Friday, July 31, 2009

Happiness Equations (2)

A simple equation has been suggested for happiness (H), by Gottlieb and Rosenau, in a conference paper.

H = k (A – E)

Where, k = Proportionality constant (essentially how much a person cares about something); A = Perceived actual state of reality; E = Expected state/place in life.

According to this equation H depends only on the difference between A and E and how much one cares about that difference. It does not depend on the absolute level of A and E.

An equation has been devised by Dr. Cliff Arnall to calculate the happiest day of the year.

H = O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He

Where, O = Outdoor activities (and being outdoors); N = Nature; S = Socialization; Cpm = Childhood positive memories (including those of childhood summers); T = Temperature; He = Holiday expected fun (excitement)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happiness Equations (1)

Formulas have been defined for happiness (H).

According to Positive Psychology,

H = S + C + V

Where, S = Genetic set point; C = Circumstances; V = Voluntary activities

The genetic set point for happiness is said to have about a 50% influence on happiness. This is said to be immutable. Happy parents would have happy children. Circumstances are said to cause a 10% influence on happiness. Intentional activities can affect happiness levels to about 40%. Thus by choosing the right activities a person can significantly increase his happiness levels.

According to a report by Carol Rothwell and Pete Cohen,

H = P + (5 x E) + (3 x H)

Where, P = Personal characteristics (inherited and learnt) and outlook on life. Outgoing, energetic, optimistic, resilient and flexible people tend to be happier.

E = Existence needs. Some basic existence needs which need to be met are health, financial security, personal safety, a sense of belonging and engaging in meaningful activities.

H = Higher Order needs. These relate to a deeper outlook on life and personal relationships and include self-esteem, expectations, depth of relationships and sense of humour.

The report is downloadable and includes the self-assessment questionnaire.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Virtues and Strengths

It has been mentioned in a previous post that the Good life and Meaningful life require the utilization of signature (character) strengths. Virtues and strengths that enable human thriving are described in Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (CSV).

The CSV identifies six overarching virtues that almost every culture across the world endorses.

Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge

Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal

Humanity: Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others

Justice: Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life

Temperance: Strengths that protect against excess

Transcendence: Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning

The 6 virtues are made up of 24 measurable strengths. Signature strengths are those one most frequently expresses. It is suggested that practice/utilization of these traits lead to increased happiness.

One can find out about his/her signatures strengths from this survey.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Postive Psychology: The Pleasant, Good and Meaningful

Positive psychology is a branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions. Positive psychology seeks to find and nurture genius and talent and to make normal life more fulfilling. In contrast to psychology’s usual emphasis on mental illness, the focus here is on mental wellness.

Dr. Martin Seligman is considered the founder of Positive Psychology. According to him ‘the overriding goal of Positive Psychology is to increase the tonnage of happiness on the planet.’

In this insightful talk he mentions that Positive Psychology is not ‘Happiology’. He also talks about the three ‘Happy’ lives.

Pleasant life: consists in having as many pleasures as possible and having the skills to amplify the pleasures.

Good life: consists in knowing what your signature strengths are, and then recrafting activities to use those strengths to have more flow in life.

Meaningful life: consists of using signature strengths in the service of something you believe is larger than yourself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

These are words which have the power to transform perspective and attitude.

The first part of the quote is attributed to the Scottish author and dramatist Sir James M. Barrie. The source for the continuation is difficult to trace.