Health & wellbeing

A formula for happiness?

- March 21, 2010 2 MIN READ

A survey on the topic has summarised its results as the AIR Equation. Sounds like an ‘80s band, I know, but the survey says happiness equals 50% Acceptance, 28% Inspiration and 22% Respect. Apparently peace and love scored too low to be included.

I dislike the idea you can express something so complex via a headline-oriented, soundbyte-style formula, but being a sucker for soundbytes, I’ve decided to explore the results further.

I can see how acceptance, inspiration and respect – from others and of yourself – are key ingredients in happiness. But I question how acceptance can make up half of the happiness pie. Doesn’t an excess of acceptance stymie personal growth? Make you a pushover? Could you even call it an enemy of creative thought?

Further pondering on this has led me to believe inspiration and respect balance out the dangers of being too accepting.

Here’s what each of three notions mean to me.

I believe acceptance is most evident amongst the tolerant, empathetic and patient. All these qualities are associated with inner strength, yet none are really celebrated in a society focused on ambition and acquisition.

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For inspiration to flourish, you need to express yourself creatively, preferably professionally. You need opportunities to elevate and be elevated, encourage and be encouraged. It fares best amongst optimistic and forward looking types.

Meanwhile, respect requires an attitude of gratitude and courtesy. Respect adds joy to your career and relationships. Indeed without it, both are in big trouble.

I reckon soloists are in an ideal position to cultivate each of these qualities. Acceptance helps us acknowledge that there’s no hiding from how we’re squarely responsible for our successes and failures. Our businesses thrive on ideas and inspiration. That we are dancing to our own tune commands respect.

Seriously, if we can’t do it, no-one can.

Accepting the limitations of the survey’s pithiniess, what are your thoughts on the results? What qualities do you think they’ve missed out? Share your thoughts on the formula for happiness below.