Rakesh Sarin, UCLA Anderson's Paine Chair in Management, considers himself an engineer. In his latest book, he and co-author Manel Baucels (Ph.D. '99 -- who earned his undergraduate degree in engineering from ETSEIB, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, now a professor at the Barcelona School of Management) set about quantifying happiness and sought to come up with a formula for it as well. Spoiler alert: That formula is Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations.
I had the privelege of interviewing Rakesh for an upcoming podcast about the book, which is titled "Engineering Happiness." It's a great read, aimed at everyone, and a wonderful addition to the literature on happiness and living life; I found some similarities between it and "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. There is a preview clip of our interview above.
My colleague Judy Lin, who writes for UCLA Today and other campus publications did a Q&A with Sarin, that was published last week. It's part of the faculty author series "10 Questions." Here's a highlight:
You define happiness mathematically, and you’ve invented "happydons" as a unit of measure. But can the complex state of happiness really be measured this way?
Being happy is all about making choices, and describing happiness mathematically helps us see this. We define happiness as the total sum, over time, of momentary emotions, feelings and states of mind. Moment-happiness — pain or pleasure in a particular moment — is very volatile, prone to outside influences and not a good measure. To truly get a sense of overall happiness, we need to measure the intensity and duration of moment-happiness over an extended period of time, similar to the way a seismogram measures ground motion over time.Stated simply, total happiness is the sum total of pleasures minus pains. Happydons, while they’re not really precise, are still a good unit of measure for all those "How are you feeling right now?" moments over time. Let’s say, using a 10-point scale for happydons, I’m having a good conversation: I’ll rate that as nine happydons. Later, I’m having a stressful time dealing with an agitating email — I’ll give that a five. Viewing your happiness like a 24-hour seismogram — the numbers above the midpoint of the graph and the numbers below — the question then becomes, "How can I improve the total sum of happiness? How can I increase the frequency and duration of the positive and reduce the negative?"
Professor Sarin is expected to deliver a "TED Talk" during Ted Week at UCLA Anderson.
You can ready all of Judy's interview with Rakesh Sarin here.
Please find "Engineering Happiness" on Amazon.com here.
Finally: I have an extra copy of Professor Sarin's book "Engineering Happiness." First person to watch the video above and leave a comment wins it. Remember to leave your contact info.