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How to Calculate Your Net Happiness

net happinessWe’re all familiar with the concept of net worth. The process for calculating your net worth is simple:

  • First, you make a list of all of your assets (basically, everything you own). You add them up, and the number that you’re left with is your total assets.
  • Then, you do the same thing for your liabilities. Make a list of all of your liabilities (everything you owe), add them up, and that gives you your total liabilities.
  • Now take your total assets and subtract from that your total liabilities. The resulting number is your net worth.

People have a tendency to put a lot of emphasis on their net worth. However, your net worth represents only a fraction of your well-being. You can get a more accurate picture of the quality of your life by calculating your net happiness.

I got the idea for calculating your net happiness when I came across the term “Gross National Happiness”. This term was first expressed by the former king of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The term is rooted in the Buddhist notion that the ultimate purpose of life is inner happiness.

King Wangchuck argued that economic growth does not necessarily lead to contentment. Therefore, instead of merely focusing on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he focused on the four pillars of Gross National Happiness: economic self-reliance, a pristine environment, the preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture, and good governance in the form of a democracy.

Follow Bhutan’s lead: instead of simply calculating your net worth, start calculating your net happiness. In this post you’ll discover three ways or methods to do this:

  • Create a Happiness Index
  • Create a Happiness Time Log
  • Create a Happiness Balance Sheet

There’s more on these three methods for calculating your net happiness, below.

Create A Happiness Index

In 2006, Med Jones, the President of International Institute of Management, proposed an index that treats happiness as a socioeconomic metric. The metric measures socioeconomic development by tracking seven development areas, including a nation’s mental and emotional health.

Gross National Happiness is proposed to be an index function of the total average per capita of the following measures (taken from Wikipedia):

  • Economic Wellness: Indicated via measurement of economic metrics such as consumer debt, average income to consumer price index ratio, and income distribution.
  • Environmental Wellness: Indicated via measurement of environmental metrics such as pollution, noise and traffic.
  • Physical Wellness: Indicated via measurement of physical health metrics such as severe illnesses.
  • Mental Wellness: Indicated via measurement of mental health metrics such as usage of antidepressants.
  • Workplace Wellness: Indicated via measurement of labor metrics such as jobless claims, job change, workplace complaints and lawsuits.
  • Social Wellness: Indicated via measurement of social metrics such as discrimination, safety, divorce rates, complaints of domestic conflicts and family lawsuits, public lawsuits, and crime rates.
  • Political Wellness: Indicated via measurement of political metrics such as the quality of local democracy, individual freedom, and foreign conflicts.

Your personal happiness index could be something like the following:

  • Your Economic Well-Being: Your net-worth would come into play as one of the factors to consider in order to calculate your net happiness.
  • Your Living Conditions: Are you happy with the city you’re living in? Are you happy in your neighborhood? How do you feel about your current home?
  • Your Physical Wellness: Are you healthy? Are you overweight? Do you have high or low levels of energy?
  • Your Mental Wellness: Are you depressed? Do you feel angry or fearful? Do you feel joy? Do you feel inner happiness?
  • Your Job Satisfaction: Do you enjoy your work? Do you find your work to be meaningful? Are you happy with your boss and your co-workers?
  • Your Social Wellness: Do you have a good relationship with your significant other? Do you get along with your family? Do you have friends you can count on?
  • Your Community Wellness: Do you contribute to charities? Do you participate in volunteer work? Do you belong to any organizations that aim to improve the lives of others?
  • Your Spiritual Wellness: Do you feel a connection to something larger than yourself? Are you at peace?

Your happiness index can include any measurements which you consider to be important.

Create a Happiness Time Log

Another method you can use to measure your net happiness is to keep track of how you’re using your time, and how you feel while performing each of your daily activities.  Create a table with the following three columns:

  • Activity;
  • Amount of time spent on the activity; and
  • How you feel while performing the activity.

Then, add up how much time you spend doing things you enjoy, and add up how much time you spend doing things that you dislike doing. Just like when calculating your net worth, subtract one total from the other, and that gives you your net happiness.

Create A Happiness Balance Sheet

The third method that you can use in order to calculate your net happiness is to create a happiness balance sheet. Get a piece of paper and create two columns by folding the paper in half. Label the columns as follows:

  • Things I’m Happy About
  • Things I’m Unhappy About

Under the first column, list all of the things in your life that you’re currently happy about. Then, under the second column, list all of the things that you’re currently unhappy about. In addition, you’re going to assign a weight to each item on the list. That is, from 1 to 5, how important is the item that you wrote down, or how much of an impact does it have on your life.

For example, in the “Things I’m Happy About” column, you might  write down something like the following:

  • “I have a clean, organized, comfortable home”. If this is very important to you, you would give it a weight of “5”.
  • “I received a bonus at work”. You might give this a weight of “3”.
  • “My relationship with my sister has improved.” You might give this a weight of “4”.

Therefore, the total for the “Things I’m Happy About” column is “12”. In the “Things I’m Unhappy About” column, you might write down things such as the following:

  • “I keep getting calls from my child’s school saying that he’s misbehaving.” If the problem has gotten to the point where your kid might get expelled, you would probably give this item a weight of “5”.
  • “My car keeps stalling in the mornings.” You might give this item a weight of “2”.
  • “I keep getting passed over for a promotion.” You might want to give this a weight of “4”.

The total for the “Things I’m Unhappy About” column would therefore be “11”. Your net happiness would then be “1” (12 – 11 = 1).


Of course, once you’ve calculated your net happiness you can start planning how to raise it. For example, ask yourself how you can spend less time doing things that you don’t enjoy doing. In addition, ask yourself how can you fix or lessen the impact of the things that you’re unhappy about. Live your best life by calculating your net happiness, and then doing everything that you can in order to increase it.

Related Posts:

1. Three Happiness Tips From Eckhart Tolle
2. 37 Happiness Tips and Snidbits
3. The Art of Mindful Living
4. 37 Tidbits of Higher Consciousness

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mitch Mitchell March 30, 2013, 10:49 pm

    I love this post but I have to admit that net worth thing is a major deal. It offers comfort so that one can concentrate on everything else. Luckily, it’s not everything, but it’s quite substantial.

  • Marelisa March 30, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Hi Mitch: Money is definitely important. It’s hard to be happy if you’re worried about not being able to pay your rent or put food on the table.

    However, once your basic needs are met, more money doesn’t have much of an impact on happiness. For example, if you have a job that pays very well, but you hate it, you’ll probably be miserable. You also have to be careful not to sacrifice your health or your relationships for money.

    So money is definitely a part of the happiness equation, but it’s not the whole picture, by a long shot.

  • Listening Rob April 24, 2013, 6:41 pm

    I am always so inspired by your in-depth posts. This one is no exception. Thank you. Rob