Tag Archives: Happiness Formulas

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

8.0 Disclaimer
Scientific research about happiness provides a wealth of information, and facilitates substantially to live a happy life. It makes accessible to all the aggregated experiences of many other human beings, who are daily living their lives in the best way they can. It also provides several valuable inputs to policy makers, not just individuals.

Some important points to consider, in order to make the best out of the positive effects that scientific research has on living joyfully:

– self-fulfilling prophecies: with “exact” sciences like physics, describing a phenomenon doesn’t change it, even if of course it influences the way we look at it. Regardless of what we measure as the value of the gravity law, the speed at which stones fall is not affected. Research about happiness, and what makes people happy, is bounded to influence happiness-reinforcing actions.

– diminishing returns and intentions: what facilitate our happiness today may have lower positive impact in the future, because we get used it; this is especially true with pleasant activities; lasting happiness is about our outlook about the present, not only about what we do. Also, intentions count a lot: sharing time and resources with other people makes us more happy than buying something for ourselves; this is what both our experience and scientific research tells us. Still, just based on this, we would give everything away an expect to become happy for ever, we would be in for disappointment. Sharing facilitates happiness when we feel the importance of sharing, and not when we pursue sharing like a task to egoistically enhance our well-being.

8.1 Defining happiness and subjective well-being

Eudaimonia is a classical Greek word, commonly translated as happiness. Consisting of the word “eu” (“good” or “well being”) and “daimōn” (“spirit”, used by extension one’s fortune), it often refers to human flourishing. It was a central concept in ancient Greek ethics, along with the term “arete” (“virtue”) and phronesis (practical or moral wisdom). Webster dictionary defines happiness as “A) state of well-being and contentment, joy. B) a pleasurable or satisfying experience”.

These definitions show that the different aspects of happiness are given different importance by different people; the meaning of happiness in the ears of the listener. For some, it is an inflated term plastered on self-help books; for others, a way of living achieved by living in harmony with ourselves, events, conditions, people and environment around us.

Subjective well-being is not the same as happiness, even if such terms are often used as synonymous. Subjective well-being, as defined by Ed Diener, covers “a broad category of phenomena that includes people’s emotional responses, domain satisfactions, and global judgements of life satisfaction. Subjective well-being consists of two distinctive components: an affective part (evaluation guided by emotions and feeling), which refers to both the presence of positive affect (PA) and the absence of negative affect (NA), and a cognitive part (information-based appraisal of one’s life, evaluated using expectations and “ideal life” as benchmark). It is commonly abbreviated as SWB.

The usage of the term “subjective well-being”, or even the term “joy”, is much less widespread then the one “happiness”. For this reason, while we use happiness in the title of this eBook because that is what people search for online and it is widely mentioned in the field of positive psychology, a suitable way to rephrase it is, in our opinion, is “living joyfully” (when referred to the ordinary meaning of the word), and to use the already mentioned “subjective well-being” which is the accepted standard when it comes to scientific research.

8.2 Measuring subjective well-being
We have already covered some approaches to measure SWB in the previous seven chapters. There are several ways SWB has been measured, both on a collective and individual basis. Often, countries are ranked by their happiness, and cities by how liveable they are.

This ranks how well nations combine level and differences in happiness, for the period 2000-2009, as reported by Veenhoven, R., World Database of Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam (available at: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl accessed on July 7th, 2010):

Costa Rica

The Economist Intelligent Survey ranks the most liveable cities in the World, the list is available on http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2009/06/liveable_vancouver

8.3 Maximizing subjective well-being

Since social-sciences This is a selection of scientific findings about SWB; as every selection, more could have been add, and we can discover more about it by reading in full the books of the authors mentioned here, and their colleagues.

Mindfulness: as reported by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, study participants who appreciate positive moments of their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression”.

Money aren’t everthing: researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan found that “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there. The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.”. Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization. These findings are consistent across nations and cultures.

Have Meaningful Goals: this has been a recurrent them along the eBook. “People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable” according to Tal Ben-Shahar.

