min read
October 24, 2022

Mood Tracking with Paper and Google Sheets: Experiment #2

3 years of Mood Tracking: Lessons & Advice (part 2 of 5)
Mood Tracking with Paper and Google Sheets: Experiment #2

Series Summary

I take you through my personal journey of my Mood Tracking over the past 3 years. Starting with paper tracking (version 1–7), then onto digital tracking (version 8–10), and the lessons learned.

📝 You can download any of the templates mentioned here.


  • Part 1: How and why I started Mood Tracking
  • Part 2: Mood Tracking with Paper: Version 2 (📍 YOU ARE HERE)
  • Part 3: Mood Tracking with Paper: Version 3 to 7
  • Part 4: Digital Mood Tracking: Version 8 to 10
  • Part 5: Lessons learned from 3 years of Mood Tracking

Experiment #2

Version 2 expanded on the previous questions by including a few more emotions (Happiness, Sadness, Loneliness). And also gratitude and affirmation.

This  experiment also lasted 4 weeks.

Pleasant vs. Unpleasant Feelings

Here we see an extended period of positive feelings, then a sudden downturn of mix of emotions with a considerable undertone of loneliness.

  • Stability: During the period of stability, my friend and I were organizing a group cabin trip out in the mountains of Quebec. I remember feeling ecstatic. Looking forward to this weekend trip. The anticipation of the trip, and the trip itself, kept my dopamine levels high.
  • Turning point: The turning point struck on labour day Monday, the day the trip ended and I returned to my depressing home with nothing to preoccupy my mind.
  • Instability: Loneliness set in upon my return back to the real world. I was experiencing a steep contrast of realities: One filled of excitement and social connection, and the other being my usual reality of workaholism.

To me this illustrates a lack in social connection and/or novel experiences. And the power of anticipation, which we know is a great source of dopamine (i.e. positive emotions).

Stress vs. Anxiety

With that I know now, stress and anxiety often don’t have a strong relationship. Stress—for me—is usually a symptom of external responsibility (whether positive or negative). And I tend to feel most anxious when I am void of responsibility. In other words: I feel lost.

This graph seems to illustrate this.

Stress vs. Loneliness

The same goes for stress and loneliness. During this time, nearly all of my stress came from my job. And when the stress is high, my mind is largely occupied. So no time to think about what I’m missing in my social/romantic life.

Stress vs. Accomplishment

My assumption going into this was that stress doesn’t coincide with feelings of accomplishment. I learnt that wasn’t the case. Although my work stressed me out a lot, it also provided me with a sense of worthiness.

Years later I discovered I’m relatively high on conscientiousness per the Big Five Personality Traits (Wikipedia). Which means I tend to take obligations to others seriously, and aim for achievement, and derive a lot of value from a job well done.

This explains my intricate relationship between my work, the stress it provides and my sense of self worth.

Lesson: Stress isn't always bad

Stress is not always a bad thing. However like all things in life, too much or too little of anything creates an imbalance. Tilting your ship. Throwing you off board into the open sea of chaos.

On Gratitude

This was my first real foray into daily gratitude. After compiling the data I was shocked to see nearly all of my gratitude entries related to people or communities. Not at all what I expected.

So I counted each occurrence and plotted it out.

I was pleasantly surprised to see it approximated the Pareto Distribution. Which is basically an exponential curve expressed in many areas of our natural world. For example: In the distribution of wealth, the size of meteorites, the size of human settlements and the size of oil reserves in oil fields (Wikipedia)

More importantly, this graph shows whom I valued most at the time. It’s an insightful exercise to examine this list and ponder whether or not its order makes sense, and why.