Saturday, February 25, 2006


This formula is, apparently, the secret of happiness, according to the theory discussed in this article in The New Yorker by John Lanchester, which makes for very interesting reading.

Lanchester follows the arguments of two scholars who “explore the fragility of contentment” and his explanation of the formula for happiness above (as designed by positive psychology), is:

H = your level of happiness
S = your set point
C = the conditions of your life
V = the voluntary activities you do

Seems very straightforward as an explanation, but doesn’t seem to help one increase one's level of happiness!

I’ve always thought of myself as a naturally happy person. Although I can get as sad, annoyed, irritated and disillusioned as the next person, I’m seldom down for long and never ‘moody’. What was particularly intriguing about the article was what happened to people when the part of the brain that is most sensitive to pleasure was damaged in some way. The damage means that the emotions are effectively shut down and all choices are made with cold logic but, rather than producing a cool Spock type, this produces a lacklustre zombie type. See, now, I always knew that Spock character was flawed.

I like the comment from the closing paragraph that: “A person in good health in a Western liberal democracy is, in terms of his objective circumstances, one of the most fortunate human beings ever to have walked the surface of the earth”. Couldn't agree more and will remind myself of that the next time I'm feeling unhappy about having to do something dreary.


Anonymous said...

Three things:

I didn't read the article and am still wondering what "your set point" is. I can't help thinking of tennis all the time.

And, are you doing NaPoWriMo?

And, Spock has been up there entirely too long. Gorgeous as he is, I suggest Elle MacPherson (just to pick a random name that springs to mind) would be a nice change.


Messalina said...

Well, I reckon that the "set point" refers to one's individual preference - what you were born with and how that has been modified by experience up to the set point in time that you do the calculation.

NaPoWriMo is a no-no for me this year - I am nowhere near insane enough to attempt it! How about you - will you weaken and put yourself through it again this year? Are you insane enough? ;o) Hope you are - it is one of the few ways I get to read your poetry!

Hope you like the latest pic - specially for you :o))