Exercising matters: exercising delivers a sense of accomplishment, plus opportunity for interaction with people and environment, releasing endorphins and boosting self-esteem. And, under the supervision of a doctor, it may be very effective in healing depression.

Positive outlook: “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener.

8.4 Sustaining subjective well-being
If we pursue a meaningful life, or flow, happiness tend to be sustainable, and even self-reinforcing. But if we are on the hedonic treadmill, running here and there but in reality always being at point zero in terms of living joyfully, then in reality we are just aiming at pleasure (with its hedonic adaptation which results in declining value in how we perceive the same activities other time). And, in this case, variety doesn’t really help us; as Daniel Gilbert (Harvard Professor of Psychology and author of “Stumbling on Happiness”) says: “Research shows that people do tend to seek more variety than they should. We all think we should try a different doughnut every time we go to the shop, but the fact is that people are measurably happier when they have their favourite on every visit – provided the visits are sufficiently separated in time”. As Daniel Gilbert (Harvard Professor of Psychology and author of “Stumbling on Happiness”) says: “The main error, of course, is that we vastly overestimate the hedonic consequences of any event. Neither positive nor negative events hit us as hard or for as long as we anticipate. This “impact bias” has proved quite robust in both field and laboratory settings”. He also adds: “We are often quite poor at predicting what will make us happy in the future for two reasons. First, we have been given a lot of disinformation about happiness by two sources: Genes and culture. Both genes and cultures are self-perpetuating entities that need us to do things for them so that they can survive. Because we are interested in our own happiness and not theirs, both entities fool us into believing that’s what is good for them is also good for us”. Does this mean we should relay only on scientists to know more about our happiness? Surely not, but we also to be aware of the effects gene and meme have on our assumptions about happiness; assumptions and beliefs are formulated when we do not know, let’s live joyfully so we can then evaluate by ourselves what are appropriate ways to act in each situation.

8.5 Subjective well-being and generosity
Elizabeth W. Dunn is assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and is well-known for her research in the field of happiness, self knowledge, affective forecasting, implicit social cognition. In the conclusions of her paper titled “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness”, she wrote “While much research has examined the effect of income on happiness, we suggest that how people spend their money may be at least as important as how much money they earn. Specifically, we hypothesized that spending money on other people may have a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. Providing converging evidence for this hypothesis, we found that spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field study of windfall spending). Finally, participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves.

8.5 Subjective well-being and social networks
Human relationships are consistently found to be the most important correlation with human happiness. Happier people tend to have good relations with family and friends, as said by Diener and Biswas-Diener, who also add that “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring. Studies, including the one published on the British Medical Journal, reported that happiness in social networks may spread from person to person. Quoting its conclusions: “While there are many determinants of happiness, whether an individual is happy also depends on whether others in the individual’s social network are happy. Happy people tend to be located in the centre of their local social networks and in large clusters of other happy people. The happiness of an individual is associated with the happiness of people up to three degrees removed in the social network. Happiness, in other words, is not merely a function of individual experience or individual choice but is also a property of groups of people. Indeed, changes in individual happiness can ripple through social networks and generate large scale structure in the network, giving rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals. These results are even more remarkable considering that happiness requires close physical proximity to spread and that the effect decays over time.

Our results are consistent with previous work on the evolutionary basis of human emotions and with work focusing on the fleeting direct spread of emotions. In addition to their internal and psychological relevance, emotions have a specifically social role: when humans experience emotions, they tend to show them. Like laughter and smiling, the emotion of happiness might serve the evolutionarily adaptive purpose of enhancing social bonds. Human laughter, for example, is believed to have evolved from the“play face” expression seen in other primates in relaxed social situations. Such facial expressions and positive emotions enhance social relations by producing analogous pleasurable feelings in others, by rewarding the efforts of others, and by encouraging ongoing social contact. Given the organization of people (and early hominids) into social groups larger than pairs, such spread in emotions probably served evolutionarily adaptive purposes. There are thus good biological, psychological, and social reasons to suppose that social networks (both in terms of their large scale structure and in terms of the interpersonal ties of which they are composed) would be relevant to human happiness.

