Happiness – an all-encompassing word that defines fulfillment, contentment, bliss, prosperity, pleasure, and physical and mental well-being. Most of us experience fleeting instances of happiness, but sustaining that feeling of pure bliss often seems like an elusive dream. After all, at any given time, our happiness appears to be a function of circumstances surrounding us – our relationships, our work, our financial condition, and our larger human community. But what if there was a formula for happiness? Something tangible we all could work towards? A means to capture the ever-elusive happiness?
In October 2013, Salesforce organized it’s annual conference called Dreamforce – the biggest cloud computing event of year. The keynote speakers for the event were Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Agus. The speakers talked about how we can make our lives more meaningful and happy. In particular, each of these thinkers talked about how we can catch the fleeting butterfly called “happiness”.
Perhaps the most important finding discussed during the event was not a new product or service, but a formula for happiness. As our esteemed readers may already know, scientists have been able to identify the precise formula that governs our happiness. There are different versions of the formula, though all of them have at least 3 basic components:
Happiness formula: H = S + C + V
1. H = Happiness
2. S = Set point
Set point is a marker in the brain, which interprets an event in life as a problem or opportunity. In other words, the same event can be viewed as a problem or an opportunity depending on the conditioning of each person’s brain. Our set point is established fairly early during our infancy, and largely dependent on the type of parenting we are exposed to. In particular, set point may be determined by the bond mothers and babies share during infancy, because babies’ neural networks mirror the neural networks of their parents. Set point plays an important role in determining our daily happiness, nearly 50% of it. The good news is that humans are capable of changing their set points. Even if we’ve experienced an unfulfilling childhood, we can still find sustained happiness by changing our set point through mindfulness, meditation, transcendences and other mental exercises.
3. C = Conditions of living
Conditions of living impact our level of happiness. Money and physical resources are primary components determining our living conditions. Our living conditions impact nearly 10-20% of our happiness on a daily basis. However, happiness does not exponentially rise with more money. Having lots of money is a constant source of worry, as is having too little money. Therefore a lifestyle afforded by the middle-class might be a great place to be happiness wise!
4. V = Voluntary actions
Voluntary actions we conduct, determine the remaining 30-40% of our happiness. Voluntary actions are made up of the following:
- Choices we make for our personal pleasure – As humans, our personal pleasure is important to us. In fact, we go to obscene lengths to fulfill our personal pleasure. In case you were wondering what the top source of personal pleasure for US residents is – no it’s not food – it’s shopping. Yes, shopping gives us more pleasure than eating and even sex.
- Choices we make to fulfill ourselves – This includes creative expression of our inner being (hobbies, work, pursuit of talents etc), and establishing meaningful relationships (with our loved ones and our larger community). In fact, the fastest way to be happy is to make someone else happy by showing care, attention and listening – thereby helping our own wellbeing.
The formula for happiness gives us a lot of hope. If our basic needs for food, clothes and shelter are met, through mindfulness we can improve our overall sense of wellbeing. By investing in meaningful relationships and creative expression of our inner self, we can further improve our sense of happiness.
If meditation is not an option for some readers, there are still simple ways to improve our happiness quotient. Based on recent research on neuroplasticity (featuring research conducted with Dr. Rudolph Tanzi – Super Brain), Dr. Chopra discussed how we can experience happiness, lead more happy and fulfilling lives by making simple and mindful changes. In particular, Dr. Chopra and his research assistant analyzed the gallops results for career and emotional well being. What he found was not shocking, but intriguing nonetheless.
1. Humans love attention
According to findings from gallop polls, Dr. Chopra found that employees ignored by their supervisors are emotionally worse off compared to employees criticized by their supervisors. As humans we would rather be criticized than ignored. But how can we use the finding to share happiness? By simply listening and giving attention to our loved ones, we can increase their state of happiness and subsequently ours. So don’t ever forget to lend an ear to your friend who is feeling down and low.
2. Happy friends make you happy
According to findings, if you have a happy friend, then you are likely to be 15% happier. If your friend has a happy friend, then the chances of you being happier increase by 10%. The world would indeed be a happier place if a lot of us were happy. With the world becoming a smaller, why not increase your loved one’s happiness quotient instantly – send a loving text message this very moment to someone you care for. Chance are your happy message will go a long way in making the world a happier place.
3. Our bodies are constantly changing
Our body is being reborn all the time – we are not the same people we used to be even minutes ago. Our physical composition is always changing – the cells in all parts of our body die and are re-born. Our mental mood impacts the health of each of these old and new cells. Our body is therefore not a NOUN, but a VERB. Our body is an activity, a flow of energy that’s constantly transforming based on our experiences. Further, our mind and body is an ecosystem encompassing our surroundings, our mental health, our relationships, and our community. Our wellbeing is influenced by our physical and mental health, our wealth, our careers, our families and everything else in between. Therefore, we are not stuck with the same body throughout our lives. We have the capability to change our body at any given time. Thinking about a healthy habit such as walking? Do it, because it will indeed change your body inside out.
4. Love is the inseparability of life with life
Human beings function best when they are loved and when they share love. Love is the essential emotional bonding humans share with each other. Experiences – such as the one a mother shares with her child – is the undercurrent for the immune system the child develops. Once we experience love and compassion we are able to connect to the larger ecosystem that binds us all – a system that keeps us all healthy and happy. Emotions have a lot to do with how we are all connected with each other. Notice how your friend’s terrible mood messes up your zen? It’s because your friend and you are connected via the inseparable human consciousness. If one of us is unhappy, the other cannot be truly happy.
Scientists, thinkers and philosophers all seem to agree compassion, love, humility, equanimity, and caring are critical for a happy life. These prescriptions are beyond space and matter – qualities that transcend what we can see and feel. When we start experiencing and exhibiting all these intangible feelings, we transcend fear, anxiety and misery. That’s when we truly start connecting with conciseness of our entire ecosystem – the entire creation.
Our collective conciseness conceives, governs and manifests the world as it appears today. And in this collective experience, there is no me without you. The only way we can be truly blissful is if we are connected to the collective experiences and practice the ultimate truths in our daily lives – compassion, love, humility, equanimity, and caring!
Lastly, we share a wonderful video making rounds around the world. Who knew Pharrell Williams would one day become the voice of a generation. Enjoy a collection of videos featuring regular people just being happy – clap along if you know happiness is the truth!
Videos to make you happy:
Pharrell Williams – HAPPY (Album – GIRL)
Deepak Chopra – Keynote speaker at SalesForce
Articles to read:
- A Formula for Happiness, NY Times
- The Happiness Formula – A Simple Equation to Make you Happier, Examiner
- What is happiness, PBS
- 24 hours of happy by Pharell Williams