The Mathematical Equation For Happiness!

Scientists say they have solved one of the greatest mysteries plaguing mankind – just what is the secret of happiness?

The answer, apparently, is nothing as simple as true love, lots of money, or an exciting job. Instead, it can be neatly summarised in the following equation:

Happiness = P + (5xE) + (3xH)

Questions on which the equation is based
1. Are you outgoing, energetic, flexible and open to change?
2. Do you have a positive outlook, bounce back quickly from setbacks and feel that you are in control of your life?
3. Are your basic life needs met, in relation to personal health, finance, safety, freedom of choice and sense of community?
4. Can you call on the support of people close to you, immerse yourself in what you are doing, meet your expectations and engage in activities that give you a sense of purpose?
See below to work out your score

Just to explain, P stands for Personal Characteristics, including outlook on life, adaptability and resilience.

And H represents Higher Order needs, and covers self-esteem, expectations, ambitions and sense of humour.  E stands for Existence and relates to health, financial stability and friendships.

Sound complicated? Actually, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

Apparently the formula was worked out by psychologists after interviews with more than 1,000 people.

Life coach Pete Cohen, who co-wrote the study, admitted that the equation was not easy for most people to understand.

But he said it was based on a series of simple questions (see box).


Each person who completes the questions ends up with a rating out of 100. The higher the score, the more happy they are.

“Most people probably don’t know what happiness is, they think happiness is perhaps having lots of money or a big car, or a big house.

“But people who have all these things are not necessarily happier than people who just enjoy their life.”

Working out the answer
The questions should be answered on a scale of one to ten, where one is “not at all” and ten is “to a large extent”
Add the scores for question one and two together to find your P value.

The score for question 3 is the value for E, and question 4 for H

Mr Cohen said the British were expert at making themselves unhappy by focusing on negative things.

“We tend to be very obsessed with what is wrong, what is missing and what we have not got, rather than focusing on what we want and getting it.

“It would be nice to just enjoy your life, because life is a bit short.”

The researchers found that different factors were important for the different sexes.

Four in ten men said sex made them happy, and three in ten said a victory by a favourite sports team.

For seven in ten women happiness was related to being with family, and one in four said losing weight.

Romance featured higher for men than women. So did a pay rise and a hobby they enjoyed.

Women were more likely to cite sunny weather.

Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist at the London Medical Centre, told BBC News Online: “I would be very surprised if people sat down and had to work out whether they were happy or not.

“We can all be happy in a heartbeat if we make the decision to be so.”


One comment

  • The problems with this questionaire are multiple. First of all, it’s not a “mathematical” equation. It is an equation that relates the assessment of certain human traits present to an overal number which “measures” the resulting happiness.

    Then, the definition of happiness can be determined from the questions. Isn’t happiness different things to different people? To gain confidence in this kind of measurement, the questions need to be specific enough, so that the assessments are accurate enough.

    However, the questions are composite and–for example–it requires some kind of average to give the correct answer to the first question, which measures four dimensions: outgoingness, energeticness, flexibility and open to change. Do we need to assume that these dimensions are independent (so that we can assess them independently and take the average)? Or do we need to assume that they are dependent (and so, the value of one determines to an extent the value of the other)? These concerns are important to understand how accurate the assessment of the first question can be. Then, since there is only one number representing the four dimensions, we are looking at a simplification, which may or may not be justified.

    We also need to take into account the bias that most people have towards what they hope is true vs. what is actually true. Most people would like to think they are flexible or open to change, but if flexibility is required, they are stubborn, if change comes, they are conservative, if outgoinness is required, they keep silent, if an energetic attitude is required, they remain passive. How to be honest about these questions? Maybe you can ask somebody else to assess you? These “traits” are in fact hard to measure. If somebody else is assessing you, they may need to know what changes you went through and how you responded to them. Or they need to present (fictitious) examples of situations which could happen but may never happen in your life. These situations must then require the traits of the person being measured. Depending on the response to the situation, the measurement needs to be determinable (preferably, there are different possible responses, for each level one corresponding to the score of the trait being measured). However, how is a flexibility component of 1 related to 2, or 6 to 7, etc.? What are the characteristics of these values? Can we generalize or predict what somebody will do in different situations once we know these values?

    It follows that “change” is not really well-defined here from the get-go. What is a major change for somebody could be a minor change for somebody else. What about last minute changes, vs. the plans for predictable changes (such as a tsunami, earth quake or volcano eruption)?

    These are some of my concerns for people who try to answer these questions in order to assess their happiness. One component not measured is the measure in which you can use your free will when it comes to change. How do you measure free will? It’s an old question, but the questionaire does not give me confidence that this has been answered.

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