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

The Happiness Equation - Book summary

The author Neil Pasricha spent years developing leaders and organizations before he realized that many people (including himself) weren’t happy despite their career successes. This book captures the 9 secrets for happiness that he uncovered after researching and testing various models, approaches, and ideas for rejuvenating himself. In this free version of The Happiness Equation summary, we’ll outline the 3 parts and 9 secrets from the book.

The Happiness Equation: 9 Secrets to Happiness

Niel Pasricha focuses on practical insights that anyone can apply to improve their happiness level. Specifically, the 9 secrets are organized into 3 parts of the Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything.

The Happiness Equation summary - 3 parts and 9 secrets

We’ll now zoom in on the 1st secret (Be Happy First) in detail, with a brief overview of the remaining secrets. Do get a copy our full 12-page summary for more details on all 9 happiness secrets :)

The 9 Secrets to Happiness

SECRET #1: Be Happy First

Many of us are told that if we work hard, we’ll be successful, and then we’ll be happy. That’s a flawed perspective. You’ll end up chasing success endlessly–from better grades to the next promotion and a bigger house.

On the other hand, if you’re happy first, you’ll feel great and become more productive. According to Harvard Business Review, happy people are 3x more creative, 31% more productive, and enjoy 37% higher sales. In another study, researchers also found that the happiest nuns (with a more positive attitude) lived on average 10 years longer than the least happy nuns.

Research suggests that only 10% of our happiness is based on what happens to us (i.e. our life events and circumstances). The other 90% comes from our genetic predisposition and what we do intentionally to improve our happiness.

Drawing on research in the field of positive psychology, Pasricha presents 7 ways to train your brain to be happy. To start feeling happier, just do any of these 7 things for 2 consecutive weeks:

  • Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 3x a week. This activity was actually found to be more effective than medication in treating clinical depression.
  • Take 20 minutes daily to write about a positive experience. This helps you to relive and remember the great moments and people in your life.
  • Engage in 5 random acts of kindness each week.
  • Get in flow, i.e. allow yourself to become fully absorbed in a challenging task that stretches your skills.
  • After a period of engaged work, completely unplug yourself (e.g. turn off your phone and internet) so you can recharge.
  • Meditate for 2 minutes daily. This helps to reduce stress and improve self-awareness, thus rewiring your brain for greater happiness.
  • Gratitude: At the end of each week, write down 3-5 things you’re grateful or proud of.

SECRETS #2-#9: An Overview

Here’s a brief overview of the remaining 8 secrets. Do get the complete version of The Happiness Equation summary for more details.

  • SECRET #2: Do It for You: Go for intrinsic rewards/motivation over external ones, and learn to accept yourself. Learn about the 2 different types of motivation, 3 types of success and how to build your self-confidence and self-acceptance.
  • SECRET #3: Remember the Lottery: Being alive today (in an age with more safety and comfort than our predecessors who struggled with food, shelter, and plagues) already means that you’ve already won the lottery. Remember that the next time you’re having a bad day or wish you had more.
  • SECRET#4: Never Retire: Retirement is actually a flawed, outdated concept. And, work gives us 4S’s that are crucial for our well-being.  Find out why you should never retire and why/how to have an “ikigai” instead.
  • SECRET #5: OverValue You: Learn why it’s a bad idea to focus on your total income, and how you can overvalue your time to create more value and fulfilment per hour.
  • SECRET #6: Create Space: Everything we do fall into 4 types of spaces. Learn how the happiest people allocate time across the 4 spaces, and how you can create space with specific strategies to reduce choice, time and accessibility.
  • SECRET #7: Just Do It: Learn to overcome fear and procrastination with a baby step and the 30-seconds technique.
  • SECRET #8: Be You. Discover your authentic self with 3 tests and learn to be yourself (instead of living by others’ expectations).
  • SECRET #9: Don’t Take Advice. There’s no perfect advice, so learn to start listening to yourself and make your own decisions.

Getting the Most from The Happiness Equation

In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to achieve desired change. For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 12-page text summary, and a 24-minute audio summary.The Happiness Equation summary - book summary bundle

This is a light and easy-to-read book, filled with personal anecdotes, fun stories, scribbles and even cartoons to convey the ideas. Although many of the recommendations are based on established research studies, Neil Pasricha focuses primarily from the actionable insights instead of the research data or scientific concepts behind them. You can purchase the book here for the full details, or check out more resources at

About the Author of The Happiness Equation

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything is written by Neil Pasricha–a Canadian author, entrepreneur, podcaster, and speaker. He’s best-known for his advocacy of positivity and simple pleasures, including his famous blog on 1000 Awesome Things, which won him several awards and recognition. He was also a recipient of the Canada’s 40 under 40 award in 2018.

The Happiness Equation Quotes

“Because we scan the world for problems, sometimes that’s all we see.”

“Remember, it’s not the critic who counts. It’s the man in the arena.”

“Accepting yourself insulates you from the washing machine of emotions that comes from other people’s views swaying your own.”

“None of us can control our emotions. We can only control our reactions to our emotions.”

“When you’re working you become part of something bigger than yourself.”

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.”

“Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life.”

Click here to download The Happiness Equation summary & infographic

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