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The Happiness Formula

Happiness is directly proportional to reality.

If you love to travel and you are visiting a new country every year, then you are happier than if you were visiting none. If you love football, you are happier if you play every weekend than if you play once a month.

It can also be about things that you don't like. If you hate commuting in the traffic, you are happier if you spend half an hour in the traffic than if you spent an hour each day.

Reality is what is. In some cases, you have control over it. You can make sure you play football every weekend. And in some cases, you don't have control over it. You can't ensure you spend not more than half an hour a day in the traffic. Well, you can move closer to your work place, but that might mean going down on some other factor that is important to you.

And happiness is inversely proportional to positive expectations.

If you love to travel and you are visiting a new country every year but you expect yourself to visit three new countries every year, then you are less happier than if you expected yourself to visit one new country every year.

Likewise on the other cases.

Positive expectations is completely in your control. I mean, you set these expectations. But what makes it hard to set the right expectations to balance with the reality is social pressure. When the benchmark for your expectations is someone else and not you, that makes things harder. Which is why I love the absolute. Your expectation should be something like 'I should visit x number of countries this year' and not something like 'I should visit more countries than her this year'.

You might have noticed that I emphasised on 'positive' expectations. That is because negative expectations don't have a long term effect on happiness. If you are afraid that you'll not visit any new country this year and if you end up visiting one, then there is temporary relief and a fleeting sense of happiness, but the moment that visit is over, you are back to living in the gloom of your negative expectations.

This is completely in your control as well.

And that is it.

The formula is simply to balance the positive expectations with reality. 

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