The Happiness Ontogeny

by Frank Cotolo


Money doesn’t buy happiness. Grandparents and gurus have said this through the ages. But who listened? Not me.

A friend of mine once said, “People don’t take this happiness stuff seriously. They think it’s poor conversation.” That afternoon he purchased an Audi Q5 3.2 Premium Plus, which included a 3.2L V-6 270HP engine, six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, automatic air conditioning, 19-inch aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, among the features. This costly coupe made him very happy. I understood that, since I was happier than I had been in years just to be a passenger in it.

If the adage is true and money does little or nothing to make people happy, what works better to provide a stream of elation? A recent study suggested having sex could be just as satisfying as earning money. The study revealed that boosting the frequency of sex from once a month to once a week brings as much happiness as an extra $50,000 a year. Using that formula, I calculated what it would take to make me happy.

In a 52-week year, I figured I could be satisfied to the tune of $260,000 if I had sex five times a week. That being true, I could feel like a millionaire if I had sex 20 times a week because that rate would be equal to making $1,040,000 annually.

After I thought it over, I realized that I could amortize by having group sex. Instead of having sex 20 times a week, I could have it 20 times with multiple partners in one or two sessions in a weekend. This would earn me extra time during the weekdays to ponder my million-dollar-like happiness and do other things, like my laundry. Happiness enthusiasts emphasize they could harness the power of happiness even without adding sex to the equation. This is a globally recognized claim, though it could never be as popular as my group-sex plan.

Bhutan, a small Buddhist nation in the Himalayas, plans to introduce an array of “happiness indicators” into its lifestyle through diet in order to harness the power of happiness. So far, though, more than half of the nation’s population has made plans to move to Scandinavia.

Chinese restaurants around the world are promising to make gems of happy inspiration exclusive in fortune cookies, even though there is an increasing international demand that more happiness can be obtained if the cookie itself tasted better.

Skeptics question whether any of these suggestions are going to genuinely ignite happiness. “That’s why we are skeptics,” said one skeptic. “If we believed anything would work, would that be skeptical? I don’t think so.”

The study of happiness also attracts neuroscientists, sociologists and members of the road company of Jersey Boys.

Economists sometimes collaborate but psychologists believe that happiness without money is something solely for “our patients.” But other members of academia wonder if this is any stimulus at all for happiness in modern times.

“I think whoever coined the term ‘dismal’ was an unhappy person,” said Nick Papakonstantinou, a prominent psychologist whose name is yet to be pronounced correctly by anyone.
Papakonstantinou’s quote gave me great pause. The pause was so profound that I fell into a deep depression over the next month. It became so serious that when someone stole my identity over the internet they returned it within 24 hours.


An excerpt from The Happiness Ontogeny.
Read the full article in Fourculture’s issue one.


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