The NY Times recently had an article titled A Formula for Happiness, in which the author, Arthur C Brooks describes the formula for happiness as: half being genetically determined, up to an additional 40 percent comes from the things that have occurred in our recent past, and 12 percent under our control.
One small problem is that is not the formula that prominent positive psychology researchers, like Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, describe.
Their formula is H = S + C + V where
S: Our biological set point
C: Conditions of living
V: Voluntary actions or choices we make daily
Based on their research they arrived at the following breakdown:
S – 50% Our biological set point
C – 10% Conditions of living
V – 40% Voluntary actions or choices we make daily
The conclusion this leads to is that at least 40% of our happiness is based on actions and choices we make daily and are under our control. These actions and choices consist of using our strengths to do meaningful, good and pleasant things in our lives.
As soft sciences make their way towards their hard science cousins, we can certainly cut some slack if there are discrepancies in the exact happiness formula, but we do thank the positive psychologist for quantifying something many people have suspected for a while: that is living a good and meaningful life will lead to happiness and fulfillment.
As you might know, we’ve created a video titled 3 Minutes to Authentic Happiness, based on Dr. Seligman’s work, which describes the concrete things we can do to increase our happiness. Take a look: