Did you know that psychologists have now come up with a formula for happiness?
They call themselves “positive psychologists” and led by Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, who has been described as the father of positive psychology, they have a formula for happiness.
It is simply: Pleasure + engagement + meaning = happiness.
I do not have a degree in psychology but I am a student of human kind and it seems to me that while it seems simplistic (and these “positive psychologists” will be the first to admit it is overly simplistic) it actually touches on the central issues that I have expressed to my readers over the years.
In order to be happy we need pleasure in our lives. We need the small pleasures of a tasty treat, a beautiful sunrise, or laughter. We also need larger pleasures found in success and love.
We also need engagement to be happy. This means that our lives must include activities or enterprises that capture our wholehearted interest. You know, the level of engagement when we forget about the clock, the outside world, and just about everything but the object of our focus.
Finally, we must have meaning in our life. We must feel that we matter and that what we do matters. We must know that we are valuable, valued and that our lives make a difference.
One of the faults with this simple formula is that it does not include an urge to balance. It would be too easy to focus on one area to the detriment of others. While engagement and meaning are essential to the formula, for example, overlooking the need for pleasure could make happiness impossible to attain.
While some may mock this “happiness formula”, I would argue that it can be useful in the pursuit of becoming a happier person. We all need reminders that being happy is not serendipity but rather an active choice. In fact, more than a choice, being happy really is an action that must be taken every day.
Are you happy most of the time? Then share your own secret formula! But if you are not happy then it can be well worth your time to consider the “happiness formula” and how you can apply it to your life. Remember, it is not enough to wish for or think about happiness — but rather you must live it.
You can live a happier life with the help of the happiness formula as well as your own active pursuit of happiness.