Calculating Happiness


I met someone the other day who told me about the concept of “hedonic calculus.”  I was intrigued. I knew that hedonic means pleasure, and I kind of got the gist. The hedonic calculus is a formula for measuring the amount of pleasure a specific action is likely to cause and it’s based on 7 criteria, including intensity (how strong is the happiness?) duration (how long does the happiness last?) and richness (how likely is this happiness to lead to further happiness?) 
I love learning about the mind and wondered, what if we looked at hedonic calculus another way and asked, “Is the pleasurable action going to help me or hurt me?” In other words, is it worth it? 
I think this is a great question to ask yourself—often! For example, ask yourself if that large slice of cake is worth finishing (it makes you happy now, but what about tomorrow?) Or, is the momentary satisfaction of lashing out at someone worth the inevitable drama it’s likely to cause?  
Of course, there are many times when doing something that makes you happy is absolutely worth it, such as taking a much-needed vacation, spending time with friends, or volunteering. The truth is, most instances of momentary happiness do not bring lasting joy unless they have meaning.  
Technique of the week: Make this the week to start practicing your “is it worth it?” mantra. Take a moment before diving into something that may seem pleasurable at that instance and calculate the happiness it may bring!

Melissa Garson