Thursday, April 3, 2014

Formulas for Happiness

Where there is a  void there are always those who will try to fill it. Catholic papers and magazines, as well as the secular press, spend a lot of time discussing not only how to achieve happiness, how it is ardently desired, often missing in our lives, and providing formulas for its successful achievement.  The Peace Weekly gives us several formulas that some experts in the field, from England, the United States and Korea, have devised for finding happiness.

The English formula was done by a psychologist and a counselor who came up with the formula: H= P+(5xE) + (3xH).  Happiness equals: Personal characteristics, outlook on life, adaptability and resilience. E stands for Existence and relates to health, financial stability and friendships. H  stands for the higher order of needs: self esteem, expectations, ambition, and the like. According to this formula the person's  personal qualities and E, his situation in life,  will determine his or her degree of happiness. The qualities that follow a person's Existence will be 5 times more influential than the others.  This formula was worked out after interviews with over 1000 persons.

The US formula was conceived by a psychologist in the 1990s. His formula was H=S+C+V.  H  stands for on-going- happiness. S (biological set point)  is the sum of the genetic capacity for happiness: race, sex, disposition, and so forth.  C stands for life conditions: the external conditions of one's life-- money, marriage, health and religion. V stands for  voluntary activities: what a person is able to control with his or her will.

According to this study, when the ultimate goal is rated as 100 percent, the place of  money was 3 percent, provided the person has enough money to take care of their needs for food, clothes and housing. V depends on the will power of the person. When one does not have a goal toward which to concentrate their energy, this energy dries up and there is languor, which easily becomes despondency. Giving a percentage to the different categories: the voluntary gets 40 percent; circumstances get 10 percent and the set point gets 50 percent. Efforts to change our environmental situation  will only help 10 percent of the time. The author of this study says that what is meant by genetic capacity refers to the period before the age of 6. The happiness of this period increases the influence of the genetic capacity.

The Korean formula, devised by a Korean professor, is: H=2.5 E+2.5 R+5 G. The E  stands for the factors concerned with our existence: financial status, society, politics, the cultural  environment, in short, our living  condition. R stand for relationships, the correct raising of children, the harmonious  relationship among family members and with others, and our place in society.  G relates to personal growth, self-esteem, identity, a positive view of life, service to others and religion, among other things. For a Korean, relationships are very important. When happiness is given as 100 percent in this formula, relationships will amount to 25 percent; personal environment, financial condition and external factors will be 25 percent; a person's personal qualities: self -esteem and a positive outlook on life will be 50 percent.

The article concludes by attempting to see the common elements in the three formulas that will nurture this happiness, which turn out to be:  giving ourselves completely to what we are doing, and putting our internal life in order (goals, identity, relationships, and having a positive disposition). Where we live (family, friends, work, leisure) were also determined to be important.  Since these formulas were said to be scientifically determined by the use of well-researched questions and interviews, I wonder what the deductive and traditionally religious understanding of happiness would reveal. Would it confirm or deny some of what these formulas have discovered?


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