I am able to actually write a bit about that elusive quality right now. I came across a Reader's Digest last week and read an article about that very thing, and how it's not related to how much stuff you have. Well, duh! You really needed to conduct studies to discover that? Anyway, the piece lists five predictors of happiness - faith, work, marriage, charity, and freedom. The one that really jumped out at me was work; it might simply be due to my own perceptions being colored. Eighty-nine percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs? Wow. When you take out all Navy nukes and lawyers from the remaining eleven percent, there aren't very many people left.
As for my own state, let's consider the "happiness factor," well-known to members of the Hater's Club. The factor is figured by dividing the time spent in the Navy by the time remaining. These quantities are usually expressed in days, because that's how we count down. Since the numerator's rise and the denominator's fall are simultaneous, the happiness factor rises exponentially, reaching infinity upon separation from active duty. I'm up to seven and two-thirds right now. The number is completely symbolic, but it's an easily understood reminder of how close one is to regaining full personal freedom. My favorite story in this vein concerns my associate Mumbles, who reenlisted on his final day in the Navy. In an instant, his factor dropped from nearly 4800 to about 1.2. That's what happens when you don't adequately plan for your future.