A Formula for Happiness

What does the formula for happiness look like? Here’s my attempt at it:

happiness =

+ meaning
+ hope
+ pleasure
+ efficacy
+ resilience
+ optimism




social-acceptance = human interaction with the sort of people you want to interact with in the form of warm and trusting relationships, and the gut level feeling that this group accepts you and likes you and respects you

Interventions: exposure therapy if you have social anxiety, avoiding mean people, social skills training, getting direct feedback on how to be a better friend, meeting a wide range of people in a wide variety of social circles, leaving a social circle that treats you badly.

self-acceptance = believing you are not fundamentally bad or worthless, that you are worthy of love and respect, not feeling excessively guilty about your past actions, etc.

Interventions: self-compassion training

meaning = feeling on a gut level that your life has meaning or significance, that actions you take have the ability to influence what happens, and that the world in general is not meaningless

Interventions: start working on a project that you find deeply important for a cause much bigger than yourself, cognitive behavioral therapy or SSRI antidepressants if you think you may be depressed and haven’t tried them yet

hope = feeling on a gut level that there will be good things in the future and that your future is not doomed

Interventions: mapping out plans for your future, applying problem solving techniques to problems that you feel are hopeless, life coaching

pleasure = for instance eating delicious food, listening to beautiful music, play, doing work you find fun, etc.

Interventions: spend money on pleasurable experiences rather than things, engage in pleasurable experiences at the maximal rate you can afford without them getting dull or routine, try a wide variety of activities to see which you enjoy most

efficacy = the belief that you have the capability to achieve the things that you want to achieve, and also, the feeling that you are actively achieving worthwhile things (whether in work or in hobbies or in your social life)

Interventions: if possible choose work where you get a consistent feeling of accomplishment, take on side projects or hobbies that give you a feeling of accomplishment, train each week at a skill that you can watch yourself improving at, look for small achievements that you can hit easily and then build up slowly to more and more difficult ones

resilience = the ability to recover quickly from setbacks, failures and bad conditions

optimism = a mindset where you see the best in things, interpret ambiguous events positively, see the silver lining in bad things, etc.


physical-wants = hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, warmth, etc.

pain = injuries or illnesses or physical environments or social treatment that causes consistent substantial pain

Interventions: avoid repetitive stress injury by using good typing practices, avoid chronic back pain by learning to have good sitting posture, leave abusive relationships

anxiety = constantly ruminating or worrying or obsessing about what will happen or did happen (e.g. from uncertainty about basic security like clean water, nourishing food, reliable shelter, physical danger, or worrying about social rejection, or fear of failure), or regular triggers of intense fear

Interventions: regularly doing intense exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy or SSRI antidepressants if you think you may have an anxiety disorder, Exposure and Response Prevention if you think you may have OCD, Prolonged Exposure Therapy if you think you might have PTSD

loss = having something you value taken away from you, or knowing that you will lose something you value in the near future

Leave a Reply