Revealing the formula for happiness

Last Friday was a beautiful winter day. There was just enough snow on the ground to remind us it was winter and the sun shone brightly all day.
As a result, I had a wonderful, productive day. I got caught up on my office work and was inspired to write. I had a lot of fun in my morning water aerobics class and achieved a high score in pinochle that evening.
I wish every day could be sunny! That’s all it would take for me to be happy.
And it turns out that I am not a special case. British researchers Pete Cohen and Carol Rothwell say that women cite sunny weather as a reason for happiness.
These researchers report that gender makes a difference. Women, for instance, report being with family also makes them happy. By contrast, men mention their hobbies and victories of their favorite sports teams more often.
Interestingly, Cohen and Rothwell even worked out a scientific equation to quantify happiness. The formula: Happiness=P + 5E + 3H.
Spelled out, the Happiness Formula is P (your Personal Outlook on life) + 5 x E (your Existence) + 3 x H (your Higher Order needs).
“This is the first equation that enables people to put a figure on their emotional state and shows what can impact positively on their overall happiness,” says Rothwell.
P=Personal Outlook. This includes your outlook on life and your adaptability—including your ability to recover quickly from setbacks.
E=Existence. This is your reality—health, family situation, finances and friendships.
H=Higher Order. This covers expectations and ambitions, self-confidence, and a sense of humour.
The happiness questionnaire developed by Cohen and Rothwell includes questions that assess your Personal Outlook. Are you outgoing, energetic, positive, flexible, and open to change?
Questions that assess your Existence include Are your basic needs met in relation to health, finance, safety, and sense of community?
And questions that measure your Higher Order include Do you have a support system? Do you immerse yourself in what you do? Do you have a sense of purpose?
How did you measure up? Are you happy according to this formula? If you said yes, that’s great. Enjoy yourself!
If not, says Cohen, remember that happiness is an “inside job.”
In his book “Feeling Good: Proven Tools for Lifelong Happiness,” Cohen says people have to discover for themselves how to become happy. He has some tips on how to increase your happiness.
Devote time to your family and close friends. Take time out from work to pursue your hobbies. Make an effort to meet new people. Live in the moment and let go of the past and the future.
Challenge yourself with clearly-defined goals.
Happiness has more to do with changing your outlook and learning to live in the moment then it has to do with status, possessions, or even life circumstances.
If you want to be happy in your old age, Cohen suggests that you should focus your attention on the positive aspects of aging, not on your fears about growing old.
And always remember that many of the factors that determine your happiness at any stage of life are in your own hands.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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