The other day I was listening to an Art Of Charm podcast episode featuring James Altucher. During the conversation, Altucher offers up a formula for happiness that resonated with me for two reasons:
1) It’s a formula, and I’m a math teacher. Math nerds unite.
2) It makes a simple and concise point as to how to acquire happiness in your life.
Put plainly, Altucher’s formula (pictured as the feature image of this post) says that happiness is found by taking everything that reality is, and then dividing it by your expectations of that reality. As we all know, the realities of this life are infinite and unknowing. There are so many people, events, emotions, and circumstances that make up that reality, that it’s impossible to quantify. We have very little control, if any, on the reality served to us from the universe. Expectations, however, are a part of this formula that we can control. What we expect from, and how we feel about, the world that we live in is entirely up to us. Therefore, what Altucher suggests, is that if we can minimize our expectations of our reality, we can yield more happiness. This is not to say that you should be a pessimist and expect the bare minimum. It IS saying that we should keep things in perspective so that our goals and expectations of how our life turns out aren’t unrealistic.
For instance, if you have goals of making a million dollars in one year, and right now you make $45,000, chances are that your goal is out of reach and will stress you out as you try to achieve it. If you have a goal of getting married within the year, but you aren’t dating anyone right now, your expectations are a bit high.
If we can keep our expectations in check, the fraction that happiness is derived from provides a bigger value for that happiness we seek.
Let me break it down in terms that everyone can vibe with since I know that not everyone loves numbers, fractions, and math in general.
Let’s say you order a pizza and your goal is to have as much of the pizza as possible. In the midst of ordering the pizza, some of your friends stop over.
If your goal is to eat as much pizza as possible, your formula on how to achieve that would look something like this:
See, the more friends that stop over, the less pizza you get to eat. So if the goal is to have more pizza for you, you need to minimize the amount of friends that come over.
If you can minimize the number on the bottom of the fraction, when divided, the overall value of the fraction is larger.
Therefore, to come back to Altucher’s formula, if we can again minimize the bottom of our happiness fraction (keep our expectations small and limited), the bigger the value of the overall happiness fraction. It seems simple, and it is. Again, it’s not being pessimistic. It’s just keeping our expectations of what we cannot control low so that we have a higher probability of being happy in the end.
Now go out and be happy; it’s more in your control than you think.
Until next time,