A Modern Day Muckraker

What is a Muckraker?

 My AP U.S. History class in high school was not very memorable. Mostly, I remember reading way too many George Washington posts in the pretense of ‘studying’ (ten out of ten recommend looking into them) and listening to the Alexander Hamilton rap long before it was Hamilton the musical (which I’m DYING to see by the way). However, I do remember one thing in particular from ‘actual history’ (which I define loosely because then I’d have to philosophically determine what is ‘actual’ and what is not, which I am extremely unqualified to do). I call it the “Era of the Muckrakers.”


For those of you who don’t know, muckrakers were journalists who went into the frontline and got the real scoop. They posed as factory workers (among other less glamorous jobs) and did not shy away from getting their hands both figuratively and literally dirty. It’s people like these who revealed the truths in past societies. A particularly famous muckraker is Upton Sinclair, who revealed the true horrors of the meat packing industry in his famous novel The Jungle.

However, for some tragic reason, fewer and fewer people nowadays go to these depths to discover the truth. Maybe I can’t go to the same depths that these people have went, but ever since I learned about muckrakers, my goal has been to become one.

Discovering the Truth about Success

My muckraking, however, is somewhat different in style. Rather than digging up the truth about an industry or system, my goal is to dig up the truth in life, and, in particular, happiness.

Personally, I believe the end goal of success should be happiness. If you aren’t happy, what is the point of being successful? It’s like having all the money in the world, but living on a deserted island where money has no value. I mean, maybe you could burn it for a fire supply, but that wouldn’t last very long at all. Success only lasts so long, until someone bigger and better comes along. The likelihood that you’ll become one of the less than .01% people written about in textbooks is so ridiculously slim to none that I’ve decided I’d rather strive to be happy than to be successful.

In order to determine my personal happiness, I decided to quantify it. First, I measured my overall happiness on a scale of 1-10 every morning to find a baseline level of happiness. I also quantified my success in each area of my life: health, relationships, personal growth, work (in this case, my education) and lifestyle. Though they are hard things to quantify, I did my best. After observing my baseline success and happiness, I received these results:

Lifestyle: 6.75

Personal Growth: 6.4

Health: 6

Relationships: 6.75

Work: 6.9

Overall Happiness: 7

I believe 7 is pretty decent. I’ve always found that I’m a pretty happy person. I like sunshine and bubbles and way too many sickeningly sweet things. Here’s where you may wonder “If you’re already a happy person, why are you doing this? Shouldn’t this be for people who are depressed or something?” In this hypothetical interaction that we are having, I would respond to you indignantly, stating that there is no such thing as too much happiness. Maybe I’m just a peace-loving hippie, but I truly believe if people were just a little bit happier we’d have less problems.

Experimental Success

I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved doing experiments (especially social experiments). I love changing my behavior, and then seeing how it affects others. You’d think that, because of this, I would love science and proceed to become an engineer who makes a lot of money. Alas, for some odd reason unbeknownst to me I absolutely abhor science and am sadly relegated to the life of a humanities major (sorry mom and dad). Maybe it’s because I’m very right brained and creative, but it’s probably because I use stupid words like alas and no one in the science world would take me seriously, so here I am.

So, although I am not a science major, running an experiment like this is not really out of character for me. My idea in this ‘social experiment’ is simple: by changing one aspect of myself at a time for an extended period of time, and noting the changes in my success and happiness, I would find out what was helpful and what was hurtful to both my success and happiness.

In addition to articles, listicles, and my general ramblings, this blog will also chronicle my ‘success’ experiments in relation to my happiness scale. Hopefully, I will discover what it is that will make me the happiest and most successful me I can be. My hope is that, in me doing the messy muckraking part, I can allow you, the reader, to avoid my failures and follow my successes.

Always strive for success!

-Dana

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