The Happiness Formula

I recently read this formula for marital stability in “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman: “Frequency of lovemaking minus frequency of quarrels.”

So simple! Love it. For a stable relationship, you don’t want to be in the negative. Have more sex (or same amount, I guess) as fights, and you’ll be fine. Science!

I thought, is there a formula for happiness? I’ve recently been obsessed with the idea of doing/not doing, so I’ll start there. How’s this:

“Time spent playing minus time spent working.”

Play more (or the same amount) as you work and you’ll be happy.

In this instance, I want to explain what I mean by play (and work). Play, in my mind, is any time you’re doing what you enjoy. Even if you’re at “work,” if you’re enjoying that time (your job is to test the bounciness of balls?), that’s play. And if you’re “playing” (out for drinks…) but aren’t enjoying it (…with coworkers), I count that as work.

So while you may work 8 hours (or more) a day, make sure you don’t “work” that whole time. Either find a job you enjoy, or find moments you enjoy throughout the day. Take breaks, chat with coworkers, do what you need to do to enjoy that time, and make sure you’re always on the play side of the sliding scale.

Do I have proof this works? Is this science? Not yet. But Imma try it and see. I’ll look back at my day and roughly keep tabs on how much time I spent enjoying and how much I spent not enjoying, then see if it coincides with my mood. If I played more, was I happier than days when I worked more?

I’ll also play with it live. If I’m currently in a somber mood, I’ll take a moment to do something I enjoy. If I’m too happy and loving life, I’ll take some time to work. Purposely do something I don’t enjoy? Sure! Now’s your chance to clean the house! Clean it until it feels shitty, and as you feel the scale sliding towards “work,” switch and do something you enjoy, like messing up the house.

Enjoy life more than you don't enjoy life, and you'll enjoy life. Simple. Anyway, there's the formula if you want to try it. Let me know how it goes.

More posts to come on how not to work. (As long as I enjoy writing them.)

Back when I "worked."
Back when I "worked."