Our data do not allow us to identify the actual causal mechanisms of the spread of happiness, but various mechanisms are possible. Happy people might share their good fortune (for example, by being pragmatically helpful or financially generous to others), or change their behaviour towards others (for example, by being nicer or less hostile), or merely exude an emotion that is genuinely contagious (albeit over a longer time frame than previous psychological work has indicated). Psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms are also conceivable, whereby being surrounded by happy individuals has beneficial biological effects.

The spread of happiness seems to reach up to three degrees of separation, just like the spread of obesity and smoking behaviour. Hence, although the person to person effects of these outcomes tend to be quite strong, they decay well before reaching the whole network. In other words, the reach of a particular behaviour or mood cascade is not limitless. We conjecture that this phenomenon is generic. We might yet find that a “three degrees of influence rule” applies to depression, anxiety, loneliness, drinking, eating, exercise, and many other health related activities and emotional states, and that this rule restricts the effective spread of health phenomena to three degrees of separation away from the ego.

Our findings have relevance for public health. To the extent that clinical or policy manoeuvres increase the happiness of one person, they might have cascade effects on others, thereby enhancing the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the intervention. For example, illness is a potential source of unhappiness for patients and also for those individuals surrounding the patient. Providing better care for those who are sick might not only improve their happiness but also the happiness of numerous others, thereby further vindicating the benefits of medical care or health promotion. There is of course a tradition of community approaches to mental health, but this longstanding concern is now being coupled with a burgeoning interest in health and social networks. More generally, conceptions of health and concerns for the well-being of both individuals and populations are increasingly broadening to include diverse “quality of life” attributes, including happiness. Most important from our perspective is the recognition that people are embedded in social networks and that the health and well- being of one person affects the health and well-being of others. This fundamental fact of existence provides a conceptual justification for the speciality of public health. Human happiness is not merely the province of isolated individuals”.

This is chapter Eight of “Happiness Formulas. How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?”. This free eBook can be downloaded from
or from the home-page of the Institute of subjective well-being: science of happiness .

Happiness = Economic + Environmental + Physical + Mental + Workplace + Social + Political Wellness

7.1 How to calculate it?
There is no exact quantitative definition of GNH, but elements that contribute to it are subject to quantitative measurement. Med Jones, President of International Institute of Management, introduced an enhanced GNH concept, treating happiness as a socioeconomic development metric. It tracks socioeconomic development in 7 areas

– Economic Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of economic metrics (consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio, income distribution, etc.)

– Environmental Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of environmental metrics (pollution, noise, traffic, etc.)

– Physical Wellness: measurement of physical health metrics (severe illnesses, etc.)

– Mental Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of mental health metrics (usage of antidepressants, rise/decline of psychotherapy patients, etc.)

– Workplace Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of labour metrics (jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits, etc.)

– Social Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of social metrics (discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, crime rates, etc.)

– Political Wellness: measured by direct survey and statistical measurement of political metrics (quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts, etc.)

7.2 What does it mean?
Gross national happiness (GNH) was coined in 1972 by then Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. GNH is based on the premise that some forms of development are not measurable in monetary terms (a concept that is advanced by the nascent field of ecological economics) while conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective.

7.3 Where are references and further information?

“Gross National Happiness (Buthan)” is chapter Seven of “Happiness Formulas. How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?”. This free eBook can be downloaded from
or from the home-page of the Institute of subjective well-being: science of happiness .

Happiness = Life Evaluation + Emotional Health + Physical Health + Healthy Behaviour + Work Environment + Basic Access

6.1 How to calculate it?

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures health and well-being in USA. For at least 25 years, the Well-Being Index will collect and measure the daily pulse of US well-being. Survey respondents are asked an in-depth series of questions associated with health and well-being about:
– Life Evaluation
– Emotional Health
– Physical Health
– Healthy Behaviour
– Work Environment
– Basic Access

As reported on their site http://www.well-beingindex.com “The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index segments the data for respondents in both adverse and optimum situations according to household income, location demographics (based on zip code), and personal health status. The results are reported in continuous daily, weekly, and monthly averages. The survey methods for Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index relies on live (not automated) interviewers, dual-frame random-digit-dial (RDD) sampling (which includes landlines as well as wireless phone sampling to reach those in wireless-only households), and a random selection method for choosing respondents within a household. Additionally, daily tracking includes Spanish-language interviews for respondents who speak only Spanish, includes interviews in Alaska and Hawaii, and relies on a multi-call design to reach respondents not contacted on the initial attempt. The data are weighted daily to compensate for disproportions in selection probabilities and nonresponse. The data are weighted to match targets from the U.S. Census Bureau”.

For corporate use, the same organization designed the Healthways Well-Being Assessment. It is administered by Healthways to employers, health plans and other organizations, leveraging Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index questions for a baseline comparison against the nation and geographical areas. It emphasizes employee health, employee productivity, work environment (including job stress, satisfaction with benefits, employee engagement), a culture of health assessing the organization’s support of healthy lifestyle choices. The Healthways Well-Being Assessment also contains additional depth of measurement on health risks and employee productivity.

6.2 What does it mean?

By helping Americans understand how work impacts life and health and conversely how life affects work and health, Gallup-Healthways aims to work together to improve well-being for a better way of life.

6.3 Where are references and further information?


Happiness = (positive words) – (non-positive words)

5.1 How to calculate it?
Facebook itself calculates the index, by automatically and anonymously analyzing the number of positive and negative words in status updates for selected Countries. Of course, this means that, even when facebookers are just passing along a story, the words contained in a breaking-news can influence the index. For example, the Australia’s index was lowest on Feb. 13, 2008, the day Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized in Parliament to indigenous Australians, reflecting the 4 percent of Aussie status updates containing the word “sorry.”
Data is aggregated in graphs, containing several metrics. GNH, represents Facebook measure of Gross National Happiness. Positivity and Negativity represent the two components of GNH: the extent to which words used on that day were positive and negative. Gross National Happiness is the difference between the positivity and negativity scores, though they are interesting to view on their own. The same model is applied separately to each country analyzed. Each model is thus calibrated differently, which eliminates effects due to differences in the countries’ population and language use. .

5.2 What does it mean?
These are some findings, as published on March 2010 by Facebook Data Team:

* Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are still among the happiest days for all of these nations, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday are happiest days of the week.

* Canadians are happier the day before Canadian Thanksgiving (a Sunday) than on the actual Canadian Thanksgiving Day (a Monday).

* Happiness levels in the UK seem to have the least variation, with the fewest large peaks among all the graphs due to holidays.

5.3 Where are references and further information?
Facebook GNH

Google Insight: a tool similar to Facebook GNH, to show where (please keep in consideration people mainly use native language to search online) and what people are searching for when it comes to Happiness  http://www.google.com/insights/search/#cat=19&q=happiness&date=1%2F2010%2012m&cmpt=q

This is chapter Five of “Happiness Formulas. How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?”. This free eBook can be downloaded from
or from the home-page of the Institute of subjective well-being: science of happiness .

Happiness = social relationships + work/study satisfaction + confidence

4.1 How to calculate it?

Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1 – 7 scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by placing the appropriate number on the line preceding that item. Please be open and honest in your responding.
1)7 – Strongly agree
2)6 – Agree
3)5 – Slightly agree
4)4 – Neither agree nor disagree
5)3 – Slightly disagree
6)2 – Disagree
7)1 – Strongly disagree
____ In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
____ The conditions of my life are excellent.
____ I am satisfied with my life.
____ So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
____ If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.

4.2 What does it mean?
The SWLS is a short 5-item instrument designed to measure global cognitive judgements of satisfaction with one’s life. The scale usually requires only about one minute of a respondent’s time.

