The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything

Hardcover | March 8, 2016

byNeil Pasricha

not yet rated|write a review


What’s the formula for a happy life?  

Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and dad. After selling more than a million copies of his Book of Awesome series, he now shifts his focus from observation to application.

In The Happiness Equation, Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.

Each secret takes a common ideal, flips it on its head, and casts it in a completely new light. Pasricha then goes a step further by providing step-by-step guidelines and hand-drawn scribbles that illustrate exactly how to apply each secret to live a happier life today.

Controversial? Maybe. Counterintuitive? Definitely.

The Happiness Equation will teach you such principles as:
· Why success doesn’t lead to happiness 
· How to make more money than a Harvard MBA 
· Why multitasking is a myth 
· How eliminating options leads to more choice

The Happiness Equation is a book that will change how you think about everything—your time, your career, your relationships, your family, and, ultimately, of course, your happiness. 

Pricing and Purchase Info

$30.51 online
$35.00 list price (save 12%)
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything

Hardcover | March 8, 2016
In stock online Available in stores
$30.51 online $35.00 (save 12%)

From the Publisher

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERWhat’s the formula for a happy life?  Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and dad. After selling more than a million copies of his Book of Awesome series, he now shifts his focus from observation to application.In The Happiness Equation, Pasr...

Neil Pasricha is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Happiness Equation and the Book of Awesome series, which has been published in ten countries, spent more than five years on bestsellers lists, and sold more than a million copies. Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, one of the most popular TED speakers of all time, and founder of the...

other books by Neil Pasricha

Awesome Is Everywhere
Awesome Is Everywhere

Hardcover|Sep 29 2015

$12.00 online$21.99list price(save 45%)
The Book Of Awesome
The Book Of Awesome

Paperback|Mar 1 2011

$18.04 online$22.00list price(save 18%)
The Book Of (even More) Awesome: Junk Drawers, Puppy Breath, The Smell Of Sizzling Bacon, And Other…
The Book Of (even More) Awesome: Junk Drawers, Puppy Br...

Paperback|Apr 3 2012

$11.65 online$20.00list price(save 41%)
see all books by Neil Pasricha
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.3 × 6.27 × 1.04 inPublished:March 8, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399169474

ISBN - 13:9780399169472

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! I bought this book to read on a vacation and found that I had finished half of it on the plane ride, it was that good! I'm in my early 20's, but think this is an amazing read at any age. The life lessons are short and sweet, but give a lot of great perspective without getting too thick into explaining concepts and theories. Guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face and wanting to read more!
Date published: 2016-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read for 20 somethings! Great read for almost anyone. I'm in my 20s and I'm so glad to have stumbled on this now with many years ahead of me. I went back to highlight parts in the book and I'm still going back to re-read sections. I'm now incorporating this book into my daily life. Even if you don't action anything, the book will definitely still provoke reflection on happiness and how you are living. A must summer read!
Date published: 2016-05-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a good read! A good read, with some great pieces of advice/hints, written in a well-paced manner. I don't subscribe to every piece of advice in this book, but again it does have some pretty helpful stuff. (I also read it out of interest when I was fairly happy with my life; I feel it would have a bigger impact on someone who was truly struggling.) My sole complaint is that it could be oversaturated in quotes sometimes. A good read nonetheless though!
Date published: 2016-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME :D Neil Pasricha really impressed me with awesomeness again! This book really was what I was hoping for! People should definitely buy it, it made my day better and it will make your day better too!
Date published: 2016-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Guaranteed happiness After reading The Book of Awesome which Neil Pasricha wrote, I had to read The Happiness Equation! I'm currently only half way through the book but, so far I have found it to be very enjoyable and interesting. It helped turn my frown upside down!
Date published: 2016-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! I really enjoyed reading The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. I thought it was a really uplifting and inspiring book. I liked the layout of the book and how the author wrote it. I thought that the author appealed to all ages. It was an easy read but left an impact on me. I really liked the chapter "Want Nothing".
Date published: 2016-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from LOVE IT In the Happiness Equation I found many useful tips for the reader. I found it was an easy and heartfelt read of reminder on simply, how to be happy. Throughout the book I liked how the author incorporated little doodles and sketches to keep it interesting for the reader. The tone was uplifting in the book and I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it to family members and people who are feeling down or not. It is a nice reminder to stay positive in our lives.
Date published: 2016-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not for me I am about half way through Neil Pasricha's insightful views on how to live a happier life. Using stories of his own and personal life experiences through 9 secrets with different parts within them, he talks about how to be happier. The Happiness Equation is not very long, Neil flies through his 9 secrets easily saying what he needs to say and moving on. It's an easy read and I feel like I get a lot accomplished every time I open it up. For my high school class we read this book so that we could write a review. Although, I don't think it's my kind of writing. I did like some advice he gave, like taking 20 minute walks, but I think a lot of things in this book are a lot easier said than done which makes it hard to personally connect to the book and for the book to actually make a difference in my life. I think this book would better appeal to someone who is desperately looking to change their life to be happier. Although I don’t think this book is for me, I will be finishing it.
Date published: 2016-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from :) The Happiness Equation was a wonderful book. I really enjoyed this read. My grade 12 Writers Craft class was fortunate enough to have read and discussed Neil Pasricha’s work. From my perspective, the book is very inspiring and truly motivated positive thinking. The book is strategically divided into step by step actions one can take to increase happiness. Through sharing personal life advice to general teachings, Neil has mastered the equation to happiness. Neil carefully selected thoughtful quotes which reflected the simple and easy concepts. None of the methods to increase happiness are impossible and the book can apply to all ages. In order to fully appreciate the book, stay optimistic and be willing to take the steps/ advice from Neil. He truly created an easy and enjoyable read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone striving to brighten their day. J
Date published: 2016-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best! I have read many "self-help" books over the years. Everything from the esoteric mumbo jumbo of "thinking and feeling" your way to prosperity to the cold hard steps of goal achievement. This book by Neil Pasricha is the best of them all - in fact , Neil makes this bold statement early on and "The Happiness Equation" does not disappoint. This read is a real hybrid of fact, feelings and the authors own history of pain, observations and real world success making this book such a great read. As well, you're provided with many simple steps and ideas to implement into your own life that will provide quick results of happiness - guaranteed Willam Alty
Date published: 2016-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Forever Changed Once again my life will be forever changed because of Neil Pasricha!! The Happiness Equation was full of intriguing ideas and insightful advise, I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it. I have made so many changes in my life since reading this book from little things like having a daily mantra, to unsubscribing from over 100 different email lists. I laughed, I cried, I even had a few "a-ha" moments. My favorite part was the Secret Chapter. Definitely a book worth sharing, or giving as a gift EVERYONE can benefit from reading The Happiness Equation
Date published: 2016-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happy I picked this up! Lots of great tidbits of easy to apply wisdom for a happier life!
