The Secret of Happiness

So, it may be a little later than some of my fellow coaches, but I’ve just discovered the secret of happiness…

Here it comes…

Happiness = P (5xE) (3xH)

There you go…

What, you want some further explanation?


Well, in this formula devised by Cohen (2003)..

Happiness is a result of:

P (personal traits) — outlook, attitudes, personal resilience

E (existence) — the things the individual does to keep themselves fit, well and healthy

H (higher order needs) — self-esteem, ambitions, sense of humour

Now it would be easy to dismiss this as frivolous nonsense, but it is based upon some sound psychological and behavioural research. Happiness is, after all, an emotion and like the wide range of emotions we are capable of feeling it is transient. More importantly ‘being happy’ is something that many many people desire or see as focus — a goal or personal ambition.

In some ways, perhaps, the wish to be in a constant state of happiness is neither desirable nor healthy.

Think about it for a moment.

If we cannot distinguish between a range of emotions how will we know WHEN we are happy, or for that matter sad, depressed, lonely? Perhaps emotionality, as perceived by human beings, is about the shades of emotional feeling; the subtle differences between differing emotional states.

Some drugs can keep you in an artificially emotionally neutral state, but does that lead to creativity, to inspiration, to connection with others at a deeper level?

Science-Fiction writers have explored the possible levels of social and political control that come from maintaining an emotionally neutral population. Is this really something we want.

Having said that, and with the wisdom that comes from Gene Rodenberry (the creator of Star Trek), George Orwell, Aldus Huxley, we can outline 7 key steps to personal happiness. Some of these steps may take a little more work than others and that’s where you might find some kind of external support useful.

1) KNOW your emotional state, recognise when it changes and what factors influence it. How you feel now is not necessarily the way you felt yesterday, nor the way you will feel tomorrow. Celebrate the cycles of your emotions.

2) HAVE ambitions, goals, dreams which motivate and inspire. Future-Histories that you can invest in, move towards and revel in. Set both achievable and awesome targets. The first will move you forward along a pre-defined path. The second will drive you to be something more than you can currently conceive.

3) RELATE creatively, collaboratively and emotionally with others. Keep those who inspire and move you, close and let those who depress and control you drift away. People come into your life and they leave your life. Some will affect you greatly. Be aware of how you feel in each relationship and explore where each can take you.

4) SHARE your dreams and ambitions; your desires and your goals with those whom you have strong, intimate friendships and partnerships. Listen to their dreams and ambitions. Many powerful relationships fail because of a lack of meaningful communication.

5) RECOGNISE that whilst your work may not make you happy, it can support you in being happy. A few fortunate individuals can earn a living doing what they love. If you can achieve that then work towards it. If not recognise that what you do does not need to define YOU but you can define how YOU relate to it. Remember the idea that we work to live rather than live to work.

6) KNOW that you can make a choice in every situation. Recognise and respect the choices you make and take an active role in your own life. Even when you think you have NO CHOICE consider what it is that causes you to feel that way and decide whether or not you are using the ‘no choice-blame’ thing as an excuse.

Know that there’s no idealism about this and there is no way any accusation of ‘laziness’ aimed at individuals who are locked into a situation from which there appears to be no escape. If you feel you are one of these people, then seek some external support to help you ‘take back’ your personal power — to recognise those aspects of your own life over which you can have choice.

7) BE PRESENT, BE YOU, BE NOW. Respect yourself and your abilities. Find ways to reward your achievements, celebrate your relationships and honour your choices. Develop your emotional literacy, your intellect, your physical health and explore whatever spiritual, metaphysical path completes you.

The thing about happiness is that it is not necessarily a state of future attainment, but a state of doing. As the Dali Lama suggests, we become happy by doing happy.

Three things you can start doing TODAY!

In my book The Secret to Your Future History, one of the key steps is about doing Happiness, and there are some very practical and psychologically supported habits you can develop as part of ‘doing happiness’.

  1. Keep a daily gratitude list, which could evolve into a Gratitude Journal.
  2. In terms of ‘retail therapy’ buy experiences not things. Experiences, especially shared experiences, create internal resources for developing resilience.
  3. Practice Random Acts of Kindness since they generate a ‘feel good factor’ and a sense of self-worth.

Alan /|\

Developed from an original artilce Article



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Dr Alan Jones PhD FRSA

Dr Alan Jones PhD FRSA


Writing about personal development, the mind and future histories. New articles every Monday. Website :