The formula for happiness —not so complicated after all?

Thomas Arctaedius
5 min readFeb 2, 2021

The Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss defined happiness in a formula in his book Life’s Philosophy published 1999

Næss was 88 years old 1999 and writes in Life’s Philosophy that the well-being, W experienced by a person, is equal to the square of passion, P that we experience when we do something, divided by the sum of our sufferings S, bodily and mental sufferings. Since the passion is squared (P*P) in the formula a small increase in passion will make a big impact on well-being and low passion will give low well-being regardless of the level of suffering.

This means that Næss believes that a high degree of passion (or glow or fervour) creates well-being even if we experience suffering at the same time. If the passion is great, we know that we can withstand great stress both mentally and physically. If the passion and glow for doing a thing is high then we can withstand strain and suffering. Næss says “if we notice that something or other results in a more intense glow in our lives, we must take advantage of these circumstances.”

Næss believes that this ability is largely linked to age: “Many older people have a great ability to tackle problems head on and to see what is most important in life. Many young and middle-aged people realize this late because they do not take the time to seriously question their priorities. The decisive factor is not exactly what you spend your time on, the important thing is how you get involved, and what effort you put into it. The art of living is being able to do small things in a big way.

Published by kenward1904

Arne Næss was a very special person and philosopher. He was born 1912 in Oslo, Norway. When he was 27 years old he became the youngest person to be appointed full professor at the University of Oslo and the only professor of philosophy in the country at the time. He was also a noted mountaineer, who led the expedition that made the first ascent of Tirich Mir (7,708 m) in 1950.

Næss combined a ecological vision with non-violence and on several occasions participated in direct action events. He is maybe best known for his invention of the term…

Thomas Arctaedius

Professor in entrepreneurship, PhD in Nuclear Physics. Entrepreneur and researcher. From Stockholm Sweden