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The Happiness Formula

Recently, I attended a benefit for Akshaya Patra ( at which Deepak Chopra was the keynote speaker.  As you might expect, Dr. Chopra’s discussion was thought provoking, at times humorous and most of all, enlightening.  His discussion revolved around multiple concepts of well-being, but what peaked my interest the most was when he discussed the Happiness Formula…which is a major component of his book The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment.

According to the School of Positive Psychology, happiness is a result of three things: Happiness = The Brain’s Set-Point (S) + Conditions of Living (C) + Voluntary Actions (V).

  1. S – The Brain’s Set-Point: When someone looks at a situation, they can either see it as positive or negative. Or, in more common terms, they see their glass as half-full or half-empty.  Chopra explains that although we are somewhat conditioned by our environment, our parents, and even our ancestors into responding to situations in certain ways, we have the power to change these responses and reset our “set-point.” Doing so can help a negative person become more positive and to see challenges as opportunities…not as problems. Chopra explains that this can be accomplished through meditation and cognitive therapy which helps us go beyond our beliefs.  The “Set-Point” has been evaluated as making-up 50% of our ability to be happy.
  2. Conditions of Living: The conditions of living include your financial status, your relationship status and even your health status. For instance, are you rich or are you poor? Did you just get married or are you going through a divorce? Have you recently lost a loved one or friend? Did you just suffer an injury? Because conditions of living are constantly changing and are extrenal, they don’t have as large of an impact on our ability to be happy.  As a result, they make up 10% of the happiness equation.
  3. Voluntary Choices: Voluntary choices include intentional activities. There are two types in particular that are influential to our happiness: Personal action and fulfillment. Personal actions are those that include daily activities that bring us happiness, such as sex, eating good food, going to ball games, enjoying a hobby, etc.  Fulfillment, however, gets to our core and what drives us as individuals.  What is our purpose? How do we unleash our innate creativity? What do we do to make others happy? This last one in particular – how do we make others happy – has tremendous impact on our happiness.  Chopra explained that the fastest way to feel happy is to make someone else happy.  Voluntary choices make up 40% of the happiness formula.

When factoring-in these percentages, the formula probably looks more like this: Happiness = (0.5 x S) + (0.1 x C) + (0.4 x V). Regardless, we can see that based on this theory, we have a lot of influence on our own ability to be happy…and happiness, more often than not, comes from within…not from external sources.

After discussing this formula with the audience, Deepak Chopra made the point that the formula doesn’t really factor in fear and pain from our past. And although he didn’t go into great detail in his address, he discusses how we can deal with these variables within his book: The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment.

Do you agree with these three components of happiness? Have you read Deepak Chopra’s book? What makes you happy?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Mind-Body Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,