Date published: 2016-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it I enjoyed reading this book. The author has a gift to present well researched ideas in simple language. He makes it easy for people to want to read & refer to the book frequently. Also, I feel like I want to pass on the Happiness Equation to my friends to enjoy as much as I do.
Date published: 2016-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read! Neil Pasricha is the author of The New York Times #1 Bestseller, The Book of Awesome. I read The Happiness Equation in my Writer’s Craft course. It is the perfect balance of facts, statistics, and personal stories. Neil Pasricha is brilliant at highlighting small everyday changes and secrets and connecting them to an individual’s overall happiness. If you like inspiration like me, you will enjoy The Happiness Equation. The book grabbed my attention from the first heading “Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything.” This light-hearted, feel good book gives you small equations along the way on how to be happy and makes you want to make a change in your life in order to achieve happiness. I have heard most of these “equations” before, but it was interesting to read them all together in the way he delivers it. It is a longer read than I expected as Pasricha goes in to great detail at times; however he gives a broader perspective and meaning of life so that you can be happy. Fantastic read! Here are some of my favourite quotes: • The best advice is: "Don't take advice" • "The deadline creates an urgency that allows the mind to prioritize and focus." • Create space to avoid burning out • "Find what's hidden, stop apologizing, and accept yourself." • Doing what you love can be the hardest job • "You can learn to be happy!" • "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes." -Charles Swindoll
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice Book I'm a third through this book in my Writer's Craft class and I think it's great. It's really well written and easy to understand. It was also humorous at times without straying from its message or being cheesy. I especially liked when the author poked fun at WebMD ("It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the ending is always cancer"). I usually don't read motivational books, and I hardly ever re-read motivational books. But the way the book is written makes me want to read it more than once. This is because, while I sometimes don't agree with Neil on certain things in the book, I feel like I can learn a lot by thinking about the things he suggests. Thus, I would definitely recommend that anyone who is interested in this book take an opportunity to read it.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from YAY life! The title says it all, if you are looking for an answer on how to be happy-- here it is! A perfect blend of personal examples, research and humor. Each chapter is short and easy to read; a perfect match to your morning coffee! If you enjoyed Chicken Noodle Soup For The Soul or simple enjoy smiling, this is the novel for you. The Happiness Equation is undoubtedly the perfect gift for anyone in a rut and needing inspiration to get out. One of my favorite thing Neil says is that there is no such thing as external happiness, there is only internal happiness. This is a lesson many people need to learn and I am grateful to of been taught after reading. I dare you to read this book without reflecting on your life and making a plan to achieve pure, unadulterated happiness.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from We All Can Be Happy! What a great read! Super simple and easy to follow. The Happiness Equation is a book that is travel friendly and a great conversation starter. Neil gives readers great insight on how to live our lives and work towards a life full of happiness. A real life filled with abundance. His optimistic views on life is contagious! If only his wisdom can be lived by everyone! I can only imagine how great the world would be.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What an Inspiring Book!! The Happiness Equation, is an uplifting book about how to achieve your goals. The author talks about what we do that makes it harder to live the life we want and also how to choose happiness rather than waiting for it to come to you. Although, there is not one thing that can be done that will remodel and change your life. Neil Pasricha gives suggestions about a number of small changes that anyone can make to their life that are proven to gradually help people to a happier life.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Officially Happy Simple yet intriguing. This book is easy to relate to and easy to follow. I was already on my journey towards true happiness and this book completely made sense. Highly recommend. Don't worry. Be happy.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book! The Happiness Equation is a quick, yet empowering read. The pages fly by as you are informed of the incorrect perception of how we think to obtain happiness versus how to actually feel happy with ourselves. The book contains nine "secrets" which when explored solve the mystery behind happiness as a whole. The Happiness Equation is a feel good novel, appropriate for all audiences.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Perspective The Happiness Equation is an inspirational novel that gave me a totally different perspective on living. It helped me stay positive in not so great situations by looking at the little things in life.The novel also showed me the power of creating your own happiness along with the fact we under appreciate the things we take for granted. I began to think more about what my life would be like with certain things that seem to be unimportant to us now. Interesting read.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Short and Sweet Often as a student we read books that our teachers believe will impact us. We struggle to read through the given text, however when reading this book I found myself more and more intrigued the more I read. Neil Pasricha gives an interesting outlook on the decisions and thoughts we have in our minds without even realizing. The power of negative thinking constantly alters out attitudes throughout the day and after reading through the book I found myself more and more aware of the thoughts that enter my head. I loved this read. It was insightful, relatable and purely just enjoyable . I suggest reading this book not only to students that deal with stress and obstacles but anyone who would like to see another perspective on how life might look to someone like Neil Pasricha. The Happiness Equation is an eye-opening book.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent This book is not bad, however I feel that it is fairly neurotypical. It talks about various strategies for happiness, but not everyone is capable of all of the suggestions, and I think that the book suggests that the same things work for everyone. I do not generally like self help books, but as far as they go, this was actually pretty good.