I have created a formula for human happiness – an “equation”, if you will, which determines how happy we can be in our lives. It’s actually quite simple, too. The formula is:
H = G + (DH + C/3) + 3R
This may sound a bit too “scientific”, but what this means in practical (nonscientific) terms is … your level of “Happiness”(H) is equal to your degree of “Gratitude”(G) plus the fulfillment of your own personal “Definition of Happiness”(DH) plus your level of “Contribution” (C) divided by 3, plus attention to the “3 R’s” of life (3R), which are Relationships, Rules, and Regrets.
Let’s break this equation down and then provide a “quantitative” approach to calculating your level of happiness (sort of a “happiness score”).
What is happiness? Are you as happy as you can be? Most people are not. Happiness is hard to define, and it’s different for everyone. But really, most people know if they feel happy or not. On a scale of 1 to 10, for example, where are you? You probably know the answer overall. Nearly everyone who answers that question, however, is somewhere below a “10” (very few people consider themselves “totally” happy – or as happy as they can be). Importantly, if the answer is less than “8”, something should be done to improve it … and the “Happiness Equation” can do it.
That’s because a “10” for Happiness (H) is only possible by (1) maximizing your level of Gratitude (G) or appreciation for what you have in your life, (2) living completely consistent with your personal Definition of Happiness (DH) – which means first knowing that definition clearly, (3) Contributing (C) regularly to others, depending partly on how much contribution relates to your Definition of Happiness and (4) making sure to optimize your life’s 3R’s (Relationships, Rules, and Regrets).
Part of being as happy as possible in life is to eliminate “unhappiness”. That may sound a bit strange or confusing, but think about it. Your level of happiness is composed partly of both positive and negative experiences or circumstances. You may have many sources of “joy” (positive circumstances) in your life, but you may also have many sources of stress or pain (negative circumstances).
Although never as simple as this, the more you focus on the negative aspects of your life, the greater the degree of “unhappiness” you could feel and the more positive things you focus on, the less unhappy you will feel overall. The ideal situation is to have as many positive emotions on a regular basis as possible and as few negative emotions as possible (although some negative emotions are actually good to have and are really required for true happiness – but that’s a topic for another article).
Gratitude – which is largely due to a strong focus on the positive aspects of life – is inversely proportional to unhappiness. In other words, the more grateful you are, the less unhappiness you will feel. At the extreme, if you are totally grateful for everything in your life, you will have little or no “unhappiness”. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be totally happy. The absence of unhappiness does not mean you will be totally happy. That’s because true happiness – maximum happiness – requires the other two parts of the equation…
Definition of Happiness
While everyone wants to be as happy as possible, everyone’s idea (definition) of what would or could make them happy is different. It gets more complicated than it sounds, but in general, without a clear understanding of your own personal definition of happiness, you will likely never achieve true and total happiness.
Many people think they know what would make them happy in life – like more money, fame, a better relationship, or career success – but many times they are wrong about it (at least partly). Many other people have simply not spent enough time thinking about what would make them truly happy. They just assume they know. Again, this gets complicated. For a “primer” on creating your own personal Definition of Happiness, click here.
Contributing to the lives of others is an essential component of happiness for everyone. Yes, everyone. People simply “feel better” after they have contributed something, whether to one person, a group of people, a cause, or whatever. Contribution creates positive emotions.
What’s different about contribution, though, is that it effects everyone to a different degree. It’s also a bit difficult to quantify. Mostly, it depends on your own personal definition of happiness, as described above. That’s why it has been placed where it has in this equation – along with the DH part of the formula. It’s divided by 3 because it is a “softer”, less quantifiable part of the equation, unlike the other components.
Regardless of your level of gratitude or your personal definition of happiness, if you are not addressing and managing your 3-R’s – your relationships, your rules, and your regrets – you are not likely to be as happy as possible (unless you’re just plain lucky). This gets into some very deep and complex issues, which again are the subject of many other separate articles. For now, though, the objective is just to know what makes up the equation you can use to achieve total happiness, then get further into the specific components of the equation as appropriate for your individual situation.
Putting the equation into practice…
OK, so now, here’s how to use this equation to, first, find out your “happiness score” (in other words, your own relative level of happiness), and second, to create a plan to improve that score:
Each of the 4 components of the equation (G, DH, C, and 3R) have a value level of between “0” and “3”. To get your “Happiness Score” (which is essentially your level of happiness on the commonly used 10-point scale), for each of the 4 components of the equation you would rate your degree of “success”, “clarity”, or “results” in that area with either a “0” for non-existent, “1” for low, “2” for average, or “3” for high.
So, for example, say you are about “average” on the degree to which you are grateful in life, low on knowing or achieving your definition of happiness, average on your level of contribution, and high on maintaining the 3R’s, then your “Happiness Score” would be…
H = 2 + (1 + 2/3) + 3 = 6.67
In other words, your overall happiness is a “6.67” on a scale of “1” to “10”.
If you feel essentially no gratitude for the things you have in your life, are average on knowing or achieving your definition of happiness, low on your level of contribution, and average on maintaining the 3R’s, then your “Happiness Score” would be…
H = 0 + (2 + 1/3) + 2 = 4.33
So in this case, your overall happiness is a “4.33” on a scale of “1” to “10”.
If you feel very grateful for the things you have in your life, are average on knowing or achieving your definition of happiness, high on your level of contribution, and average on maintaining the 3R’s, then your “Happiness Score” would be…
H = 3 + (2 + 3/3) + 2 = 8.00
Here, your overall happiness is a “8.00” on a scale of “1” to “10”.
Once you have your “score”, you can look to see which area(s) need the most work and create a plan to address those areas. If you don’t focus on what’s good in your life, for example, and so you don’t appreciate the things you do have, you may want to explore getting into the “3 Great Things” habit. If, you have lots of “Rules” – and those rules are creating conflict and stress in your life, you may want to find a way to change your rules – or at least make some of those rules guidelines (the book BeHappy! has a whole chapter on how to do this).
So, think about this “equation” for your happiness and your life. Consider which components of the equation might need some improvement for you. Getting each of the four components of the equation to the highest level possible will make you a happier, more fulfilled person. You can live your happiest possible life.
BeHappy! my friends
Related articles and resources:
BeHappy! to Create Better Relationships
Stress Management (A Key to Happiness)
Handling Adversity to BeHappy!
Eliminate Regrets to BeHappy!
Change Your Rules to BeHappy!
Gratitude: A Key to Happiness
BeHappy! – Your Guide to the Happiest Possible Life