Book Reviews

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

27. The Happiness Equation - Neil Pasricha

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 7/10

Date of reading: 22nd – 30th of August, 2018

Description: The Happiness Equation started as a lecture which kept incorporating more and more material until, finally, it became an international bestseller with nine secrets to happiness: Be Happy First, Do It For You, Remember The Lottery, Never Retire, Overvalue You, Create Space, Just Do It, Be You, Don’t Take Advice


My notes:




“William James said, “Plasticity, in the wide sense of the word, means the possession of a structure weak enough to yield to an influence but strong enough not to yield all at once.”” ( :7)

“”How much money do I need to retire?” “What’s the best way to handle criticism?” “How do I get more done with less stress?” “How do I find my true passion?” “How can I cure my anxiety?” “What’s the best way to achieve more inside and outside work?” “What do I do when everyone gives me different advice?” “How can I become a more positive person?”” ( :16)


Want Nothing


“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.” ( :17)

“What happens when we snap “Be happy” off the end of this scribble and stick it on the beginning? Then these important six words look like this:” ( :19)

“Now everything changes. Everything changes. If we start with being happy, then we feel great. We look great. We exercise. We connect. What happens? We end up doing great work because we feel great doing it.” ( :19)

“William James says, “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”” ( :20)

“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.” ( :21)

“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 nothing around. None of those things exist. And none of them will begin to exist before the end of your life!” ( :22)

“Rather than find good results and make them better, our brains do this: 1. Look for problem. 2. Find problem. 3. Improve problem.” ( :26)

“”Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”” ( :27)

“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 determined by your external world but by the way your brain processes” ( :29)

“”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.” ( :32)

“1 The only goal you set that matters Blog Stats: 50,017 hits. Heart thumping, palms sweating, I sit back on my creaky wooden chair, stare at my blog, and grimace. Is this real? I click Refresh, scrunch my face, and look at the screen again. Blog Stats: 50,792 hits. Seven hundred people visited my blog in the last thirty seconds, I think to myself. Only four weeks ago I’d started writing 1000 Awesome Things, and after a few hundred visits it looks like that day’s post—#980 Old, dangerous playground equipment—went viral while I was at work.” ( :39)

“I kept writing every day, adding links to email signatures and blog comments I left around the Web. I got stickers printed and started handing them out. I wrote #951 Hearing a stranger fart in public, #933 The first scoop out of a jar of peanut butter, and #909 Bakery air. Flash-forward a few months later and . . . I got to one million hits!” ( :39)

“For six months, I kept writing. After work every day, I got takeout and sat at my computer well into the night. I wrote the next post, responded to email, and started getting interviews with local radio and TV stations. I was featured on the front page of the Toronto Star! I wrote #874 The Five Second” ( :39)

“Rule, #858 The other side of the pillow, and #824 Finding the TV remote after looking forever. Nine months after I had started my blog, I suddenly reached ten million hits, won two awards for Best Blog in the World, and was approached by literary agents to turn my blog into a book.” ( :40)

“I woke up early and started interview after interview. I posted a special entry called #526 When dreams come true. My voice turned scratchy, bags under my eyes turned black, and I was sleeping three or four hours a night. And then, finally, the next Saturday morning the newspaper came out and . . . I hit #2 on the bestseller list! It was a dream come true. I went to bed happy. I had achieved my goal. My publishers were excited, too! Their joy said to keep pushing.” ( :40)

“It’s hard to compete endlessly because there’s always more to compete with when you get there. Remember we will always be number two to seven billion at everything in the world.” ( :43)

“A CEO once told me, “You always think the geniuses are at the next level.” But the next level never ends unless you are literally the best in the entire world. What are the odds of that happening? Well, they are one in seven billion.” ( :43)

“4 Why your dream job could be the worst job you ever have Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”” ( :44)

“Studies show that when we begin to value the rewards we get for doing a task, we lose our inherent interest in doing the task. Like, we literally lose interest—as in, the interest we have becomes truly lost in our minds, hidden away from our own brains, as the shiny external reward sits front and center and becomes the new object of our desire.” ( :44)

