Optimal practice for daily wellbeing

I want to start a project that can help me to see what sort of practice or mindset (e.g. mindfulness, compassion, acceptance, gratitude, etc.) improves my wellbeing and meditation practice on a day-to-day basis. I worry that this may sound wishy washy but there’s a lot of work that’s been done to standardise the underlying practices for things like psychological therapies and contemplative research that I can draw from.
I’m a little uncertain about what protocol to follow to test this out.
I’m looking to find some similar projects at the moment. Can anybody make any recommendations? Something else I’d be grateful for is an established metric for mood or well-being in non-clinical populations (a depression or anxiety inventory won’t really apply to me, for example).
Thanks! :slight_smile:


Welcome @RationalDharma! I haven’t tried mindfulness stuff, but I have been trying various mood trackers. (Not sure about well being though.)

The main issues around mood tracking are…

  1. when do you measure (once a day? 3x? random scheduled check-ins?)
  2. what do you measure?

Some tools enable customization on #1. And… you can also DIY and create your own self-survey to customize #2 (thanks to @gedankenstuecke for pointing out the Reporter app).

  1. daylio - when I tried it, I abandoned it because timestamps in my data export were the time I scheduled check-in (but the reality is I often respond to my notification much later, so that’s really bad)
  2. imoodjournal - still using this, it’s simple. 1-10 scale, flexible check-in scheduling. not sure it’s capturing enough nuance though.
  3. moodpath - limited scheduling control (just 3x a day). geared to diagnosing mental disorders, 1-5 scale and randomized Qs clearly geared to anxiety/depression diagnosis (“are you not eating”, “having trouble sleeping” etc – I find this irritating). Not sure how useful this is for me. haven’t tried data export yet.
  4. reporter app - very flexible tool: create your own questions, schedule check-ins. I’ve tried making custom questions but I’ve struggled to find satisfying wording. haven’t tried data export yet.

Your question about “validation” got me searching again though, and I found this paper that describes a validated tool.

Maybe it could be implemented with the reporter. It’d capture more nuance than imoodjournal, and I could quit trying to come up with my own questions.

I’m tempted to try setting this up for myself with Reporter! Unfortunately set-up is tedious, and you’d have to do it all yourself (can’t copy my work), but I’m glad your post inspired me to find that paper. :slight_smile: (And I’ll let you know if/when I do it, maybe share what it looks like for me.)

Regarding the mindfulness stuff, my generic advice would be to think of it as intervention maybe – do something for a week, and not for a week, ABAB pattern – testing a theory that it’s going to affect other stuff? (And tracking that stuff.)

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Hey Mad, thanks so much for your detailed reply! I’m just checking out the reporter app now, but you’ve given me some really helpful stuff to think about.
So far I’ve just been keeping track of my mood throughout the day using daylio - I haven’t tried exporting the data yet but that’s annoying if it only gives you the pre-scheduled timestamp! - and making a note of mindfulness practices I’m doing. This has successfully got me to pay closer attention to my mindfulness practice and moods, and given me some inspiration on how to formulate my question. I notice that, because I have several years of mindfulness practice behind me, I’m quite mindful throughout most of the day already - but what throws it off are stressors like having a disagreement with somebody at work, or missing my bus or something like that. I also realised that it’s not actually mood that I want to impact, but my propensity to craving - in other words how much I want my experience to be different than how it actually is.
At the moment I think I’d like to frame my project question something like the following: “what off-cushion practice (in the meditation community, “off-cushion” means a mindfulness or other kind of contemplative practice that you follow in daily life, i.e. when you’re not doing formal meditation practice sitting on a cushion) is most effective in dampening the effects of a craving-inducing event in daily life?
I think this would be difficult to implement in an experiment with more people because it’s probably quite hard to get an idea of exactly what I mean by ‘craving’ in this sense, but it’s something that’s spoken and thought about a lot in mindfulness circles, and I feel like I have a clear sense of what I mean by it. I’ll look and see whether there are any scales already being used; I know Judson Brewer is a neuroscientist who has done a lot of work on craving for cigarettes etc. so there may be something there.
I’m thinking I can set a reminder to go off 5 or so times a day to remind me to bring the practice to mind, make a note of whether I’m practicing it or not, and then keep track using a google form or something of whenever something stimulates craving/dissatisfaction during the day, by how much it does so, and how much the practice (say, one minute of it) helps.

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@RationalDharma one of the things I’m noticing is that my attempts to introspect and report some “qualia” can affect the qualia themselves… especially if they’re more unusual or involved (i.e. I have to think more to answer the question & record it).

That is, when I reflect: “Am I feeling X? actually now that I think about it…”

It’s a bit like the joke, “Don’t think of an elephant!” :elephant:

On the other hand, I wonder if I keep doing it, maybe the self-survey becomes routine and has less impact? I wonder how long that takes – I would guess a couple weeks.

Since you were planning something very similar (tracking a custom self-reported qualia) I was curious if you experience a similar phenomenon! :slight_smile: