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In Pursuit of Happiness

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

By Lt Col R Sudhir (R) , Life and Executive Coach


Happiness is understood as the positive emotions we have in regards to the pleasurable activities we take part in through our daily lives. It is an elixir of life that keeps us buoyant, energized and alive.

Martin Seligman an American Psychologist ,gave the world its first authentic formula for happiness: H=S+C+V, where (H) stands for happiness. It is the sum of three factors: one’s genetic set-range for happiness (S), their life circumstances (C), and factors under their voluntary control (V). There is a percentage allocation for each as per positive psychologists.

let us have a brief look into the facets of happiness as defined by Positive psychologists.

Set Range (S) : Every individual has a set range by genetics but the genes do interact with the environment and our experiences its very difficult to put a value to that .

Circumstances (C) : These are the circumstances that are in the environment, experience and upbringing which is mostly beyond your control.

Voluntary (V) : These are voluntary activities which are in your control .

So what is that you could change in your equation to happiness?

Voluntary actions: We have maximum influence on the voluntary activities, for which we have complete control . I have earlier covered the topic of locus of control in my earlier blogs which is also a key determiner of our happiness we attach to the external world and create a dependency for own happiness on them.

Voluntary happiness has two distinct parts:-

Hedonistic happiness: achieved through experiences of pleasure and enjoyment

  • It is a feel good syndrome

  • pleasure is one of the element of happiness

  • Art ,aesthetics ,money ,altruism are higher order pleasures that bring happiness

  • food ,sex , drugs, alcohol are lower order pleasures

Often this sort of happiness leads to a need, which becomes a goal. Once the goal is met it leads to reduced dopamine activity in the brain , more so if the result is predictable. This leads to saturation and we get back to our set point of happiness. The process leads us to a newer goals which is more tempting challenging and creates the dopamine rush and we crave for the next stage eagerly ,till we reach the new goal and get back to our set levels of happiness .The whole process is a hedonistic treadmill.

The hedonistic treadmill may lead us to a cycle of addiction and entanglement . This cycle of Happiness is aggravated by human biases like Postponement, blame the circumstances, delaying tactics and self deception we do to ourselves and the world around us. For Instance:-

When I move to my home at Delhi next year , I would lead a peaceful life and be happy ,and I will settle my health and issues!

I will eat a large portion of this chocolate cake last time for now .I will exercise from next week to cut calories!

I can drink two more today, as I have toiled hard at office, Hurray!

Eudemonic happiness: This is a happiness of psychological well being and self actualization. This type of happiness is long term and lasting. The happiness revolves around purpose ,meaning and values. This is about a life well lived.

Some ways this could translate are:-

  • Memories : Remembering best moments of time past and present. Letting go the past which doesn't serve any more good. Let go strings attached to our early life and think afresh.

  • Supportive social network: How an Individual could cultivate a supporting network around him/her. Having a social net work and creating a self worth generates happy hormone serotonin in the gut and brain .It develops at the sight of trust , self belief and self worth.

  • Physical resources : Creating the wealth and resources that would meet the basic needs.

  • Ability and opportunity for physical pleasure

  • Balance of care for others and care for self

  • Balance of achievement and money

  • Maximum commitment on the Journey and minimum attachment on the results

Summary: The hedonistic happiness is addictive and ruled by the dopamine cycle whereas, eudemonic happiness is driven by serotonin a neurotransmitter in the brain which gives a sense of personal worth and trust. Some things we could practice to create a happy environment and make ourselves happy could be :

  • Put heart on the journey and not the destination. The beauty is in the road to happiness carved out of stones, bushes ,thorns and difficulties.

  • live your values in the Journey to task accomplishment. Happiness lies in the value we attach to the methods and means we follow to do our tasks .It gives a huge sense of self worth and cements integrity of what we want to do and what we actually do.

  • Common sense check: Don't feel unhappy if results are out of control. Many a time we fail to see the external environment and system affects.

  • Success and achievement are bonus in things we do.

  • Have gratitude for where and what you are and what you got in life.

  • Have a growth plan : grow your love, economy ,wealth ,ideas which are priceless at the right place and time to multiply abundance ,and growth to the world and yourself.

  • Give what you can to the world giving is happiness amplified .

  • Balance: care for others and self. We cant make others happy if we cant take care of our basic needs.

  • Balance : Money and achievement.

  • Practice mindfulness and be self aware, self conscious and shower empathy and compassion around the world.

How do you ensure happiness in your daily lives ? How can we spread happiness around us?

Kindly share thoughts!

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1 Comment

Jojo Jacob
Jojo Jacob
Nov 09, 2021

Dear Sir

Wonderful to see you active in the blog space. Your article is short, sweet and to the point. It took me sometime to balance out certain aspects of life and hence the delay in reading the same.

Happy blogging

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