Happiness formula: summer of happiness 2010 celebrated in free book
07/15/2010

The Institute of Subjective Well-Being releases a free eBook today, summarizing scientific research about happiness, how to measure and improve it. It describes several formulas for subjective well-being. ISWB also advocates why understanding happiness requires a paradigm shift (thinking in terms of degrees of appropriateness) and shows why SWB has strong implications for public policy and diplomacy.

Online PR News – 15-July-2010 – – VANCOUVER (Canada) - The Institute of Subjective Well-Being (http://www.iswb.org/) released today a free eBook titled "Happiness Formulas: How to assess our subjective well-being? How to live joyfully in the 21st century?". This guide to measure and improve happiness, offers an intuitive way to assess subjective well-being using Positive Psychology questionnaires. It also reviews benchmark of social happiness, like the Facebook Collective Happiness Index, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, and the Gross National Happiness introduced in Buthan.

The eBook also reviews AmAre Way (http://www.amareway.org/), a formula to measure happiness, and a way of living joyfully. AmAre is an acronym which stands for: Aware (being), Meditating, Active (being), Respectful (being), Eating properly. AmAre is an Italian word which means "to love", and in English it sounds like interconnectedness: (I) Am (we) Are.

"Happiness Formulas" eBook summarizes some of the main findings in recent research about subjective well-being, including:
- being happy is a choice we make right here and now, by living joyfully. It is not a place to reach in the future.
- there are ways to measure subjective well-being and thinking about what such formulas mean for us, is even more important than the numbers we get out of them.
- we get happier by making other people happier
- there are several "fringe" benefits to living joyfully, for example happier people are more sociable and energetic, more caring and cooperative, better liked by others, more likely to get married and stay married, to have wider social networks and receive support from friends, show more flexibility and creativity in their thinking, are more productive and work, are recognized as better leaders and negotiators, and so earn accordingly. They are more tenacious when times are not pleasant, have stronger immune systems, are healthier both physically and mentally, and live longer.

This Happiness eBook expresses the need to start a paradigm shift: in an analogical world, it was efficient to think digitally. That is, in a world without our current technological know-how, people preferred to reduce accuracy in favour of thinking in terms of right and wrong, discrete values, 0 or 1. In a digital world, it is effective to think analogically. That is, in a world where specialization is wide-spread and processing power easily available, people can improve accuracy and think in terms of degrees of appropriateness, with continuous values. Many debates are floating in the air, including the ones about SWB, where different schools of thought aim to prove they are totally right, and everyone else totally wrong. The paradigm shift is to think inclusively: given one opportunity to analyze, its values may tend towards one direction in a specific context, and towards another direction in another context. By pooling together our experiences and expertise, we can discuss which course of actions are more appropriate, or which outcomes more likely to occur, instead of thinking in terms of 0 or 1. It raises some additional points for consideration, including:

- free-will is a fact, if we are mindful
- SWB has strong implications for public policy and diplomacy
- the need for "multilevel happiness", because happiness is a shared joy and does not happen in a vacuum
- Happiness is a way of living
- we should consider the power of context
- we can change: Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis
- consciousness matters: being aware of awareness
- evolution explains a lot about our instincts
- meme explains a lot about our customs
- we need more resources to devote to longitudinal and latitudinal research about subjective well-being

"Happiness Formulas" also talks about SWB agents, objects and actions, which can be classified as hot, mild and cool. There are “agents”, “objects” and “actions” facilitating SWB: agents are the providers/producers/facilitators of a given SWB object; an object is the physical substance, or the approach/procedure, of a SWB action; an action is what is required by a person to embrace a SWB object. To make some examples: a meditation instructor, or a pharmaceutical company, are agents; a given approach to meditation, or a pill, are objects; the act of meditating, or taking/being given a pill, are actions. Agents are often subject to public policy; objects, to industry/regulatory agencies standards; actions, to the common sense of the person performing/receiving them.

“Agents”, “objects” and “actions” can be classified based on the different degrees of participation they require from the person who embraces (or is prescribed) them. “Hot” indicates an object which require little partecipationg from the person choosing it; it is usually a silver-bullet solution to address one specific issue, often appropriate in life-threating situation. Medicines are often “hot” objects. “Cool” indicates an object which require considerably greater partecipationg from the person choosing it; it is usually a holistic solution to address a wide range of aspects, often appropriate when immediate results are not the main goals. Improving one’s eating habits is an example of “cool” object. “Mild” indicates an object, or a bundle of objects, which require average partecipationg from the person choosing it; it usually brings a mix of immediate and long term results.

The Institute of Subjective Well-Being (http://www.iswb.org/) is a non-sectarian, non-political institute devoted to sharing both established and pioneering research in the field of subjective well-being, more commonly known as happiness. Subjective well-being is a suitable way to refer to happiness: subjective, because it is in the eyes’ of the beholder; well-being, because it is always in progress and not a place to reach and hold for good. Membership is free and open to researchers, meditators, philosophers and the public at large. ISWB publishes pamphlets and white-papers, freely available on their site; it also edits a newsletter for media experts who want to receive updates about developments in the field of subjective well-being.