PERRYSBURG — Dr. Alphonsus Obayuwana was working in a psychiatric ward with patients who had attempted to harm themselves when he came upon a life-changing formula for well being.
Obayuwana, then a third-year medical student, recognized something that became the basis for his “Mathematics of Happiness” classes and the book he is next sending to his publisher.
“People who are happy never commit suicide,” Obayuwana said.
As a medical doctor he decided to find a prescription to take care of the problem. He settled on one that was not chemical, but behavioral. Expanding further he made it universal and based on math.
The formula is simple.
Hope divided by hunger equals happiness. He defines hope as “a feeling and a belief that all will be well,” hunger as “a compelling desire or a captivating aspiration,” and happiness “is a feeling of joy or satisfaction, personal well being, fulfillment, or contentment.”
He compares unhappiness to second-hand smoke, which is like an infection. It can lower productivity, harm concentration, foster estrangements, and potentially disrupt the cohesion of a community in general.
“On the other hand, when happiness is spread throughout the community at large, it fosters group cohesion and helps in building common values,” he said.
Obayuwana is a third generation doctor who came to the United States from Nigeria for medical school. With 45 years of experience in medicine, his specialties are obstetrics and gynecology, and he is affiliated with Mercy Health-St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.
He has delivered more than 4,000 babies, but it is the teaching of his “Mathematics of Happiness” that holds the most importance for him now.
“Happiness is really the issue in life,” Obayuwana said. “We all want to be happy.”
He can list the health benefits of happiness, which are numerous, including lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and healthier cardiovascular system, but most of all a higher level of satisfaction with life.
However, it was a grant from a pharmaceutical firm that has dominated much of his free time since his third year of medical school.
In a follow-up interview from his presentation at the Way Public Library, just before coronavirus came into the area, he talked about how anyone can work on happiness.
As part of his workshops he teaches how to design a personal daily routine for sustainable happiness.
“Happiness is impossible when overwhelmed by our in-born hungers, but unless we are driven by our hungers we neither act nor perform,” Obayuwana said.
Adults recognize those in-born hungers in children.
The difference between children and adults is that he calls children “nowians” and adults “futurians,” and it is that obsession toward the future that creates the need for hope.
He has come up with a series of self assessment questionnaires. With those scores one will see the aspects of life that need improvement.
Five permanent in-born hungers:
- inclusion and acknowledgement
- intimacy and trusted companionship
- food and comfort
- answers and information
- continuity and certainty
With his mathematics he showed charts with ideals to aim for, with triggers for happiness. The triggers could be the acquisition of material possessions or a new skill, but also achievements, personal relationships and family connections. They fall into categories, called SORKS, that can also be quantified.
The SORKS are self, others, resources, knowledge and spirituality. In each of these areas we are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the areas that are lacking, he was not surprised that the current protests began.
“The recipe for sustainable happiness comes down to three things: unveil your true calling, maximize your hopes and lighten your hungers,”
His first book, “The Five Sources of Human Hope,” was published in 2012. “How to Live a Life of Hope,” is at the publisher, to be released soon and he is editing “The Mathematics of Happiness.”
Obayuwana can be reached for classes on the mathematics of happiness through triplehproject.com.