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good read The happiness equation is an inspirational and empowering self-help type of book. I found it very affirming and helpful in terms of finding happiness in the little things in life. The book talks about how simple changes in outlook, thought process and attitude can increase your happiness. It takes the thought process about how to be happy; hard work, success and then finally happiness and changes it to make more sense to current situations. i loved the book.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining with Little Value The first time I opened this book, I was overcome with skepticism and distanced myself away from the message Pasricha was conveying. I have not read his earlier works, but I have seen his Ted talk, which left an impact on me due to his troubled past and the way he looks towards the future. For this very reason I continued to read on. Surprisingly, I found myself drawn into the casual tone of his writing and his relatable messages, and it was honestly an entertaining read. Overall, I found his message slightly generic, however, there is value to the method of his delivery. I would recommend this to anyone who happens to find a copy of The Happiness Equation in their hands.
Date published: 2016-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm happy with this one! Really happy with this read. I can see so many simple changes I can make in my life to increase my happy. Not done reading but I can already see how this book will leave me changed. Thanks!
Date published: 2016-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not happy? Read this book! Three days. That’s it, just three days. Between work, kids and the rest of the brouhaha that life is known for tossing at you when you have too much to do, that’s the length of time it took me to read this book. And the reason is simple: It’s simply that good. Using real-life anecdotes and doodled graphs he affectionately refers to as “scribbles”, Neil Pasricha delivers a warm, humorous and gloriously human guide on how to find true and lasting Happiness in our lives. The Happiness Equation has helped me revise how I choose to see the world, and given me the tools I need to undo decades of socially derived, highly ineffectual conditioning about what Happiness actually is, and how best to achieve it. Pick up the book and find out for yourself – It’s easier than you think. And in the words of Neil Pasricha, “Be Happy First.”
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy simple guide to happiness Loved this book. I have read it twice and couldn't put it down. I was fortunate to have been given this book to review. In it he describes nine secrets to happiness, which are easy to follow through with and challenge your thinking. He talks about life being divided into three buckets of time, my third bucket is filled with building community, friends, family and my passion for volunteering. I have been reccomeding it to everyone.
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This will live in my purse! This is one of those books you'll want to carry with you everywhere. Just keep it in your bag for when you need a good reminder of the little things you can do the stay on a path towards happiness. I really enjoyed Neil's other books so no surprise here- he's done it again!
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what I needed! I was lucky enough to get an early review copy and get started reading! This was exactly what I needed to kickstart a feeling of new drive in my life. The book was easy to understand and had some really accessible tips on how to be a happier person. My favourite was Neil talking about the 3 buckets. I've labeled mine and find myself feeling a little less overwhelmed because I'm more focused on which areas of my life to make my priorities.
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happiness - it doesn't have to be elusive! This is a gem of a book. Written in an approachable style, each chapter contains at least one nugget of wisdom that stays with you. It’s the kind of book to dip into, extract an idea and practical suggestions, then put into practice with a minimum of fuss. The research cited — invariably an interesting read in itself — gives weight to practical solutions that are easy to implement. Author Neil Pasricha becomes your own personal tour guide, eager to share the lessons he’s learned that have enriched his own life, in both the personal and professional realm.
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth Reading A great read! This was a very optimistic book with basic and easily applied concepts. The ideas in the book are well explained. Simply reading the happiness equation will help you to feel happy. I especially like the concept of the how many hours we have in a day and the “buckets” of how we spend that time!
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspired to be happy! This was just what I needed to find some new inspiration! Simple to read, easy to pick up and put down- filled with great nuggets of wisdom on how to be happier...and keep happy!
Date published: 2016-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A CLEAR EXPLANATION OF how to be happy! Over the past few weeks while reading this book, my perspective on HOW to live more happily has changed. Pasricha clearly explains the way the society has conditioned us to think happiness is achieved in a specific order of events... when really, our thinking is setting us up to never feel like we can quite get there. I noticed a shift in my thinking... that is we want to achieve happiness, we really need to find ways to do that FIRST! So grateful for the insight in this book, I will carry it with me and have already shared it with many others.
Date published: 2016-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiringly Awesome! Another glimpse of the positive effect this author delivers. Neil Pasricha guides the reader through a true explanation of how simple happiness can be achieved. Be sure to check out "The Happiness Equation" for some truly awesome thoughts!!
Date published: 2016-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST READ! "The Happiness Equation" creates a perfect balance between humour and truth. Neil Pasricha shares his thoughts about discovering a personal journey of health and happiness. The parallels to everyday life are outstanding in this heartfelt breakdown of what is truly important in life. Quick paced and well organized makes this a MUST read! Something here for everyone!!
Date published: 2016-01-25

