Is there a formula to a happy life?

I’m a literature and writing geek trapped inside a mathematicians brain. Though writing and reading are the things I most enjoy, I can’t seem to get past the mindset that makes me think of everything as an equation, or make the obsolete appear logical. (there you go- knowing thyself is the key to happiness)

Needless to say, I think there may be a mathematical concept that will define happiness. (if the past month has told us anything it’s that happiness definitely can’t be defined with words)

So what kind of math are we talking about? Fake statistics of course, as I have no scientific knowledge at all to back up what I’m about to say…

The least happy people I know are living there life in the good old days. Think fifties sitcom. People referred to elders as Mr. and Mrs., Aunt and Uncle even if there was no actual biological relationship. Adults married. Sunday dinner attendance at Grandma’s was a must. 2.5 children lived behind that white picket fence. These people just want to go back to when things were “normal”. When you want to live in a world that doesn’t exist anymore you can’t be happy.

The other set of past dwellers are the ones that can’t get over failed relationships. They might not have loved their ex, but they want that relationship status back. I also get being heartbroken if your partner passed- obviously it’s a devastating situation. But…if you spend every day sad at your loss, you will never move on.

You can’t turn back time. And for that reason, I say spend 10% of your time remembering the past. Memories are lovely, but don’t move in.

What does the future hold?

OK- no fooling. You need to have some preparation for the future. You need to put some money aside. You need to take care of your health. You need to figure out what you would like to do, like to be, and take the necessary steps towards achieving that goal. Even if your goal is to have a lemonade stand, you need to find a spot, make the stand, advertise, make the lemonade….Achieving things requires thought, practice, resources…The end result only comes after much hard work.

But- you can’t do everything solely to prep for the future. If you are always prepping and never taking the time to smell the roses, you will be burnt out and washed up. You will not be happy. So I’m thinking spend 25% of your time thinking and planning for the future.

35% of our time is now accounted for- which leaves us with (drumroll please)

65%

65% of out time should be focused on the present in order for us to be happy. Do your job or your homework to the best of your ability. Take care of your body physically and mentally. Nurture the relationships that are important to you. Do activities that you enjoy.  Make your home a place you enjoy being in. Spend time just being…

While we all agree that these are just made up percentages, the theory behind them is somewhat sound- you need to figure out what percentage of past, present and future makes you happy.

So- what’s the right percentage for you?

 

58 thoughts on “The Percent of Life

  1. My math would be in constant flux.. taking the tree down? 95% of thoughts devoted to the past. Jan 1st? 95% devoted to the future. Arguing with my husband? 50% devoted to everything he did wrong in the past and 50% focused on how I’m going to make him “pay” in the future..😉HA!

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  2. 10% seems about right for my past, maybe a bit less. I think it drops a bit each year that I am post-divorce. My future is bigger though, age and (again) the whole post-divorce thing play into planning and re-evaluation on a regular basis so maybe 35%, or even 40% sometimes. That leaves me about 50% here and now. I think I’m good with that!

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    1. It’s all a matter of thinking how much time you spend in each “area” and figure if it’s making you whole….adjust if necessary. It’s figuring out what works individually

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  3. I don’t know about measuring it in percentages (math is definitely not thing!) What I have learned though is that happiness comes with accepting that certain things in life are outside of my control and then focusing on all the blessings I do have. Maybe I’m a half glass full kind of optimist. The percentage of happiness I find is going to be the amount I make a point to give my attention to and the more I focus on all of the good, the less I even think about the bad.

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  4. Ooh! I think you’re close. I’d go with some sort of weighted percentage for future-thinking, just because I get very depressed living in my moment and not having a weighty enough life goal or purpose to look forward to.

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  5. Sounds like a winning formula to me. Reading about living in the past, I immediately thought about a guy I know who. is 50 years old and still pining for the glory days of his youth. He can’t keep a relationship and though he appears happy, is one of the saddest people I know. You just can’t live in the past. You have to be in the present. As an aside to that, I think sometimes I personally spend a little too much time in the future.

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  6. I’m not sure what the right percentage is. We are in the process of refining our retirement goals since Steve plans on retiring in about 7 years. I spend a lot of time planning and researching on that plus I spend a lot of time planning future trips so I would say my future planning is a focus currently. I also have recently dwelled on a certain past event and person but realized it and am force stopping my thinking!!! Present thinking is probably not up to where it should be but it is gradually getting there! Having been an ER Nurse for so many years it is hard to get out of flight or fight mode and also out of “if only” mode. Having time for me is a new luxury that I am still learning to appreciate and part of that needs to be learning how to embrace the present. Great post!! I guarantee I will be mindful of my
    Thinking over the next few days trying to figure out my percentages lol!!!

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      1. You know what I just read….lavender lotion in the soles of your feet before bed. I did it past two nights, and while I don’t have insomnia, I slept better. Don’t know if it’s placebo, but who cares

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      2. I’ve tried the lavender lotion. Did not do anything except make my feet soft and pleasantly scented. My Calm app does the trick most nights, but there are still times when the ghosts of past mistakes haunt me all night long on an endless loop.

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  7. I really think about 95% should be in the present; that’s all you really have anyway. Unless you’re thinking about the past for a specific reason (like I tend to do), I’m not sure what the reason would be to be thinking about it for. Also, I think planning for the future shouldn’t take longer than 5% of your overall time, unless it’s very elaborate.

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    1. It’s not so much time as much as maybe overall output. Like, if you had the option, would you spend all your money and not save anything, or eat junk food because you don’t care about health issues or healthy lifestyle.

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  8. Living intentionally (living in the moment) and doing things you love is at a high percentage for me. Planning, now this one is tough because I am a planner, but I can’t do things I love without planning for them. The future will come whether or not you plan or are even ready, so look before you leap, but make sure you leap.

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  9. Indeed, live the present moment. I do engage in a little past reflection, but don’t over dwell. And I need to make some future plans, for the immediate future anyway, the rest is too unpredictable.
    I came across one of those high school reunion pages once and the common sentiment being expressed was that their 4 years of high school were the best years of their life. And I thought, boy that’s sad.

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  10. I think these percentages will fluctuate over time due to ever changing circumstances. However, right now 20% past, 70% present, 10% future. I don’t think dwelling on the past too much is healthy but our past is where we learned some valuable life lessons. It’s good to reflect on what we learned and blessings we received from time to time. The future doesn’t take a lot to plan out. At least not for me but it does take effort. The present is where we find the most happiness and I think that needs to be broken down into categories that include mental health, physical health and spiritual health activities. That balance is needed to truly be happy. If we spent our entire present working day and night and not spending time with others or taking time to help others that imbalance could be detrimental to our happiness and our overall health. Spiritual activities are very important as well. Jesus himself said “happy is the man conscious of his spiritual need” (Matthew 5:3). Also Psalms 1:1,2 mentions happy is the man that reads God’s law everyday. At the end of the day balance is the key to happiness. Symmetry of activities that touch all aspects of life can create a positive outlook and fun experiences.

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    1. You’re right….we have to think about how to handle the present, which amount of our energy should be devoted to what…we’re always learning and growing…

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  11. I have been pondering some things like this. You had me a formula LOL. I think I would have to average it out but cannot give you the average now. I am heavy into reflection right now, studying the past for the future. So, my numbers would be slightly skewed as of now. I like your first stabs at %’s. Thanks for sharing.

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