This will be a constantly updated resource for happiness with links to articles, websites, videos and books to aid in your quest to mastering happiness. If you have a resource you think should be added to this page please feel free to add it in the comments below (moderation is turned on so it may take a day or two for your comment to show).

The Happiness Formula

A lot of this was taken directly from “The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt” (follow the links for excerpts of the book and a guide to becoming happier), although not a self help book but I highly recommend reading it to have a better understanding of how happiness works so you know what needs to be worked on to increase your personal levels of happiness.

H = S + C + V

The level of happiness that you actually experience (H) is determined by your biological set point (S) plus the conditions of your life (C) plus the voluntary activities (V) you do.

Conditions (C)

Many external conditions (C) people think will make them happier, like more money, better weather, better looks, etc. often times don’t (same is true for things people think will make them sadder). Why? They fall victim to what is called the adaptation principle. What essentially happens is once the external condition gets changed (ie winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed), you’ll initially feel happier (or sadder) in comparison to the life you had, but in time your new life will won’t be new anymore, it’ll be your regular life and you’ll naturally move back to your usual level of happiness. Here are some external conditions that scientifically don’t adhere to the adaptation principle.

Noise – If new and chronic sources of noise gets added to your environment (or exist already) you will do well to get rid of it (by moving or modification). People generally don’t adapt to noise (especially of the variable, intermittent and concentration reducing variety).

Commuting – If you have a long and what you consider crappy commute to work, you’ll never get used to it. It will be a constant thorn in your side (the side that’s trying to be happy!)

Lack of control – The perception of control will do much to increase a person’s overall happiness.

Relationships – The strength, number and quality of your relationships is the condition that trumps all others. Good relationships make people happy and happy people enjoy more and better relationships than unhappy people. Also conflicts in your relationships (spousal, coworker, roommate, etc.) is one of the surest ways to reduce your happiness. You never adapt to interpersonal conflict.

Pleasure, Gratification and Finding Flow (V)

Pleasures are “delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components,” such as may be derived from food, sex, back rubs and cool breezes.

Gratifications are activities that engage you fully, draw on your strengths and allow you to lose self-consciousness. Gratifications can lead to flow.

Flow is what people sometimes call “being in the zone.” Csikszentmihalyi called it “flow” because it often feels like effortless movement: Flow happens and you go with it. Flow often occurs during physical movement – skiing, driving fast on a curvy country road, or playing team sports. Flow is aided by music or by the action of other people, both of which provide a temporal structure for one’s own behavior (for example, singing in a choir, dancing or just having an intense conversation with a friend). And flow can happen during solitary creative activities, such as painting, writing or photography.

The keys to flow: There’s a clear challenge that fully engages your attention; you have the skills to meet the challenge; and you get immediate feedback about how you are doing at each step (the progress principle ie. you’re happier working towards a goal that completing it).

V (voluntary activities) is largely a matter of arranging your day and your environment to increase both pleasures, gratifications and flow, with pleasures needing to be spaced to maintain their potency (overindulgence can lead to disgust).

1 Response to Happiness

  1. Lawrie Milne says:

    Thanks Casey, A great format to persue. My findings include that acceptance and inner peace may not be happiness, but it’s a great background for happiness to show up on.

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