Extra Content

Read from the Book

1. 6 words that  will forever  change how you see happiness  Let’s start off with some bad news. The happiness model we’re taught from a young age is actu-ally completely backward. We think we work hard in order to achieve big success and then we’re happy. We think the scribble goes like this: Study hard! → Straight A’s! → Be happy! Interview  lots! → Great job! → Be happy! Work overtime! → Get promoted! → Be happy! But it doesn’t work like that in real life. That model is broken. We do great work, have a big success, but instead of being happy, we just set new goals. Now we study for the next job, the next degree, the next promotion. Why stop at a college degree when you can get a master’s? Why stop at Director when you can be VP? Why stop at one house when you can have two? We never get to happiness. It keeps getting pushed further and further away. What happens when we snap “Be happy” off the end of this scribble and stick it on the beginning?   Now everything changes. Everything changes. If we start with being happy, then we feel great. We look great. We exercise. We con- nect. What happens? We end up doing great work because we feel great doing it. What does great work lead to? Big success. Massive feelings of accomplishment and the resulting degrees, promotions, and phone calls from your mom telling you she’s proud of you. Harvard Business Review reports that happy people are 31% more productive, have 37% higher sales, and are three times more creative than their counterparts. So what’s the first thing you must do before you can be happy? Be happy. Be happy first. Being happy opens up your learning centers. Your brain will light up like Manhattan skyscrapers at dusk, sparkle like diamonds under jewelry store lights, glow like stars in the black sky above a farmer’s field. American philosopher William James  says, “The greatest dis- covery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” The Happiness Advantage  author Shawn Achor says, “It’s  not necessarily the reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.” William Shakespeare  says, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  2. The single biggest reason it’s so hard  to be happy  Shakespeare  says, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” But if it’s just thinking, plain thinking, why can’t we think ourselves into a good mood whenever we want? Seems like we should be able to just flip a mental switch. But we all know it’s not that easy. Sometimes our brains get fo- cused on negative things. We can’t stop! I do this all the time. And you want to know a secret? Everybody  does. Every single person gets stuck focusing on the negative sometimes. I’ve spoken on stages with the best-known motivational speakers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and political leaders from around the world. Do you know what they’re all doing backstage? Freaking out. Sweating. Thinking something might go wrong. We all have negative self-talk. There is no such thing as an eter- nal optimist. There are people who feel optimistic, but those people have negative self-talk, too. And that’s okay. The problem isn’t that we have negative thoughts in our brain. The problem is we think we shouldn’t have negative thoughts. But why do our brains focus on negative things? Once we under- stand this we can learn how much we can control and make con- scious efforts to be happy using proven techniques.This is one of the most important things I can share with you. Why is it so hard to be happy? Because life was mostly short, brutal, and  highly  competitive over  the two hundred thousand years our species has existed on this planet. And our brains are trained for this short, brutal, and highly competitive world.   How short, brutal, and highly competitive was it? Let’s do a quick experiment. Stop, close your eyes, and picture the last time you felt com- pletely alone in the middle of nowhere. Was it camping in the mountains when you walked away from the fire and stood on the jagged edge of a mirrory lake? Was it a misty waterfall you found on a field trip when your classmates dis- appeared and all you could hear was the wind rustling the leaves in the forest canopy? Was it jogging at sunrise on a sandy beach when you curled around the coastline and suddenly couldn’t see anyone for miles in any direction? Picture yourself back in that scene. Now mentally erase from our planet all of the following: •     Toilets •     Sinks •     Showers •     Running water •     Computers •     Phones •     Internet •     Beds •     Chairs •     Roads •     Bikes •     Cars •     Planes •     Boats •     Books •     Paper •     Pencils •     Pens •     Hospitals •     Doctors •     Medicines •     Tools •     Grocery stores •     Fridges •     Freezers •     Farms •     Stoves •     Microwaves •     Shirts •     Sweaters •     Jackets •     Pants •     Socks •     Shoes •     Underwear You are now standing alone in the middle of the planet with none of those things. Take your phone out of your pocket and toss it away. Take your shoes  and shirt off, too, because  they don’t exist. Take everything off. You are completely naked with noth- ing around. None of those things exist. And none of them will be gin to exist before the end of your life! Now close your eyes, picture yourself there, and remember that:   99% of our history was living in this world. 99% of our history was with a life span of thirty years. 99% of our history was with brains constantly battling for survival.   Life was short, brutal, and highly competitive, and we have the same brains now that we’ve had throughout our history. Were we happy back then? The better question  is: Did we have time to be happy?This instinctive need for what we don’t yet have creates in us a persistent state of dissatisfaction. Without it, our ancestors would always be only one failed hunting session away from starvation. This simple, ruthless script is pro- grammed to drive survival at all costs. It works exceed- ingly well for this purpose, but it leaves us feeling stress and unpleasantness much of the time. Unhappiness is na- ture’s way of keeping people on their toes. It’s a crude sys- tem, but it has worked for thousands of years.   