The key to happiness is obviously a whole lot more complicated than "a+b=c", however, an equation that accurately forecasts the happiness of an individual may not as far-fetched an idea as one would assume.
In fact, the researchers at the University College London published "Equation to Predict Happiness", which claimed to have detected the happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide using a mathematical equation.
In the study, "A Computational and Neural Model of Momentary Subjective Well-being", published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers Robb B. Rutledgea, Nikolina Skandalia, Peter Dayanc and Raymond J. Dolan investigated the relationship between happiness and reward, and the neural processes that lead to feelings that are central to our conscious experience, such as happiness.
First, the researchers had 26 participants complete some decision making tasks, in which their choices either led to monetary gains or losses or used fMRI imaging to measure their brain activity.
The subjects were repeatedly asked about their state of happiness and based on the data gathered, they created a model that linked self-reported happiness to recent rewards and expectations.
The researchers tested their model and asked 18,420 people to play a smartphone game called The Great Brain Experiment for points and found that their equation was also accurate at predicting the gamers' happiness.
The implications of the existence of such an equation are boundless. Having a predictable standard for how people respond to the moment-to-moment gains and losses could actually help doctors understand the mood disorders easier by gauging the patient's reactions to various events and hopefully lead to more effective treatments.
While the formula is still too complicated for everyday application, there are some quick, simple scientifically-approved strategies for improving your happiness with no math involved:
Log off Facebook:
"Facebook use predicts declines in happiness", according to a study held by Univeristy of Michigan published in Science Daily. Facebook might help people feel connected, but it doesn't necessarily make them happier. "On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection," said U-M social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article, "but rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result -- it undermines it."
Focus on People, not Things:
A study held by Sahlgrenska Academy and Lund University suggests that a collective picture of what makes us happy is more about relationships, and less about things.
According to a study conducted as part of the research, words like "Prince Daniel", "Zlatan", "grandmother" and personal pronouns (such as you/me, us/them) often appear with the word happiness, whereas words like "iPhone", "millions" and "Google" almost never does.
"This doesn't mean that material things make you unhappy, just that they don't seem to come up in the same context as the word for happiness," says Danilo Garcia, researcher in psychology at the Sahlgrenska Academy's Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health.
Think two of your friends would make a great couple? Do not hesitate to set them up, for your happiness sake. According to "Matchmaking Promotes Happiness", a paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, studies show that chronic matchmaking is associated with higher well-being and that matching others on how well they will get along increases happiness and is highly rewarding intrinsically.
Doing good always feels good, but when a social element is added to the mix, the deed can be even more rewarding. A research featured in Science Daily "Social Giving Makes Us Happier", investigated how social connection helps to turn generous behaviour into positive feelings on the part of the donor.
"While additional factors other than social connection likely influence the happiness gained from pro-social spending our findings suggest that putting the social in pro-social is one way to transform good deeds into good feelings," researchers reveal.
Another systematic review and meta-analysis led by the University of Exeter Medical School also claimed that volunteering can improve mental health and help you live longer.
Get Some Shut-Eye:
According to a report published by the American Psychological Association, many people have built up a so-called "sleep debt" from long periods of inadequate snoozing.
Depriving oneself of a good night's sleep is linked to problems with both mood and relationships. Sleep is in fact the one shot remedy for memory troubles, lack of concentration, weak immune system and of course getting killed in accidents.
Even the knowledge of the existence of this free-of-cost treatment should make one "happier, healthier and safer".