I had the opportunity to meet my cousin Julius when I was a very young child. My parents took us on a trip to Toronto to meet him, his wife, and two daughters–one of whom was about my age, the other a few years younger. I never forgot that trip. It was a very special time for me. I may have only seen Julius a few times after that, and he passed away just a little more than a year ago.
Julius was an engineer, a polyglot, a teller of subversive, ribald jokes, an avid reader, and maintained a decades’ long correspondence with friends and family across the globe, including my father and, for a time, directly with me via email. I always knew it was him when I saw “Rogers’ in the email headers. He was the only Canadian I received emails from at the time, and Rogers was a Canadian based internet service provider (ISP). I assume it still is.
Years ago, when Julius and I were in touch via email, he was on my list. This was before blogs and newsletter applications like MailChimp. I used to send emails to whomever would read them. Clients, family, and friends. Most of them were about what I was up to at work, some were more personal. Julius would get them and I believe he read every single one. Now and then he would respond with his thoughts and comments. There was one reply he sent that I saved, and that is what I want to share with you.
The Formula For Happiness (I figure my engineer friends out there will love this)
I’ll let him tell it to you – short and sweet, but powerful. I didn’t save the email he was responding to, so I have no recollection of that now. It wasn’t important to me.
Your latest message tells a few personal things which I read with pleasure. Your usual mail contains mainly business information which does not interest me because we are retirees and live on our pensions which are small but enough to allow us an acceptable lifestyle. As everybody, we have, on one hand, desires, which I call D, and on the other hand possibilities to satisfy them, which I call P. To be happy, requires that:
P-D ≥ 0
In order to stay happy we tailored D to a level to be smaller than P. Another way would be to strive to increase the P of the equation, which we don’t like to do.