of this test is the fact that you can clearly see the difference between the parent’s responses and the child. If you are experiencing a strained relationship with your children or your parents, this could help explain why. Could it be that your expectations of each other are way off?
This 35-item self-report quiz was initially developed to test the theory that autism is an extreme form of the “male brain,” leading people to prioritise competition and social rank over emotional depth and intimacy.
According to the questionnaire, a “high score on the FQ is achieved by the respondent reporting that they enjoy close, empathic, supportive, caring friendships that are important to them; that they like and are interested in people; and that they enjoy interacting with others for its own sake“. People who are neurotypical tend to score around 65 (of 135) while people who have Aspergers average between 45-50.
You’ll need to create an account before you can take the test online but it doesn’t take too long and you get to view the results immediately after.
3. Blissful Finance
In our humble opinion, this is the only budget planner that works. Created by Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, this doesn’t just look into your monthly spend but also includes daily, weekly and one-off spendings.
The free budget planner spreadsheet is quite thorough. It will take a bit of time to complete it but once you do, you’ll know instantly if you’re in the green (yay!) or in the red (uh-oh). It then goes on to give you advice on what you need to do either way.
We highly recommend creating and implementing an effective financial plan, especially if you’re in debt.
4. Blissful Home
We haven’t been able to find a thorough enough questionnaire for when need to measure your baseline.
However, as per a few professional organisers, here are some things to keep in mind to help you figure out whether you have a blissful sanctuary as a home or if you need to declutter – stat.
Chrissy, Organise My House
“Decluttering is needed when the “stuff” around you starts to have a negative impact in your life. You may feel overwhelmed by it, annoyed by it, or just a little irritated – but it won’t do you any good to stay in that state – so decluttering is the answer.”
Caitlin, Born Again Minimalist
“If you’re stressed out when you think about buying something new because you’re not sure where you’ll put it, or you get stressed looking at your possessions or storage areas, this is a big sign you may need to minimise. Even if all of your stuff fits in your home, it can still cause stress or anxiety if you have more than you mentally want to deal with. For me, this manifests in not wanting to do the household cleaning, because I just can’t imagine where to start or how to get everything cleaned in a timely manner (this is related to depression too, and it’s worse in the winter when Seasonal Affective Disorder is rampant).”
“If you’re shoving things into drawers or bins, or if you have a lot of junk drawers or even junk rooms (for me, that’s our home office, which I’m currently in the process of downsizing), you’ve probably outgrown the amount of space that can accommodate your possessions and it’s time to downsize.”
“If your interests and hobbies change, the possessions you keep in your home should change too…For example, I love to run and exercise so I have a drawer full of running gear and workout clothes, as well as a few pairs of athletic shoes. If I gave up running, I’d expect to give up a lot of that gear too.”
The last thing you need to know
Let us reiterate that this is a process so don’t expect to get things done overnight and don’t be surprised if you find yourself resisting the process.
Take things slowly.
And remember that change isn’t always easy, even when it’s wanted.