30 – 35 Very high score; highly satisfied
Respondents who score in this range love their lives and feel that things are going very well. Their lives are not perfect, but they feel that things are about as good as lives get. Furthermore, just because the person is satisfied does not mean she or he is complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason the respondent is satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well – work or school, family, friends, leisure, and personal development.

25- 29 High score
Individuals who score in this range like their lives and feel that things are going well. Of course their lives are not perfect, but they feel that things are mostly good. Furthermore, just because the person is satisfied does not mean she or he is complacent. In fact, growth and challenge might be part of the reason the respondent is satisfied. For most people in this high-scoring range, life is enjoyable, and the major domains of life are going well – work or school, family, friends, leisure, and personal development. The person may draw motivation from the areas of dissatisfaction.

20 – 24 Average score
The average of life satisfaction in economically developed nations is in this range – the majority of people are generally satisfied, but have some areas where they very much would like some improvement. Some individuals score in this range because they are mostly satisfied with most areas of their lives but see the need for some improvement in each area. Other respondents score in this range because they are satisfied with most domains of their lives, but have one or two areas where they would like to see large improvements. A person scoring in this range is normal in that they have areas of their lives that need improvement. However, an individual in this range would usually like to move to a higher level by making some life changes.

15 – 19 Slightly below average in life satisfaction
People who score in this range usually have small but significant problems in several areas of their lives, or have many areas that are doing fine but one area that represents a substantial problem for them. If a person has moved temporarily into this level of life satisfaction from a higher level because of some recent event, things will usually improve over time and satisfaction will generally move back up. On the other hand, if a person is chronically slightly dissatisfied with many areas of life, some changes might be in order. Sometimes the person is simply expecting too much, and sometimes life changes are needed. Thus, although temporary dissatisfaction is common and normal, a chronic level of dissatisfaction across a number of areas of life calls for reflection. Some people can gain motivation from a small level of dissatisfaction, but often dissatisfaction across a number of life domains is a distraction, and unpleasant as well.

10 – 14 Dissatisfied
People who score in this range are substantially dissatisfied with their lives. People in this range may have a number of domains that are not going well, or one or two domains that are going very badly. If life dissatisfaction is a response to a recent event such as bereavement, divorce, or a significant problem at work, the person will probably return over time to his or her former level of higher satisfaction. However, if low levels of life satisfaction have been chronic for the person, some changes are in order – both in attitudes and patterns of thinking, and probably in life activities as well. Low levels of life satisfaction in this range, if they persist, can indicate that things are going badly and life alterations are needed. Furthermore, a person with low life satisfaction in this range is sometimes not functioning well because their unhappiness serves as a distraction. Talking to a friend, member of the clergy, counsellor, or other specialist can often help the person get moving in the right direction, although positive change will be up the person. 5 – 9 Extremely Dissatisfied Individuals who score in this range are usually extremely unhappy with their current life. In some cases this is in reaction to some recent bad event such as widowhood or unemployment. In other cases, it is a response to a chronic problem such as alcoholism or addiction. In yet other cases the extreme dissatisfaction is a reaction due to something bad in life such as recently having lost a loved one. However, dissatisfaction at this level is often due to dissatisfaction in multiple areas of life. Whatever the reason for the low level of life satisfaction, it may be that the help of others are needed – a friend or family member, counseling with a member of the clergy, or help from a psychologist or other counsellor. If the dissatisfaction is chronic, the person needs to change, and often others can help.

4.3 Where are references and further information?
Ed Diener, Robert A. Emmons, Randy J. Larsen and Sharon Griffin as noted in the 1985 article in the Journal of Personality Assessment

Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE)

Flourishing Scale

Happiness = Pleasure + flow + meaning

3.1 How to calculate it?
Martin Seligman, leading positive psychologists, offer a wealth of questionnaires in their books and websites, more information are provided in 3.3. Considering such questionnaires are self-calculated using their online version, here we just provide extremely simplified versions:

Happiness (Seligman) = Pleasure + flow + meaning

Simplified version = [(Hours spent doing pleasant activities) + (Hours spent in total immersion) + (Hours spent doing meaningful activities)] / Number of days considered

For simplicity, you can calculate this by adding the average amount of hours you spend in one day doing what brings you pleasure, what starts a flow and what really gives a meaning to your life.

