Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has a blog on which he philosophizes and jokes. Recently he posted an interesting theory, some of which I will excerpt here:
I fantasize about writing a book called The Happiness Formula. The idea would be to create a simple formula for troubleshooting your life and improving your happiness. On page one would be this top formula.
Happiness = health + money + social life + meaning
The rest of the book would be nested formulas that further explain each component of happiness. For example…
Health = sleep + diet + exercise
And then down another level…
Sleep = schedule + technique
And down another level until it starts getting practical…
Sleep Technique = consistent bedtime and waking time + no reading or TV in bed + no booze or caffeine…
And so on.
To make the Happiness Formulas extra useful, the highest priorities would appear first (leftmost) in the formula. For example, in the top Happiness Formula (Happiness = health + money + social life + meaning), health is a higher priority than money, which is a higher priority than social life, etc.
This is a fascinating way to consider looking at your life. Of course it would be nice to be able to look at more, wouldn’t it? Later on, he says:
Part of the reason I don’t turn The Happiness Formula into a book is that it would only be about 20 pages long. Its power is in its brevity, and brevity is not rewarded in our economy. If the best book in the world was only 20 pages long, no one would buy it. They’d stand in Borders and read it cover to cover.
So I won’t be writing that book. Maybe it needs to be a wiki project.
And so now it is. Take a look, it’s pretty cool. I haven’t had enough time to consider all the ways to apply it to my own life, so maybe I’ll post a follow up sometime. If you enjoy Scott’s philosophizing, also check out the free PDF of his book God’s Debris.