The Happiness Equation – Book review

Happiness Equation book cover

I’m generally pretty skeptical about best-selling self-help books but this one is different.  “The Happiness Equation:  Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything” by Neil Pasricha is organized into nine sections outlining the 9 “Secrets to happiness” that Pasricha has discerned.  As a former Leadership Development Director and coach to CEO’s, Pasricha (author of “The Book of Awesome”) has worked with a lot of bright, apparently successful people.  But after a decade of such work he noticed one thing: hardly anybody was happy.  And nor was he.

Over time he developed a talk he called “9 Secrets to a happier life”, which he has now put down into a best-selling book.  A clue to where he is going to take you is given in a quote from Seneca that is placed right before the first chapter:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.  The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.  A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

Parts of this quote could, and probably have been, used on one of those inspirational posters one used to see.  Such platitudes all sound nice, but then we turn to our long to-do list and figure it’s not achievable in the real world.  But Pasricha sets out to change our thinking about this and provides simple, easily digestible steps to get there.  Simple they may be, but some are quite thought-provoking.

One of my favourite chapters occurs early in the book.  He doesn’t leave you to slog through the whole book for the punchline.  “7 ways to be happy right now” comes on page 19 of my paperback edition. But this makes sense because part of his thesis is that we need to turn around our thinking of the model to happiness.  He claims that most of us work under the misunderstanding that the road to happiness follows a model that begins with working hard (“Great work”), which leads to making it big (“Big Success”) and then once we’ve achieved success we will “Be Happy”.  But many successful people still aren’t happy.  He suggests we need to turn the model around and start with being happy first.  Okay, but how do we get there?  Well, the “7 ways” is a good start, and he uses the rest of the book to elaborate.

I won’t spoil the surprise by giving away more of his secrets.  I recommend you pick up the book and absorb it for yourself.  It’s easily consumed, but is also the kind of book I like to have around to refer back to from time to time.  And now that it’s in paperback, it won’t set you back too many dinero.  You can get it here and if you buy through this link you’ll help keep this site going.  Thanks.

A writer, actor, singer, private pilot and keen traveller. Formerly in banking industry in various head office roles including data analytics and risk management. Love music, art, theatre, film, food and experiencing new places.
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