For example: 30 minutes spent eating + 120 minutes spent speaking on the phone with clients + 60 minutes spent volunteering

Or you can have a more detailed view, for example by keeping a diary for one month where you write the way you allocate your time daily, and then divide it by the number of days in that month.

3.2 What does it mean?
Martin Seligman, thanks to four decades of research in the field, found there are three main pillars for happiness. Pleasure is the most commonly experienced, and also the least lasting; for example, the pleasure derived from eating an ice-cream, with declining marginal benefit derived from each bite. Flow is about total absorption in a specific task, which can be as short as writing an important email or as long as working on a book. Meaning is the life with a purpose which, for its own definition, is not happening often and is the longer lasting.

Another positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, offers an equation where Happiness = Genetic Set Point + Life Circumstances + Intentional Activities.

3.3 Where are references and further information?
About Martin Seligman’s research:

About Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research:

Happiness = A – R

2.1 How to calculate it?

The Questionnaire is also available on http://www.meaningandhappiness.com/oxford-happiness-questionnaire/214/ This whole chapter is copied verbatim from it. Instructions: Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:

1 = strongly disagree
2 = moderately disagree
3 = slightly disagree
4 = slightly agree
5 = moderately agree
6 = strongly agree

Please read the statements carefully, because some are phrased positively and others negatively. Don’t take too long over individual questions; there are no “right” or “wrong” answers (and no trick questions). The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult, please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.

The Questionnaire:
1. I don’t feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____

2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____

3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____

4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____

5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____

6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____

7. I find most things amusing. _____

8. I am always committed and involved. _____

9. Life is good. _____

10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____

11. I laugh a lot. _____

12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____

13. I don’t think I look attractive. (R) _____

14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____

15. I am very happy. _____

16. I find beauty in some things. _____

17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____

18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____

19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____

20. I feel able to take anything on. _____

21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____

22. I often experience joy and elation. _____

23. I don’t find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____

24. I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____

25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____

26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____

27. I don’t have fun with other people. (R) _____

28. I don’t feel particularly healthy. (R) _____

29. I don’t have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____

Calculate your score:
Step 1. Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:

If you gave yourself a “1,” cross it out and change it to a “6.”
Change “2” to a “5”
Change “3” to a “4”
Change “4” to a “3″
Change “5” to a “2″
Change “6″ to a “1″

Step 2. Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)

Step 3. Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.

I recommend you record your score and the date. Then you’ll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date. This can be especially helpful if you are trying some of the exercises, and actively working on increasing your happiness.

2.2 What does it mean?
This part is copied verbatim from http://www.meaningandhappiness.com/oxford-happiness-questionnaire/214/

I suggest you read all the entries below regardless of what score you got, because I think there’s valuable information here for everyone.

1-2: Not happy. If you answered honestly and got a very low score, you’re probably seeing yourself and your situation as worse than it really is. I recommend taking the Depression Symptoms test (CES-D Questionnaire) at the University of Pennsylvania’s “Authentic Happiness” Testing Center. You’ll have to register, but this is beneficial because there are a lot of good tests there and you can re-take them later and compare your scores.

2-3: Somewhat unhappy. Try some of the exercises on this site like the Gratitude Journal & Gratitude Lists, or the Gratitude Visit; or take a look at the “Authentic Happiness” site mentioned immediately above.

3-4: Not particularly happy or unhappy. A score of 3.5 would be an exact numerical average of happy and unhappy responses. Some of the exercises mentioned just above have been tested in scientific studies and have been shown to make people lastingly happier.

4: Somewhat happy or moderately happy. Satisfied. This is what the average person scores.

