Happiness Formula

Last week I was a participant at an event where one of the topics was happiness.  While I did not attend that particular session, I was part of some discussions on whether we can actively manage our happiness.  So I have been thinking about the issue.
Three years ago my family and I made a sudden decision to move back to Istanbul, our hometown, after over a decade in New York, and close to half our lives in the US. We felt the move would contribute to our happiness.  While it is difficult to gauge whether we are proven right, just the feeling of taking this sort of control of the flow of our life contributed to a certain level of contentment felt.
My friend Fabrice has thought and written about the issue as well.  His take away:

1. Don’t equate happiness with money.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Have sex.
4. Devote time and effort to close relationships.
5. Pause for reflection, meditate on the good things in life.
6. Seek work that engages your skills, look to enjoy your job.
7. Give your body the sleep it needs.
8. Don’t pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment.
9. Take control of your life, set yourself achievable goals.

And finally, today Emre Erşahin pointed me to a Dilbert blog post on the topic, analytical approach of which I found amusing:

I fantasize about writing a book called The Happiness Formula. The
idea would be to create a simple formula for troubleshooting your life
and improving your happiness. On page one would be this top formula.

Happiness = health + money + social life + meaning

The rest of the book would be nested formulas that further explain each component of happiness. For example…

Health = sleep + diet + exercise

And then down another level…

Sleep = schedule + technique

And down another level until it starts getting practical…

Sleep Technique  = consistent bedtime and waking time + no reading or TV in bed + no booze or caffeine…

And so on.

Read the comments; they are fun, too.

3 thoughts on “Happiness Formula

  1. It is appealing to think there is a formula for happiness. I for one am glad that economists and social scientists are working on giving us a better understanding of the topic. Hopefully, some of the research will address how to change habits in order to affect happiness.


  2. I had some interesting friends back in college, the 3 princesses of Bhutan and having received an invitation to visit Bhutan, I had checked out what the country was about. It was the poorest country in the world, and the king (these 3 princesses’ father) had declared that he didn’t evaluate his country in terms of GDP but in terms of GDH, standing for Gross Domestic Happiness. He’s now giving up the throne to democracy.. So I think it’s freedom that brings happiness…
    So wherever you can find freedom, and express yourself and enjoy what you do, should be the place you should live. For bi-cultural people, it’s often tough to make a choice, but maybe not making the choice is the solution. Maybe the freedom to not have to make a choice…


  3. At a friend’s wedding, someone made this comment as part of his toast: the formula for happiness includes the quotient “what you have” divided by “what you want”. If you look at this formula, you will see that yes, you can increase your happiness by increasing what you have, what you own; however, much more dramatically, as you reduce your desires down to zero, your happiness increases towards infinity. That stuck with me, as it’s a lovely modern way of stating an ancient sort of buddhist concept.


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