Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happiness and Power

If a person’s “happiness” is mathematically modeled as the ratio of the current distance from the farthest extreme to the distance of the person’s comfort zone to the farthest extreme, then happiness ends up being almost linearly related to what I’ve been calling “adjusted power,” which combines power and perception. The minimum happiness, corresponding to no power and a totally inaccurate perception of direction and distance to one’s comfort zone, is 30 percent (in my sample of 44 countries, the minimum is 33 percent).

Ranked in terms of decreasing adjusted power, the top ten countries are Denmark (at 83 percent), Colombia, Finland, Australia, Mexico, Ireland, Norway, Canada, Netherlands, and the United States (at 72 percent). At the bottom of the list of 44 is Zimbabwe, at 5 percent.

In the United States, if we each had full power over our lives (we could reach our comfort zone in a given unit of time), our “intelligence” (perception of distance and direction) would range from a negative 20 percent to a positive 100 percent. That is, some of us would perceive our target in the wrong direction and only 20 percent of its correct distance away. For comparison, only those populations with both adjusted power and happiness values of 75 percent or greater (corresponding to the top nine countries in my sample) would have an accurate perception of direction.

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