The Happiness Equation

October 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

I’ll be happy when:
   I’m at my ideal weight.
   The economy turns around.
   My candidate gets elected.
   I get an awesome new job/car/relationship.

It’s easy to buy into the “I’ll be happy when” formula. The problem is if you wait for everything (or even one thing) to align perfectly to be happy, you’re in for a very long and painful wait.

We think the Happiness Equation works like this:
   Thin = Happy
   Money = Happy
   Get what I want = Happy

This equation states that when the condition has been met, happiness will follow. That sucks. Here’s why:

If the condition is something you can’t affect, say the economy or the election, you are automatically giving up your own power to determine your own happiness to something that’s completely beyond your control. Your happiness is now conditional on the Nasdaq or how people in Florida count ballots. No offense to the fine people of Florida, but I don’t really want them in charge of my happiness.

If the condition is something you can affect, for example money or your weight, then you’ve set yourself up for an arduous schlep to your goal. It’s a heck of a lot harder—if not impossible—to reach your goals when you withhold happiness until the goal is met. I call this the Infinite Loop of Unhappiness and it looks like this:

If: Money = Happy

Then: Don’t have money = unhappy

Then: Demoralized that I don’t have money, not creative about making money = unhappy


Here’s the winning formula:

   Happy = Money
   Happy = Thin
   Happy = Have all I need (easy to get what I want)

The secret is to be happy first. Here’s some tips to help you get your happy on.

Find the Feeling: When we want something, we’re really looking for the feeling that thing will give us. Find the feeling now. How will you feel when you have money, a new job, a tight bod, George Clooney or Angie? Once you know the feeling you’re looking for, you can start to create that feeling in your life today.

Accept where you are right now: We think if we change something about our current reality, we’ll feel better. But with that thinking, there is always some mystical “there” that is not here. It’s like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Accepting your imperfect life as it is right now allows you to see what’s good around you right now.

Bring the focus back to you: Trying to change others to make us happy is a losing formula. That’s like leaving your happiness to chance: If someone “behaves” then we can be happy, if they don’t then we can’t. The only person you absolutely can affect is you—focus on “behaving” in a way that makes you happy regardless of what others are doing.

Staying happy and resilient even during the toughest times just requires doing the math. How does your happiness add up?


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Nice. Tuning In

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Judith K. MacMillan  |  October 8, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Hey, B

    I needed this. I had a total meltdown down about our options for President today. You know I’m not one to get all wrapped around the axle about this sort of thing. Just seems like in this great country of ours there has to be some better choices.
    But then I was reminded that this great country of ours has corrected itself from much worse. So in the meantime I guess I’ll just focus on all that we have which is a lot!!!


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