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The Happiness Equation Summary

The Happiness Equation

Neil a Ted talk speaker of ‘The 3 A’s of awesome‘ which ranks as the ninth most inspiring Ted talk of all time crossing over 3 million views and transcript into 36 languages, and the author of nine books including The Happiness Equation and The Book Of Awesome Series which becomes an international best-seller and spent over 5 years on the best-seller list.

A Harvard MBA student, Neil Pasricha is an author, entrepreneur, podcaster, and public speaker known for his books, Ted Talks, and his blog 1000 Awesome Thing which ranked for best blog in the world by International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences for two years.

Simple Short Summary: Neil discovers the answer to ‘what is the secret of happiness‘, outlines nine secrets in his book, The Happiness Equation to bring happiness in your life by wanting nothing, doing anything, and have everything.

The Happiness Equation Summary

(Reading Time: 5 minutes)

When Neil knew, he was going to be a father, he began writing a letter to his unborn child for nine months every morning at 5 a.m. describing what he had learned about being happy. In these months, Neil wrote 300 pages manuscript. Later, these pages became Neil’s book, The Happiness Equation, a book full of anecdotes, science studies, inspirational quotes, interviews, and scribbles.

In his book, Neil reveals nine scientifically-backed secrets for being happy, however, I will show you three lessons I pick up from the book, The Happiness Equation.

  1. Use Space Scribble Method to reduce the Burden Of Decision Making
  2. Success and great work come from happiness
  3. Trust your thought and emotion because you know yourself better than anyone else

Use Space Scribble Method to reduce the Burden Of Decision Making

Think about all the decisions you make in a day from personal (coffee or tea?) to professional (checking emails now or later?). Each day, you make hundreds of decisions and by the end of the day no wonder you are stressed and exhausted.

Research suggests that the more decision you make in a short time, the quality of decision suffer, and hence, psychologist refers this phenomenon as decision fatigue. For instance, people like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs wear the same cloth every day, to avoid wasting mental energy in making a trivial decision. Therefore, sustaining energy helps them to make good decisions.

Our brain has the ability to produce world-changing ideas, craft beautiful art, and explore the mysteries of life. It is the world’s most valuable piece of machinery. Even though, we waste our energy in making trivial decisions and overload our brain with bells and beeps of our phones. 

When we are stress, obviously we are unhappy, but Neil develops a framework to reduce the number of choices we make. With his approach, we can invest more time in important choices and less on trivial ones. 

Each choice we make fall into one of the four categories: automate, effectuate, regulate, and debate.

1. Automate: Choosing your workout exercise, paying your bills, deciding your route to work, Neil explains, ‘If it’s low in time and low in importance, your goal is to automate‘. By automating certain low-value tasks, you will able to focus on high-value tasks. The aim is to free your brain, reduce the burden, and don’t think about it again.

You can automate these activities by setting a workout schedule for a week, setting up an electronic bill pay from your bank account to send static payment, and deciding a route to go for work that has less traffic.

2. Regulate: Checking emails, managing calendar, doing chores. So, if the activities are high in time but low in importance, your goal is to regulate them. Set up a schedule that works for you, so that you can perform mundane activities at a specific time.

3. Effectuate: Tasks like eating dinner with your family, grabbing kids from daycare, exchanging pleasantries with colleagues, which are low in time but high in importance, just do these activities. There is no need to make a decision simply effectuate them.

4. Debate: When dealing with a decision that is high in importance and time like buying a house, picking a spouse, and applying for a job the goal is to spend your time with them.

When you automate, regulate, and effectuate other decisions to free your mind and time, you are left with big decisions. Do deep thinking, questioning, and wondering to make big decisions that matter in your life. Debate in your head, call trusted friends, and list pros and cons because this will help you to sort out what matters and what doesn’t.

Automate decisions so you never think about them again, regulate decisions so you perform them in a specific time frame, and effectuate decisions so you just do them.

Over time, your brain will develop muscle that automates decision-making, without your thinking. Therefore, take a few moments to re-work and prioritize your time so that you can reduce the number of daily decisions you make, and improve the quality of each decision. Remember, happiness is the result of smart choices.

Success and great work come from happiness

It is easy to crave for more, more money, a better career, but external happiness accounts for only 10 percent, and if you motivate by admiration, you enter a never-ending cycle of unhappiness. Thus, you are not happy because you are always chasing something.

Happiness comes from within, and the truth is success and excellent work come from happy people. So when you are happy, you will produce quality work and achieve big success.

Even, Harvard Business Review report says people happy are 31 percent more productive, makes 37 percent higher sales, and innovates 3 times more than their unhappy colleague. Thus, success doesn’t lead to happiness but happiness leads to success. Thereby, happy people are better at work, progress further in their careers, and even have a fulfilling relationship.

In contrast, happiness is not about the absence of negative thoughts, but you think you shouldn’t have them because that makes you worry. Actually, everyone possesses them.

In life, you think happiness comes after having a huge sum of money or carrying out a big project, but this brings sorrow. You may learn new skills, so you become eligible for the promotion, and once you promote, you chase for another one. This thinking will never allow you to praise what you have since you constantly chase from one promotion to another and draw you into the never-ending loop of unhappiness.

Neil starts his blog 1000 Awesome Things in 2008 because writing brings joy to him. As the blog begins to gain traction, he sets a goal of reaching one million visitors. After completing this aim, he sets another one to reach ten million visitors and then decides to write a best-seller book. Here, Neil was chasing happiness with simply no end through setting one goal to another.

Action Steps:

  1. Write 20 minutes about the positive experience that makes you happy before going to sleep.
  2. In each week, do five random acts of kindness and two minutes for meditation.

Trust your thought and emotion because you know yourself better than anyone else

In life, the relationship you’ve with yourself is a crucial one, and to improve this relationship is to take the Saturday morning test. In this test, just answer one simple question, ‘what would you like to do on a Saturday morning, when you’ve no obligation at all?  

You may think perhaps you sleep more, take a morning walk, or have a delicious breakfast. The purpose of this test is to draw your attention to the activities you love to do, and when you consistently spend time on these activities, with time, you’ll become happier.  

Another advice to be happy is to trust your thoughts and emotions since you can’t rely on the other’s advice. You’ve to trust yourself because this’s your life as well as your journey.  

Life is full of contradictions, and these contradictions confuse us because they come from books, experts, family and friends, lectures, and others. One person might say one thing, and another says a completely different thing, for instance, one might say ‘the early bird catches the worm’ while another says ‘good things come to those who wait’ which contradicts each other. 

The truth is, you know yourself better than anyone else’s, and since you know yourself, you know what works for you, therefore focus on your judgment. You don’t need anyone to tell you what you need because everything is inside of you.

Favorite Quote From The Book:

Just keep learning, keep changing and keep growing and promise me that you will never retire. ― Neil Pasricha


Wherever you are, it is your own friends who make your world. ― Neil Pasricha


Because motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation. ― Neil Pasricha

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