We have the same brains we’ve always had through this short, bru- tal, and highly competitive time in our history. Our brains didn’t just suddenly change when we got printing presses, airplanes, and the Internet. How have our brains been programmed? What did this fear do? It drove our survival. We survived at all costs. We were paranoid. We were fighters. We were ruthless. We were brutal. We were murderous. And because of it . . . we got here. And because of it . . . we took over the planet. And because of it . . . we have everything in the world. So this begs the question: Is that fear still programmed into our heads today? 3. The one thing  your doctor,  teacher, and Tom Hanks  all have  in common  Yes, that fear is still programmed into our heads. It’s everywhere, it’s between our ears, it’s in our brains. Tom Hanks, one of the world’s most successful actors, who earns millions with every movie and has scored two Academy Awards, said, “Some people go to bed at night thinking, ‘That was a good day.’ I am one of those who worries and asks, ‘How did I screw up today?’” Andy Grove is the longtime Intel executive who helped trans- form the company into a multibillion-dollar  success. He was be- lieved by many to have helped drive the growth phase of Silicon Valley, was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1997, and was idolized by Steve Jobs, according to Jobs’s biography. How did he famously put it? “Only the paranoid survive.” Our brains still follow this paranoid model every day, and it is a recipe for unhappiness! Some call it Medical Student’s Syndrome. That’s  a term Jerome K. Jerome first coined in his 1889 classic, Three Men in a Boat: “I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch—hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into—some fearful, devastating scourge, I know—and, before I had glanced half down the list of ‘premonitory symptoms,’ it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.  “I sat for a while, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever— read the symptoms—discovered  that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it—wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus’s Dance—found, as I expected, that I had that, too—began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically—read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight . . .” It’s not just medical students. We’ve all been there. We scan the world for problems because that led to our survival. And our current design of the world only reinforces and grows these negative-lens feelings. At your doctor’s office when you get lab results, the doctor says, “Your blood sugar is fine, your cholesterol is fine, but your iron is low.” What do you do? You talk about getting your iron up. Eat steak! No work is done improving your blood sugar or cholesterol. If cholesterol should be below 200mg/dL  and you’re  at 195, great! If you’re 205, that’s a problem. Doctors get paid when we’re sick. Shouldn’t we pay them when we’re healthy? Retail store managers  “manage by exception” by staring at morning reports, finding a number below average, and trying to bump it up. If that report says your traffic count is fine, basket size is fine, but checkout time is below average, what does the boss want? Faster checkouts. More cashiers! No work is done improving statis- tics that are already average. In the classroom the teacher hands back test results and offers extra help to those below average. They have to pass! If not, the year is repeated, the system  is drained, friends all move ahead. What happens for the below average kids? Extra help at lunch. Tutoring sessions. Remedial tests. Why aren’t students who get 100% offered any extra challenge?  It’s no different in the workplace. We get job evaluations show- ing how well we’re doing. What happens if you’re below expecta- tions?  Performance improvement plan!  Extra meetings with the boss! Shipped to training classes! What happens if you’re  doing well? Two percent raise. Pat on the back. Rather than find good results and make them better, our brains do this:   1.  Look for problem. 2.  Find problem. 3.  Improve problem.   That’s  what our brains have been trained to do for two hun- dred thousand years. But because we scan the world for problems, sometimes that’s all we see. Here’s how New York Times–bestselling author Kelly Oxford framed our Medical Student’s Syndrome on Twitter: “WebMD is  like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the ending is always cancer.” So what do we do about it?  5. How much  can we control?  Aristotle says, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Viktor Frankl says, “Everything  can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to  choose one’s at- titude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Walt Whitman  writes,  “Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.” I love what Artistotle, Viktor Frankl, and Walt Whitman say. But how do you get there? Well, we now have scientific evidence of the importance of atti- tude and specific proven actions we can take to manage our attitude.  Do you know what’s amazing about this quote? The second last sentence! “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens and 90% how I react to it.” Well, new research published in The How of Happiness by Uni- versity of California psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky tells us exactly how much of our happiness is based on our life circumstances. And it is 10%! 10% of our happiness is what happens to us.  So 90% of our happiness isn’t based on what’s happening in the world! It’s based on how we see the world. What’s included in the 90%? Our genetic predisposition and our intentional activities. Yes, intentional activities. This is big. Those are specific things we can do to improve our happiness. And they alone have four times the ef- fect on our happiness than anything happening in our life. Let me put it another way: If I knew everything about your life circumstances—your job, your health, your marital status, your income—I could predict only 10% of your happiness. That’s it! The remaining amount is not de- termined by your external world but by the way your brain pro- cesses it. 6. 