Academic journal article et Cetera

The Happiness Formula

Academic journal article et Cetera

The Happiness Formula

Article excerpt

THIS COMPLEX OF higher-order abstractions we call general semantics is reflected in a set of high low-order abstractions we shall call attitudes. One such attitude vigorously endorsed by Alfred Korzybski is found in his "formula" for happiness: H = I/E, or, as modified by Irving J. Lee, H = M/E. This is a compact way of saying that we ought to keep our expectations of achieving a goal low and our motivation for working to achieve it high. Korzybski argued that since our knowledge of anything is always limited, and that since the future is an uncertain inference, the proper attitude reflecting this state of affairs is one of keeping the expectations low.

When we keep our expectations high we are not prepared for their not being fulfilled, which, in the light of our limited knowledge and the infinite complexity of the world, is much more likely than the fulfillment of our expectations. Consequently a person with chronically high expectations is a chronically disappointed man. He is likely to become a victim of Wendell Johnson's IFD disease - he moves from Idealism to Frustration to Demoralization. On the other hand, if we keep our expectations low, we have a map that fits the territory. Whatever happens is likely to be better than we expected. Therefore life becomes a series of successes and no matter how minor many of them may be we are much more likely to be happy with this attitude than the other.

There are those who claim that unless we have high expectations of succeeding in a task, we cannot work hard at it, cannot have high motivation. …

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