Happiness = Ten minus five or thereabouts!

Brilliant mathematics without the need for a calculator!

Thanks to the bottomless resources of the Internet, I could quickly find a relevant quote or two to open up today’s Post.  Rene Descartes (1596-1650) was reputed to have said, “Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.

Sorry, couldn’t resist that!  It wasn’t the quote relevant to this essay but it was too good to miss.  (Descartes was also the person who coined the phrase: I think therefore I am!)

 The quote that I thought was relevant was this one from Descartes, “With me everything turns into mathematics.”  Well until I read something recently on the Big Think website I would have been certain that the emotions, such as happiness, were well beyond reach of the logical power of mathematics.  I was wrong!

Big Think recently reported on a new book from Mr. Chip Conley called Emotional Equations where he …….,

….. argues (against Einstein, as it happens), that everything that counts can and ought to be counted. A hotelier by trade, he says that GDP and the bottom line are blunt instruments for measuring the health of a society or a business. After the dot.com crash of 2001, and a visit to the Buddhist nation of Bhutan, which has a “Gross National Happiness” index, Conley and his team decided to create indices for measuring the well-being of their employees and customers.

And a paragraph later continues,

In Emotional Equations, Conley takes the mathematics of human happiness a step further, creating simple formulas like anxiety = uncertainty x powerlessness, which, when used systematically, he says, can give individuals and organizations a concrete method for addressing the human needs that drive them.

The description of the book on the Amazon website is thus,

Mr Chip Conley

Using brilliantly simple math that illuminates universal emotional truths, Emotional Equations crystallizes some of life’s toughest challenges into manageable facets that readers can see clearly—and bits they can control. Popular motivational speaker and bestselling author Chip Conley has created an exciting, new, immediately accessible visual lexicon for mastering the age of uncertainty. Making mathematics out of emotions may seem a counterintuitive idea, but it’s an inspiring and incredibly effective one in Chip Conley’s hands. When Conley, dynamic author of the bestselling Peak, suffered a series of tragedies, he began using what he came to call “Emotional Equations” (like Joy = Love – Fear) to help him focus on the variables in life that he could deal with, rather than ruminating on the unchangeable constants he couldn’t, like the bad economy, death, and taxes. Now this award-winning entrepreneur shares his amazing new self-help paradigm with the rest of us. Emotional Equations offers an immediately understandable means of identifying the elements in our lives that we can change, those we can’t, and how they interact to create the emotions that define us and can help or hurt our progress through life. Equations like “Despair = Suffering – Meaning” and “Happiness = Wanting What You Have/Having What You Want” (Which Chip presented at the prestigious TED conference) have been reviewed for mathematical and psychological accuracy by experts. Conley shows how to solve them through life examples and stories of inspiring people and role models who have worked them through in their own lives. In these turbulent times, when so many are trying to become “superhuman” to deal with our own and the world’s problems, Emotional Equations arms readers with effective formulas for becoming super human beings.

So it all seems not quite so daft as one might initially guess.  Indeed, settle down for twenty minutes and watch Chip eloquently explain his ideas captured at that TED Conference referred to above.

There’s also an audio conversation with Mr. Conley that you can download free from here.

Finally, let me close with yet another quote from Rene Descartes, “It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.” Amen to that!

12 thoughts on “Happiness = Ten minus five or thereabouts!

  1. Maslow — measuring intangibles — Bhutan / gross national happiness —

    I’m glad I took the twenty minutes you urged me to. They definitely counted. Especially the last five — the ‘Good Vibrations‘ main feature 🙂


  2. If anxiety = uncertainty x powerlessness
    does it follow that:
    Powerlessness = anxiety/uncertainty?
    Quite possibly, but…

    If Joy = Love – Fear
    this appears to imply that:
    Love = Joy + Fear
    Fear = Love – Joy…

    Meanwhile, always bear in mind that:
    Ecocide = (Humans + Greed + Time) – Wisdom
    Sarcasm = Wit – Intelligence.


    1. Good point, Martin!
      Those equations, as they are, do not make much sense, beyond a point, because human beings do not just look what there is, but they also perceive what could be. Call that an inner perception.
      Up to 90% of circuitry towards some perception areas of the brain is from so called “re-entrant circuitry”. So to speak of re-entrant perception is of the essence.

      Descartes would have been deeper if he had said:”I think, therefore I feel”.

      Expectations are everything… To some people. That may be why the French are so pessimistic: they have a long memory, and, historically speaking it starts to smell that same old rotten smell…

      Even conventional (rather stupid) economics involve expectations. Such as inflation expectation.

      Proper equations would involve a series development, with renormalization from perception and expectation. A bit like Quantum Field Theory.


      1. I could not resist playing around with the equations to get some ludicrous results but, I would not want people to think I am mocking the entire concept of emotional intelligence – far from it….


    1. Thanks PS,

      Yes had seen it; someone else sent me the link. As you say, it’s incredibly revealing, from many aspects. Wish I could find an easy way of inserting it in a post – would love to write about it.


      1. Go to the site and use the scroll bar to get it to the section where you want it to be then press the “PrtScn” function button on the top of your keyboard.

        Then open “Paintbrush” … Click on “Edit” and paste it in as a picture…..Save it and add it to your post.

        Compliments of a Programmer, you now owe me a German Shepard puppy, please send by registered mail. 🙂


      2. Oh, a big thank you for that. Much appreciated and you will be mentioned in dispatches! With regard to the GSD puppy, plenty more where Cleo came from – go on spoil yourself and come and collect one from here – accommodation happily provided, how many dogs do you like sleeping on your bed at night? 😉


      3. Usually only the chihuahua but sometimes the Jack Russel sneaks in when we’re asleep. I also have 7 cats and two of them are impossible to remove from the end of the bed at night. Could be worse, “Hey” is a Donkey sized Australian Kelpie, when he jumps in bed he throws all of us out of it. 😦



      4. Crikey, I lived in New York for a while when I worked for Lehman Bros. If I go back they’ll jail me for that tiny little mistake I made when I placed a coma too far to the left in the expenses sheet for the junk bond market … Ooops!

        T’was only a 10 Trillion Dollar difference, can’t understand why they are so angry with me, it’s just a few nickels and pennies. 😦

        But seriously … I sent my son and his girlfriend to Los Angeles 3 years ago, he made it as far as the airport, when they found out his daddy was a South American ( I was born in Montevideo) they turned him around and sent him straight back, they had just arrived from 3 weeks in Mexico. Homeland Security sucks, they never returned his airfare and they took the bottle of mescal he was bringing me. 😦


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.