May 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

« Oh Deer | Main | The Meaning of Meaning »



Turn it into a computer program instead of a book. Have a website that people have to pay to access (and make the formula a little bit more complicated... throw in a couple of harmonic means and other random statistical things). People can input detailed information on their lifestyle (i.e. one question can be "approximately how much money goes into your IRA fund?") and their responses can all go into your formula. At the end, the system tells them a variety of information, including how to improve their life, what they're doing right, how to make more money, etc.

Send me an email and I'll even build the website for you...

I'm sure there's a reason why it wouldn't work... but I can't figure out what that reason is.


The simple algebraic formulas for happiness are similar to the process of acquiring an easy Harvard MBA. What business students learn there after two very expensive years of intense study is, “Find a product or service that others want, buy it or provide it as cheaply as possible and sell it for more than you paid for it.” End of curriculum. Email me and I will issue your diploma for free.

Jay Walker

You say brevity is not rewarded, yet I believe that The Man Who Planted Trees has been richly rewarded for the relatively few pages, and the enduring importance of this book.

The problem I see with most books, is the authors (perhaps at the encouragement/demands of the publisher) usually take what can be tackled in 60 to 120 pages, and treble that amount. However, the extra volume doesn't provide much additional benefit (and in fact, maybe takes away from the readability and key messages of most non-fiction books).

Perhaps in this time-stretched age, the rise of the novella and its' non-fiction equivalent will occur.

Until then, thanks particularly for your humor.

Jay Walker
The Confused Capitalist


When's the book coming out? I want one..

Angus Lander

"Sleep technique = ... no booze and caffeine."

There have been studies indicating that teetotalers generally make less money and have fewer friends than those who imbibe. (This doesn't contradict anything you wrote, it's just a fun fact.)


seriously, please write that book--make it an ebook, or just an online doc, but write it !



Great post, and while you may not want to write it and release it as an actual 'book'. How about as a free download, like Gods Debris...

And maybe some international versions, as I've no idea what a 401K is! (England doesn't have that!)

Just an idea...

Gee Dubya


I like how you have not explained or defined the terms of your formula in the degree that you state you can, and yet many readers here are already arguing with what they assume you mean. You have pointed out this phenomena to your readers many times in the past, and yet it persisits. This leads me to asks the question, for which I expect a large government grant to research the answer, What percentage of the world's intelligentsia is stupid?


Please write it.

Time and again, single blog entries of yours have affected my life more than most books. I would buy it (even if you overcharged ridiculously to compensate for small numbers of customers) and read it, and memorise it, and it would be my ultimate Guide to Life. Kind of like the Bible for religious folk, but with less smiting.



I am surprised that so many of the readers of this blog have embraced the idea that happiness can be reduced to a formula.

Readers, aren't you all the same people who were offended by the suggestion that you might just be a moist robot?

Scott, aren't you the same guy who asserted on this blog that you are happy 90% of the time, regardless of what is happening in your life?

And don't you find it the least bit worrying that there is so little agreement on the variables and calculation of the Happiness Formula?

I guess it just goes to show that people love to try to control their environment through distillation and reduction of its observable components.


I'm astonished that meaning is so low. But then, since you trifle with meaning, that would be true to form.

If you could write such a book in 20 pages, surely with a little of the milk of human kindness, you would do so as a gift to the world.

If that doesn't strike you as a good idea, that's because you are a heartless commercial bastard dancing to the whim of your capitalist soul-destroying masters. Be honest - you wouldn't lift a finger to help anyone unless you got paid for it, would you?

LA Clay

You said this already about 4 months ago.


Formulae not Formulas.

Richard Franks

Add: TheDeviousPlot - everyone has ideas that "would change the world" involving circumstances which are always just out of reach. Nevertheless, people enjoy thinking about making positive change even if they lack the means.


I agree that money would contribute a great deal to my happines, of course, health and sleep too, but for social life (outside a good family), i enjoy few friends, and not much more, by personal choice: just come from a big coastal city to a little one in the middle of mountains and you will hate the social life, but again, nothing enought money wouldnt fix by allowing me moving as i wish.


You could do another "God's Debris" type of thing, where you write it and release it in pdf.

*Chants* "Pee-Dee-efF! Pee-Dee-efF! Pee-Dee-efF!"

Neal Miskin

Just because everything you intend to say would amount to 20 pages, doesn't mean that you can't pad it out with a few hundered pages of filler. For example you could have a whole chapter about diet; entire books have been written about how to manage money and play the stock market, you could fill a chapter or two with that.

