Can we represent happiness?

September 17, 2010

As shown below, if we want a representation of where we stand now, we can plot the importance and satisfaction level of each AmAre components, forming a star with five (or ten) points:

authentic happiness profile

authentic happiness profile

Can we design an approach to happy living?

From these premise, we can draft an  approach to measure and improve our current subjective well-being:

1) assessing our baseline happiness: using the formulas reviewed from Chapther 2 to Chapter 4 in our free eBook “Happiness Formula” ( )

2) assessing our priorities, and level of satisfaction with them: taking the AmAre Way test, which you find in the Appendix I of this booklet

3) monitoring our changes over-time: re-taking, for example every Wednesday,  the AmAre Way test, which you find in the appendix of this booklet

4) lifting our baseline happiness level: developing loving kidness, appreciation, compassion, equanimity. For example, by living accordingly the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers (Appendix II), meditating and embracing other constructive attitudes.  Researchers like Sonja Lyubomirsky, and authors like Tal Ben-Shahar, published seminal books on the matter.

We may build scenarios about how changes in external factors faciliate our happiness level over time, so we can improve our awareness by considering different options. To do this, further research should be carried on, reviewed and published; there are two main approaches to collect data:

– researchers ask how people think they will feel if this or that event occurs, if this or that goal is achieved, etc.

– researchers ask  people to measure the effects of events, goals, etc. on people who already experienced them, when possible right before, during, after, and long time after particular events occured.

While such approaches are complementary, we need to keep in mind that the second approach has proven, so far, more reliable: it is widely understood, proven and accepted that we often tend to over estimate the conseguences of future external factors, both positive and non-positive, on our lives. So between the step “assessing our baseline happiness” and the one “assessing our priorities”, we can insert an intermadiate step: learning more about how other fellow human beings’ happiness is affected by external factors, and then making up our minds based on our subjective evaluation of what we learn from direct experiences and what is said by researchers. Of course, well-being is subjective by definition: no two people will have the exact experience, even when they are in a similar context; but, considering that when it comes to happy living, as human beings we have more commonalities than differences, this is a n appropriate approach.

As mentioned at the start of the chapter, please consider this is a working model to assess happiness and build scenarios. When we want to measure how tall we are, we use a scale; the same we can here for our happiness, keeping in mind that measuramente of subjective phenomenons is not like measuring lenghts in the “tangible world”. The main value of this approach is to make us think, and rethink, about how we can live happily, and how external factors can facilitate, or make more difficult, to live happily. It is not meant to carry any absolute value, because at close scrutinity there are only a few of them. This is a  pragmantic approach, which we can use together with other models and approaches. It is not meant to be taken integrally as it is, or be rejected in its totality. And it is open to be furtherly optimized. Because, we have two main approaches to life: we can life happily, changing everything which need to be changed in order to care about ours and others’ well-being; or can just keep doing the same things, over and over again no matter what is the context, and in that case it will be our well-being level which will be roller-coasting up and down.

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