4-5: Rather happy; pretty happy. Check other score ranges for some of my suggestions.

5-6: Very happy. Being happy has more benefits than just feeling good. It’s correlated with benefits like health, better marriages, and attaining your goals. Check back – I’ll be writing a post about this topic soon.

6: Too happy. Yes, you read that right. Recent research seems to show that there’s an optimal level of happiness for things like doing well at work or school, or for being healthy, and that being “too happy” may be associated with lower levels of such things.

2.3 Where are references and further information?
Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1073–1082.

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire is chapter two, of “Happiness Formulas. How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?”. This free eBook can be downloaded from
or from the home-page of the Institute of subjective well-being: science of happiness .

Happiness = Aware (Being) + Meditating + Active (Being) + Respectful (Being) + Eating (Properly)

Explanation of variables:
A: Aware (being) of each other and couple’s feelings, thoughts, needs and wants
M: Meditating together, or at least sharing thoughts
A1:Active (being) together, do things together
R: Respectful (being) of each other and couple’s feelings, thoughts, needs and wants
E: Eating properly and support each other healthy lifestyle, and also feed the relationship with positive feelings and thoughts
(…): if there are additional aspects considered too important to be included in the rest of the formula, they can be weighted and graded here

For each variable, please specify:
w: weight, importance given to each aspect (sum of all weights should be 100)
g: grade, rating given to each aspect (each grade is a value between 0 and 1)

If you want to use a spreadsheet, where you can insert the values and see them automatically calculated, you can use: http://spsh.amareway.org/.

1.1 What does it mean?
AmAre formula is meant to be descriptive and preventive, but not predictive. That is, it quantifies the current situation, and the strengths and weaknesses we should be aware of and act upon. Regardless of what the number says, we are always responsible, here and now, for our happiness, so a high result means we should keep building our happiness as we have successfully done so far, and a lower result means there are aspects to act upon to improve our lives.

One of the formula’s strengths is its unlikeness to reach One, the perfect score, or Zero. This formula is useful so we can improve our awareness about the situation so far, and build a better present. Once the formula served its purposes, we can move on. Because the ultimate happiness is not reaching number 1, it is in finding and renewing the appropriate life-dynamics. If we can accept the way life is, and the fact that different people assign different weights and grades to the pillars of their happiness, and still respect and care about all of us, doing our best for the mutual happiness, we are on the way to build together a lasting happy living.

This is a scale to interpret the overall result of the formula:

0-0.3: This is a very unlikely result, so please double check each values inserted. If values are correct, it is very likely the perception of your SWB tends toward emphasizing the non-positive aspects, or that you had a short-term serious issue. This means there is a need to work on all your priorities to make them more satisfying to you in the medium term.

0.31-0.60: Your level of SWB could be higher, if you are closer to 0.31 result. If you are closer to 0.5, you are near an exact average value where you perceive the same value of positive and non-positive components in your life. In both cases, by working on the AmAre variables (starting from the ones with higher weight and lower grade), you can substantially improve your well-being.

0.61-0.90: You tend towards an optimal level of SWB. You feel happy, and likely experienced most or at least many of the happiness “fringe benefits”. You likely live joyfully everyday: no matter the ups and downs we all have, you can make the best of them for yourself and the people around you.

0.91-1: This result is very unlikely to be reached, so please double check each values inserted. If values are correct, you achieved the maximum level of SWB.

To interpret the value of each AmAre variable, you can use the same scale. If a variable is high in weight, and low in grade, then it requires attention and action to improve it. If a variable is low in weight, and high in grade, then you may ask yourself if its grade is slightly over estimated.

We suggest to calculate your AmAre Index once per week for the first 5 weeks. Then, to calculate it once per month. Please make sure to start from scratch at each calculation, meaning you should not check values assigned in the past; after calculating your current AmAre Index, you can then check what changed compared to the previous calculations. If you want to be reminded about monthly calculation, you can register the AmAre newsletter at the top of the page.