“An old man enjoyed sitting on his front porch every day until the elementary school bell rang and neighborhood kids walking past his porch stopped to taunt him from the sidewalk. Finally, the old man came up with a plan.” ( :45)

“He offered the children a dollar each if they’d return the next day and yell their insults. They were excited, so they returned, yelled their insults, and he paid each of them a dollar. He then said he’d like them to come back the next day and yell their insults, but he could pay them only 25 cents. So they returned, yelled their insults, and he paid them a quarter each. Before they left, he said that he could only afford to pay them a penny on Wednesday. “Forget it,” they said. “That’s not worth it.” And they never bothered him again.” ( :46)

“The chairman of the board introduced us with a big grin and said, “Neil’s a New York Times bestseller who’s sold over a million books! Nancy wants to be a writer! Enjoy!” Now I was smiling at her bright and shiny face. She spent a few minutes telling me about the years she’d spent writing novels that she’s never shown anybody. Then came the big question. “What’s your secret to success?” she asked. I paused for a minute and thought about it. “Do you have a pen?” I asked, grabbing a napkin. “Let me show you a scribble.”” ( :47)

“is about sales. Your book is a commercial hit! Everybody’s reading it, Sale s success everybody’s talking about it, you’re on TV. You sell hundreds then thousands then millions of copies. Your book becomes an “it book.” A catchphrase. Dump trucks beep while backing into your garage to pour endless royalty payments. means you’re a success among your peers. People you respect. This is critical Social success success. The industry loves you! The New York Times reviews your book. You’re shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. An influential author you look up to sends you a letter, which feels like gold. is in your head. It’s invisible! Only you know if you have it. Self success means Self success you achieved what you wanted to achieve. For yourself. You’re genuinely proud of your accomplishment, you’re happy with your work, and, most important, you’re satisfied. You want nothing. You feel contentment. Some people believe without self success, no amount of sales or social success will ever feel meaningful.” ( :48)

“Lastly, critical darlings rarely sell! Social success can block sales success. Let me give you an example: One of my favorite movies a few years ago was The Hurt Locker. Tense, dramatic, I was glued to the screen. The movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. There is no higher honor!” ( :48)

“But its total domestic box office was 17 million dollars. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel came out that same year. And it ended up making 219 million dollars. Which would you have rather made?” ( :49)

“Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the Japanese martial art aikido, said, “As soon as you concern yourself with the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weaken and defeat you.”” ( :50)

“So why did my Harvard professor consider himself a failure? “I walk up to my office door every morning and see that the professor in the office to my left has a Nobel Prize . . . and I know I’ll never have a Nobel Prize,” he continued. “And I see that the professor in the office to my right has written twelve books . . . and I know I’ll never write twelve books. I haven’t even written one. Every single morning I’m reminded how inferior I am and it kills me.”” ( :50)

“Buddha says, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”” ( :56)

“1. Hide 2. Apologize 3. Accept” ( :57)

“Hide For years after I graduated from Harvard I answered the question the same way most of my classmates did. So where did you go to school, anyway? THEM: Boston. ME: Cool. THEM:” ( :57)

“Apologiz e So where did you go to school, anyway? THEM: (grimacing) Uh . . . Harvard? ME: Oh, uh, okay, haha . . . yeah, I heard of the place! Haha, uh . . . THEM: By acting awkward, I made things awkward for others. By apologizing for myself, I forced others to apologize, too. Eventually, I started realizing that apologizing was a form of self-judgment, too. Great, another one!” ( :58)

“So where did you go to school, anyway? THEM: Harvard. ME: Cool. THEM:” ( :58)

“Physicist Richard Feynman said, “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake,” ( :58)

“not my failing.”” ( :59)

“Everybody remembers who wins Wimbledon. Nobody remembers who finishes second.” ( :64)

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same.” ( :64)

“Although there’s no attribution on that wall, these two lines are from a poem called “If—,” written by Rudyard Kipling in 1895. Kipling was an English short-story writer and poet born in India who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and was declared England’s favorite poet in national polls.” ( :64)

