In my last post, Reverse Engineering Happiness (Part 1), I asserted a disbelief in a universal formula for happiness, applicable to every person in every circumstance. Rather, I proposed a belief that a purposeful life produces happiness and as a result the formula for happiness is best derived uniquely.
I recommended that we, as individuals, reverse engineer our happiness.
Almost everything can be reverse engineered. Reverse engineering can be viewed as the process of analyzing a system by identifying the system’s components and their interrelationships. If we are to reverse engineer happiness, then we need to identify and analyze the components of happiness and their interrelationships. This is where the mere concept of happiness gets convoluted. Happiness can have a variety meanings for different people and during different seasons of life.
I find an analogy helpful in understanding the concept of happiness and how it relates to the essential components that produce it. Consider an automobile.
An automobile is manufactured from thousands of components for the purpose of motion – it can be slow or fast; powerful or quick; agile or comfortable. However, the car’s purpose is to move from Point A to Point B, whatever those Points might be. Often, a car will be specifically designed for a unique route of motion.
A drag race car is designed to go really fast in a straight line;
just don’t expect it to win a stock car race.
A stock car is designed to go really fast in circles;
just don’t expect it to win an off-road race.
A rock crawler is designed to go really fast (relatively)
up a steep pile of rocks;
just don’t expect it to win a pulling competition.
A truck puller is designed to go really fast
in a straight line with a lot of weight;
just don’t expect it to win a drag race.
And then there is the mini-van.
It is designed to get around town with the an entire family
as fast (relatively) as possible;
just don’t expect it to win any race
(unless you have the mini-van in this video).
Each vehicle will complete its prescribed course at a designed speed through the interrelation of the power source (engine) and drivetrain/body (the rest of the car). All of these vehicles will fail to move if either of these components are missing. However, the degree of movement is dependent upon how well these components come together. It is possible for each vehicle to achieve 100% of its design speed if all the components work efficiently together. Yet, its speed is dependent upon how it was designed to get from Point A to Point B. If the original design for any of those components is compromised, then the design speed will suffer.
I like to think of happiness as similar to a car’s designed speed for a specific course. Our happiness is depended upon the interrelation of our minds (the engine) and physical bodies (the rest of the car). However, just like speed is not the purpose of a car, happiness is not the purpose of our lives. Happiness is a relative quality achieved when we are living out the purpose of our lives to our created abilities. It is the sensation of relative speed – the percentage of achieving our design speed; it is the result of all the components of our lives, mind and body, coming together to fulfill our purpose – what we were designed to do.
In reverse engineering happiness, I believe that the components most helpful to analyze are the following:
We will fail to experience happiness
if any of these components are missing or malfunctioning.
This is why I don’t believe that happiness can be formulaic. These essential components for happiness and their interrelationships will be wonderfully unique for each individual. My designed happiness will be different from yours.
The course of my life is different than yours.
The abilities of my body are different than yours.
The capabilities of my mind are different than yours.
I believe that when we get these components working in accordance to their unique design then the happiness that we all desire will simply result – will experience our created speed. We can achieve happiness without it ever being the goal.
While I don’t think that happiness is formulaic, I will make some suggestions in the following posts regarding how to analyze the components and interrelationships of purpose, body, and mind.