The algebra of happiness

Published: September 24, 2011

Happiness is possible and can be found.

We spend the greater  part of our lives calculating, constructing, accumulating and chasing our perceived parameters of happiness.

Such parameters are usually the rational outcome of pre-established formulas and algebraic equations that have been fed to our brains by the more accomplished happiness seekers and by our interdependent social structures. Interestingly, the recognized achievers of this unparalleled feeling have also constructed their algebra based on collective judgment and the common societal beliefs.

Under the simplest of formula, we are told that happiness is the derivative of good education, followed by a great job, tons of wealth, a happy family life and then heaps of happiness. Another school of thought would term a great love life, an abundant supply of good friends, and the license to chill as the winning combination.

Self actualization perspective, however, wealth and career can only get us short term delight whereas true happiness only comes when we devote ourselves to larger goals and more meaningful matters in life. The explorer’s perspective, on the other hand, values travel around the globe to discover new horizons of fun and entertainment, as the ultimate form of bliss.

While all these theories have worked well for different people at different times, none of them worked as a result of a conscious attempt to follow such routes. All our pre-conceived notions about where and how to find happiness are only true at one level; happiness is possible and that it can be found, but the planning of this quest is not possible at all.

I look around and see people who have lost everything they had in life; they have lost all the perceived constituents of happiness at the hands of nature, at the hands of other people, and at the hands of the fierce competition for more and more happiness. Such people are deprived of things like wealth, love, careers, achievements, family, travel, health and a lot more. Yet, the only thing they are not deprived of is happiness as their hearts have achieved liberation – they have been gifted with eternal fulfillment.

Perhaps, happiness is one of those things in life which cannot be planned, which is not derived or accomplished, but which is gifted to our hearts and which perhaps always lives there without declaring its subsistence. Happiness is not interdependendent on anything else. Perhaps, the only formula in the algebra of happiness is that there is no formula; the formula for happiness does not exist.


Umair Masoom

A marketing communication professional with an extremely positive outlook to life and a commitment to enhancement of the social systems within Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.