7 ways to be happy right now  How do you be happy first? For this chapter we look to the emerging field of positive psychology. What’s that? It’s not fluffy lollipop experiments. Pro- fessors of psychology Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmih- alyi are called the fathers of positive psychology because of their passion for cold hard facts. As they put it themselves in American Psychologist: “Psychology is not just a branch of medicine concerned with ill- ness or health; it is much larger. It is about work, education, insight, love, growth, and play. And in this quest for what is best, positive psychology does not rely on wishful thinking, faith, self-deception, fads, or hand-waving; it tries to adapt what is best in the scientific method to the unique problems that human behavior presents to those who wish to understand it in all its complexity.” Positive psychology is a new and growing field. I have sifted through hundreds of studies to find the Big 7 ways to train your brain to be happy. Many of these studies have been discussed in journals, conference keynotes, and research reports, but I’ve brought them together for you here. If you do any of these seven things for two straight weeks, you will feel happier. So what are the Big 7? 1. Three Walks   Pennsylvania State researchers reported in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology  that the more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Researcher Amanda Hyde reports, “We found that people who are more physically active have more pleasant-activated feelings than people who are less active, and we also found that people have more pleasant-activated feelings on days when they are more physically active than usual.” It doesn’t  take much:  Half an hour of brisk walking three times a week improves happiness. The American Psychosomatic  Society published a study showing how Michael Babyak and a team of doctors found that three thirty-minute brisk walks or jogs even improve recovery from clinical depression. Yes, clinical depression. Results were stronger than studies using medi- cation or studies using exercise and medication combined.   2. The 20-Minute  Replay   Writing for twenty minutes about a positive experience dramati- cally improves happiness. Why?  Because you actually relive the experience as you’re writing it and then relive it every time you read it. Your brain sends you back. In a University of Texas study called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Words,” research- ers Richard Slatcher and James Pennebaker had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day. Compared to the test group, the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward and the relationship was more likely to last. What does the 20-Minute Replay do? It helps us remember things we like about people and experiences in our lives.   3. Random Acts of Kindness   Carrying out five random acts of kindness a week dramatically im- proves your happiness. We don’t naturally think about paying for someone’s coffee, mowing our neighbor’s lawn, or writing a thank- you note to our apartment building security guard at Christmas. But Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, did a study asking Stanford students to perform five random acts of kindness over a week. Not surprisingly, they reported much higher happiness levels than the test group. Why? They felt good about themselves! People appreciated them. In his book Flourish, Professor Martin Seligman says that “we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested."   4. A Complete Unplug   “The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal,” say Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement. And a Kansas State University study found that complete downtime after work helps us recharge for the next day. Turning your phone off after dinner. Not using the Internet on vacation. There’s a lot more to this, and we’re going to chat about it in Secret #6. If you can’t wait, flip to page 145.   5. Hit Flow   Get into a groove. Be in the zone. Find your flow. However you characterize it, when you’re completely absorbed with what you’re doing, it means you’re being challenged and demonstrating skill at the same time. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this moment as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous  one, like playing jazz.  Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, he describes it using an image I’ve redrawn on the following page:   6. 2-Minute Meditations   A research team from Massachusetts General Hospital looked at brain scans of people before and after they participated in a course on mindfulness meditation and published the results in Psychiatry Research. What happened? After the course, parts of the brain as- sociated with compassion and self-awareness grew while parts as- sociated with stress shrank.  Studies  report that meditation can “permanently rewire” your brain to raise levels of happiness.   7. Five Gratitudes   If you can be happy with simple things, then it will be simple to be happy. Find a book or a journal, or start a website, and write down three to five things you’re grateful for from the past week. I wrote five a week on Some people write in a notebook by their bedside. Back in 2003, researchers  Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough  asked groups of students to write down five gratitudes, five hassles, or five events that hap- pened over the past week for ten straight weeks. Guess what hap- pened? The students who wrote five gratitudes were happier and physically healthier. Charles Dickens puts this well: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”   Those are the Big 7. You know it’s important to be happy first, and these are the seven ways to get there. Remember: Just like driving a car, throwing a football, or doing a headstand—you can learn to be happier.