Just keep typing vaugely relavent stuff, the more long-winded the better, until you have enough for a book. Then send it off to your publisher.

Kevin Kunreuther

Twenty years ago, it would be a booklet you sold for $20 in the back of magazines. Today, you sell it as a DVD slide presenation a la Al Gore. If Al Gore can sell the idea of Global Warming on film, you can do the same thing. Sell it as a humourous visual presentation on PBS stations during pledge times. If you can expand your "20-page" booklet to an hour or hour and a half unboring presenation - bang! You'd be raking in ANOTHER source of income, be on tv magazine shows explaining your formula for a couple of weeks, then get bored and move on to next project or opportunity.
Your Welcome!

Morten Lode

Gore Vidal once said: "to succeed is not enough, others must fail", hence the major happiness formula is lacking the "happiness of other people" as a negative factor.

you'd what?!

why is meaning last?


A couple more points:
- Agreed the higher levels of the plan need to be expressed in more-generic terms if you're going to sell internationally (you can always give specific examples).
- Scott mentioned income before wealth, because you need income before you have the money to follow his investment plan.
- Agreed that Americans gave money to murdering IRA terrorist scum (I'm not sure who funded the murdering UDF terrorist scum); also to murdering dictators of many nations (eg Saddam in Iraq). Sorry guys, I know most of you are nice people on a personal level but as a nation you're weird. Scott: next we need a formula for America to follow to improve its relations with the rest of the world. This would include, for example, empathising with people of other nations and acting with integrity - eg not giving nuke technology to countries that haven't signed the non-proliferation treaty; putting road and carbon taxes on vehicle fuel to cut greenhouse gas emissions and help fund a more-efficient income tax structure; not subsidising inefficient, greenhouse-gas-intensive farming in the US at the expense of low-input pastoral and peasant farming around the world. And not funding the bad guys. Sorry. A bit far from the original point...

Burton MacKenZie

Scott - this should be made into an ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE program. Specifically, you have defined a subsumption architecture design. Somebody less lazy than me go implement it in a cool robot that shoots bees or something.

signed short classBrainSimulation::get_current_happiness()
signed short happiness = NOT_HAPPY;
if (SHOOTING_BEES == whatImDoingNow())
happiness = MAX_HAPPY;
//4. Profit!!
return happiness;

//GPL Burton MacKenzie 2007


A number of people haven't grasped what Scott means by priorities. Health has got to be the top priority: you simply can not physically be happy if you're really sick or dead. The second thing is not possible (or at least sustainable) without the first thing, etc. For non-monetised cultures, read "wealth/resources" for money.

No, Guillaume, he doesn't need a long book. Health is the top priority, so you don't breach the "health" rules for the sake of your social life more often than is consistent with good health. That doesn't mean you can't go out until 1am one or maybe two nights a week, but it probably means it's not smart to go out 5 nights a week and probably means you should catch up on that lost rest.

And no, Flint A, I don't think you could describe Phil Spector as "healthy". He himself has claimed to have bipolar disorder.

Hunter S Thompson? Must have had a pretty robust constitution, but he did die younger than most.

To make the book sell, just make it physically attractive - nice paper, size, shape, layout, illustrations, a few Dilbert cartoons, and bring it out just before Christmas - a great stocking-filler.


Publish the rough draft on this blog, and we'll help you beef it up. Of course, then you would have to give us all free copies.


The only relevant thing in life is Meaning. On a cosmic, macroscopic level, money and society have no real meaning, and your own existence is even irrelevant. The only thing that validates one's one existence is whatever gives their life meaning. You can be happy with your life if it has meaning, even if you're sick or poor or lonely. I know you don't need us to argue the priorities, but to put health and money first is to by into the idea that humans are somehow more important than anything else in the universe. I don't know if you're an existentialist or anything like that, but the only thing that can keep a person happy with their life is a meaning or purpose. I'm sure you, Scott, keep yourself happy through your family and your job, as well as your hobbies, like tennis or whatever you do. Those are the things that make you happy, and your health and income don't really affect you that much. You have your own health problems, like the spasmodic dysphonia, but that doesn't really affect your overall happiness, it's just a fact of existence that you learn to accept. And if your life has meaning, you can accept your own mortality. I don't want to sound like a philosophical preacher, but that's just my book on happiness. We can make competing 20 page books and you'll win because you've got a name.

The comments to this entry are closed.