Happiness is all around us. At least, it’s a rather hyped concept. Many, I assume, understand happiness a bit like Peter Pan when he sings:
Think of the happiest things
It’s the same as having wings
It seems easy. Happiness is for many a Disney-concept. We all need a dose every once in awhile, but it’s never enough. Still, some researcher tries to put some decent meat on the concept, for instance, the positive psychologist Martin Seligman. In his, Authentic Happiness (a title he later abandoned due to the vague concept authentic), he mentions a formula for happiness. The so-called happiness formula: H = S + C + V.
H is the level of happiness experienced, for instance, when you drink cold wine in the park with your boyfriend, or ride your bike in the sun, etc. However, if we dwell on the first scenery, apparently your boyfriend, the wine or the weather does not determine this experience alone (or do they?). The happiness present in this scenery is also determined by your biological set points (S), the conditions of your life (C), and the voluntary variables or the voluntary activities you do (V).
These, S, C, and V, of course, might be the reason why you are so damn gorgeous (S), why you just know how to choose the right wine for the occasion (C), and regarding voluntary variables, yes, you are in a position where you could have chosen to be with someone else, somewhere else, etc.
The problem with the formula is that it is a formula. And happiness is as different as each person. So, there is something unhappy about such an equation.
Traditionally psychologist will focus on what kind of C (life conditions), and V (voluntary actions) you might do to heighten the H. Some might say that it is all about biology (S), but philosophical wisdom and, for instance, positive psychology has shown that it’s possible for all to raise the level of H. Often it depends on one’s approach to what is not oneself, that is, how does one deals with life. For instance, positive psychologist advice one to see something positive in what happens (i.e. gratification, medicine, meditation, disputation, etc.). It’s interesting. However, personally I am more connected with the philosopher Gilles Deleuze, for instance, talks about being worthy of what happens, that is to say, trying to match it. As he writes in The Logic of Sense: “My wound existed before mere, I was born to embody it.” The point is to wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen. Then you will live a life worth living, be a peace. That is not Disney!
So, maybe it is as Marcel Proust once said: “Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.”