Bookclub Guide

1. Neil Pasricha suggests that our model for happiness is broken—that in order to be happy, we must first be happy. This idea seems controversial, counterintuitive even. Before reading The Happiness Equation, what was your model for happiness? Has your view of happiness changed after reading this book? How so? 2. Pasricha advises that one of the best ways to get the most out of this book is to give yourself a seven-day challenge. Which of the “Big 7” ways to be happier right now are you most drawn to? How could you incorporate it into your daily routine? 3. What are some things you hide from others or apologize for? How can you begin to accept those things and remove yourself from possible judgment? 4. How has our Culture of More led to discontentment in your life? What steps can you take to adopt a Culture of Enough? What are some ways you’ve already won the lottery? 5. What decisions can you cut out of your day to be more efficient? What are some access points to your brain that you can close in order to create space? 6. Pasricha concedes that you will not agree with all nine secrets in this book. He even tells you to expect to disagree. Were there any principles that you initially disagreed with? Why? Did your perspective change over the course of the book? How so?  

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Happiness Equation:"Dale Carnegie was last century. Steven Covey was last decade. Neil Pasricha is what's now. The Happiness Equation is a two-hour ticket to changing your life!" --SUSAN CAIN, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking "The Happiness Equation will lead to tremendous changes in both your professional and personal life!"--TONY HSIEH, author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of, Inc.“Clear, practical, and thought-provoking, The Happiness Equation reveals how all of us can live happier lives.”--GRETCHEN RUBIN, author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project“I’m blown away by The Happiness Equation. Neil's nine secrets will improve how you think, how you feel, and how you act!” --KEN BLANCHARD, coauthor of The New One Minute Manager and Refire! Don’t Retire   "When Neil Pasricha talks, leaders of all levels and backgrounds stop what they're doing... and listen." --HOWARD BEHAR, Former President of Starbucks Coffee   “While everyone else implies that happiness is ‘out there’, Neil points out that it is really ‘in here’!” --MARSHALL GOLDSMITH, author of Triggers and What Got You Here Won't Get You There   "Nobody has hacked happiness like this before!" --FRANK WARREN, author of PostSecret   "Neil Pasricha is a life coach for the next generation! He makes happiness attainable by using scientifically proven habits that require low time investment and reap massive rewards!" --SHAWN ACHOR, author of The Happiness Advantage   "With simple effortlessness, Neil renders complex ideas easily memorably and everyday practical. Disarmingly written, memorably fun, and unstoppingly useful." --COL. CHRIS HADFIELD, Former Commander of the International Space Station and author of The Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth  “Be happy first. These three words are so counterintuitive that most of us don’t know what to do with them. Neil does.” --SETH GODIN, author of What To Do When It’s Your Turn  “How is it possible for subtle, non-judgmental lessons to hit you on the head like the proverbial ton of bricks? I'm not sure how he did it, but Neil Pasricha is the modern-day master of what it means to live intentionally. I loved this book!” --CHRIS GUILLEBEAU, author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup   "This lighted hearted and compelling book presents common sense suggestions for achieving happiness that will most definitely motivate new rituals and change habits in your life." --STEVE REINEMUND, Former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo and Former Dean, Wake Forest University School of Business   “Neil joined the Audi Executive Team across the United States and his happiness lessons were the highlight of the show. His is always on point, thought provoking, and receives near perfect ratings. Listen to him!” --PETER DONNELLAN, Director of After Sales, Audi of America   "The Four-Hour Work Week meets The Happiness Project in The Happiness Equation -- an incredible book that gave me time-saving tips in the first few minutes and a genuinely happier life by the end. Neil is the master of happiness. Buy this book!" --BILL MARSHALL, Co-Founder of TIFF, one of the world's largest film festivals   "The Happiness Equation shows you how to live life on your own terms. A dazzling and highly useful action book I'll be giving to everyone I know!" --DUNCAN MAC NAUGHTON, former Chief Merchandising Officer of Walmart   “Want to get happy? Steal everything you can from this book.” --AUSTIN KLEON, author of Steal Like An Artist“Pasricha, counterintuitively, opens by saying that the trick is not to do great things and achieve great success that will lead to happiness but instead to be happy, which will yield great works and achieve all the success a person might want. Counterintuitive, yes, but not if you consider deeply his observation that happiness is 'based on how we see the world' and, moreover, that there are plenty of specific things a person can do to adjust his or her attitude northward…. Very good and well worth a look.” --Kirkus Reviews  "Empathetically, [Pasricha] shows how to gain self-acceptance, feel passionate, and master important[ing] a great recipe for a contented life." --Library Journal “If you want to find your authentic self then read The Happiness Equation” --Glamour