Happiness formula?

In happiness, what i'm reading on March 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

A few years ago the BBC ran a series of programmes and web articles about happiness, and the potential ‘formulas’ to which one might subscribe in order to try and achieve it.

I remember at the time that this was a rather interesting prospect and have, since then, began working on a book about happiness. The idea is to unpack how we think about happiness in a modern context, by looking back at what’s been written in the past and by talking to people today about how they relate to the subject.

I use this website almost as a repository for my ideas and research into the subject of happiness and what it means to us today, so while  I am here directing any readers of this blog toward the BBC’s archive of the programmes,  I’m also jotting it down for myself as an aide memoire.

  1. Would applying E=mc squared make one super happy or just *relatively* happy…?

  2. Philosopher AC Grayling spoke with the BBC’s Matt Stadlen about the importance of happiness – among other things – in a five minute interview. (The happiness bits are at the beginning.)

    He says that pursuing happiness itself isn’t going to make us happy. And what makes him happy? Learning, discussing, reading and philosophy. I can see his point.

    Watch the ‘full’ five minute interview here:

  3. Ciao Steve, congratulations for a great happiness project you are developing! I’d like to ask you two questions:

    1)The Institute of Subjective Well-Being ( just released a free eBook titled “Happiness Formulas: How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?”. Would it be acceptable for you if, for future releases of the eBook, part of your summaries of ancient thinking and research about contemporary opinions are mentioned and credited to you?

    2) Would you consider to review on your site the “AmAre Way” (, a formula to measure happiness, and a way of living joyfully. AmAre is an acronym which stands for: Aware (being), Meditating, Active (being), Respectful (being), Eating properly. AmAre is an Italian word which means “to love”, and in English it sounds like interconnectedness: (I) Am (we) Are.

    “Happiness Formulas” eBook summarizes some of the main findings in recent research about subjective well-being, and raises points of its own, including:
    – being happy is a choice we make right here and now, by living joyfully. It is not a place to reach in the future.
    – there are ways to measure subjective well-being and thinking about what such formulas mean for us, is even more important than the numbers we get out of them.
    – we get happier by making other people happier
    – understanding happiness requires a paradigm shift: from a digital (right or wrong, true or false) way of thinking which belonged to analogical times, to an analogical (degrees of appropriateness) way of thinking which belongs to our digital times
    – SWB has strong implications for public policy and diplomacy
    – SWB agents, objects and actions can be classified as hot, mild and cool
    – there are several “fringe” benefits to living joyfully, for example happier people are more sociable and energetic, more caring and cooperative, better liked by others, more likely to get married and stay married, to have wider social networks and receive support from friends, show more flexibility and creativity in their thinking, are more productive and work, are recognized as better leaders and negotiators, and so earn accordingly. They are more tenacious when times are not pleasant, have stronger immune systems, are healthier both physically and mentally, and live longer.

    THANKS and, please, keep going with the happiness project!

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