Happiness is Reality Divided by Expectations

Happiness = Reality/Expectations

H = R/E

Pardon the hippie shit. I read this in a New York Magazine article years ago, and it stayed with me since then. Well, specifically, I completely forgot about it for years, and then seconds before drifting off to sleep tonight, it hit me like a myclonic twitch. And I figured I’d blog about it and delay sleep for another hour.

It makes sense, no? No need for me to go into it- just think about it for a minute. You can actually create all sorts of cool equations from that equation. If your expectations are close to nil, happiness is always there for you. Raise those expectations, and you better hope that reality keeps up.

Sad that when I googled it, I realized Jodi Picault nabbed it from the same article and used it in a book. I’m pretty sure the idea belongs to Dr. Alden Cass.

Another fruit of Google – fitness guru Vivian Jung had some neat extrapolating going on with the idea:

I read this quote the other day by Dr Alden Cass in the New York Magazine in an article about burn-out. I just thought that it is one of the most relevant things I heard in a while. I don’t know if someone else said it first-if you know, let me know – but it says a lot. I think that it does not really need explanation. But I will elaborate anyway.

Perhaps happiness is overrated. Maybe it is not natural to be happy all of the time or even most of the time. Our brains are built to search for the unhappy spot and dwell on it. That is why we are constantly trying to “improve” our lives. But happiness and joy are proven to be catalysts for better health so a good dose of happiness is important for a healthy life. So how do we solve this.

If we reduce our expectations then we are going to move up on the happiness scale. So if happiness is the goal then the method is simply to think we are fine just as we are. Just lower the expectation quotient and you will create better health.

But if we are creative and deep thinking then we are destined to be, if not unhappy, at least not very happy. Or if we are greedy or have low self esteem, well then we will always feel our reality is not as good as our expectations – a recipe for unhappiness and bad health.

Though it does not solve depression or sadness, it helps to think that we have some control over our own happiness and health. We can self medicate by altering the equation purely with our thinking. When we need a good dose of joy we can think our way into it and if we need a dark moment to push us through to a new creative place we can allow ourselves to go there knowing that we can come back when we need to.

If we do not take ourselves too seriously then this method can be used. It has changed my thinking a little and I feel more able to cope with life’s ups and downs just by repeating it to myself when needed. And I like it because it is not too “warm and fuzzy”. It is like a mathmatical expression, it is what it is. Plug in different numbers and change the result.

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1 Response

  1. July 30, 2011

    […] Happiness is reality divided by Expectations […]

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