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The Formula of Happiness

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This is a guest post by Tatjana Schmidt:

One day my friend shared stories about his life and asked questions about happiness. To be honest, I had never asked myself of which ingredients happiness is made of. I have always considered myself be happy except of a couple of days when my family was breaking apart…

My friend made me think.

I am a mathematical girl and started to create a formula for happiness. After a lot of thinking and a couple of sleepless nights I came up with this:

Happiness = (Love – Expectation) x Achievement + Fun

This means: It would be great if we could have a lot of love without any expectations, achieved our goals, and always have a lot of fun. The value should approach infinity!

I created this formula 2 years ago. I just thought that I am a very crazy woman because I tried to measure feelings. Can you imagine how I felt when I meet a person this year who told me that a researcher had created a formula of dissatisfaction! I am not as crazy as I thought :-)

Here is his formula:

Dissatisfaction = Expectation ÷ Achievement

This means:

  • If we have a lot of expectations and don’t achieve our goals, the value will be large -> we get a biggest dissatisfaction.
  • If our expectations are the same as what we achieve -> we are realistic.
  • If we don’t expect anything and have achieved a lot -> we are perfectly satisfied. Great!

The question I asked myself: Why did this researcher use the negative noun instead of using the positive, e.g. Satisfaction?

Immediately I found the answer: This winter in Moscow I meet my old Mathematics Professor at a party. He is a wonderful person who always challenged us when we were students. Often he said to us "Asks questions", "Question everything, because the Newton’s laws don’t work in the universe…" :-)) Before we said good-bye to each other, he said to me: "Ask me a question!", I thought a moment, and I asked him the stupid question: "Why can’t we divide by Zero?" But this question was not so stupid after all.

He gave me an equation with seven steps. Take a look:

  1. Put x = y (multiply both sides by x)
  2. Result: x2  = xy (subtract y2)
  3. Result: x2 – y2 = xy – y2 (factorize)
  4. Result: (x + y) (x – y) = y (x-y) (divide by (x – y)
  5. Result: x + y = y (substitute y for x in row 1)
  6. Result: 2y = y (divide by y)
  7. Result: 2 = 1 Perfect!

Try to find out which step is wrong. Good luck!

Step 4 is wrong because we divided by Zero. I think each of us will see a different answer to the question "why we cannot divide by Zero. I think that the result is absolutely absurd, division by Zero produced "garbage" and each of us could claim anything, for example I am the Queen of Universe :-)

Let’s come back to the formula…

If you have followed me, now we know why the researcher didn’t create the formula of satisfaction (positive noun), and created the formula of unsatisfaction (negative noun). Because the formula of satisfaction needs to be divided by "Expectation", and "Expectation" can never be Zero! But this is wrong. The nicest things happen without expectations. Believe me, not having any expectation is great!

Last week I realized that the stories my friend shared with me the other day already had all the ingredients of happiness in them and I felt I just borrowed them! I am so grateful to him. I am so happy to have such friends!

One more note. I think that happiness is mainly due to progress. Why is a baby so happy? Because every day he can learn something new. A little baby looks at people running and wants to learn too. Then he tries to get up and falls down again and again. But the baby is not discouraged, he never gives up and keeps trying. Eventually his face is full of joy because he managed to overcome a challenge. And so it goes from running to speaking. Again and again he overcomes a hurdle and is happier, the more he has learned something new. And I think life is all about these success moments. We are always looking for a new challenge to master it. As my friend says: "Take baby steps."

Special thanks to Gregg Stevens for helping me with English.

With love to the whole wonderful world,


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