“”If—” is thirty-two beautiful lines written by Rudyard Kipling to his son John as parental advice on how to be confident, accept yourself, and do it for you.” ( :64)

“”If—” by Rudyard Kipling” ( :64)

“Remember Secret #2. What do you do so criticism can’t touch you? Remember to do it for you.” ( :65)

“NCAA Final Four was more exciting to watch than the NBA. “I don’t understand,” I said. “These college guys are running as fast as possible, diving for balls, jumping for difficult shots, smiling and laughing the whole time. When I flip to an NBA game the point guard is walking up the court. Everyone is sitting on the bench instead of standing and screaming.” He smiled and said, “The college guys aren’t getting paid for it. They might never get paid for it. They’re doing it for themselves. Because they love it.”” ( :66)

“Then one day my mom said, “Neil, for your allowance you can keep ten percent of whatever you roll.” What did I do? I rolled all the quarters and dimes but quit before the nickels and pennies. I said I’d get back to those. My mom was disappointed. Suddenly I didn’t appreciate rolling fifty pennies for five cents when a roll of quarters earned me a dollar. Do it for you.” ( :66)

“John Lennon was one of the most fiercely independent artists of all time. Do it for you? He did. Most people who experienced his level of sales and social success would never walk away from the Beatles—but he privately told Paul, George, and Ringo in September 1969 that he was leaving the group. More than a decade later, just weeks before his death, John Lennon was asked in a famous” ( :66)

“Playboy interview if he thought his post-Beatles music would ever have the lasting imprint of his work with the Beatles. Tough question. What did he say? “I’m not judging whether ‘I Am the Walrus’ is better or worse than ‘Imagine.’ It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don’t stand back and judge . . . I do.” Say “I do.” Do it for you.” ( :67)

“None of us can control our emotions. We can only control our reactions to our emotions.” ( :71)

“It is a war waged inside your own head. Our problem-scanning machine (amygdala) and our serenity-now mood tape (prefrontal cortex) are at war.” ( :71)

“2 The second war you are fighting every day T he second war is the war between and enough. more” ( :72)

“Then Pop created a comic strip based on his experience in the ritzy burbs and pitched it to his bosses. The comic strip he created was called Keeping Up with the Joneses. (He originally called it Keeping Up with the Smiths but changed it because Joneses sounded better.)” ( :72)

“hundreds of newspapers and eventually running for twenty-eight years. It was even turned into a book, a movie, and a musical.” ( :73)

“”Look, my kids are lucky . . . you and I both know that. But they don’t. Their world is different. We live in a big house, they go to private schools, they have their own computers. But their friends at school go to Europe for long weekends and we don’t do that. And one has an indoor basketball court in his house. My son came home from school yesterday and asked me why we didn’t have a basketball court inside our house.” The Culture of More affects us all! So what do we do?” ( :74)

“It’s helpful when you’re in serious trouble but stressful when you’re not.” ( :75)

“Kurt Vonnegut wrote in The New Yorker after Joseph Heller passed away: True story, Word of Honor: Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer now dead, and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island. I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel ‘Catch-22’ has earned in its entire history?” And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.” And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?” And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.” Not bad! Rest in peace!” ( :75)

“philosopher Epictetus says, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”” ( :76)

“Persian proverb hung on my aunt’s kitchen wall reads, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”” ( :76)

“Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t, always get, what you wa-ant. You can’t, always get, what you wa-ant. You can’t, always get, what you wa-ant. But if you try sometimes, you just might find— you get what you neeeeeeeeeeeeeed.”” ( :76)

“Josh Tannehill. Josh was asked by his company to move from CEO to an advisory role, which meant he was going from making a couple million a year to half of that. Still a great job. Just a lower-level position than he had before. Less responsibilities. Less than what he wanted.” ( :77)

“”I’ll be honest,” he said. “I’m worried about making ends meet. Donna’s running a design store that loses money but gives her so much joy. We’re halfway through building our retirement home north of San Francisco and the invoices keep getting bigger. Plus there’s our place on Martha’s Vineyard. Our whole family meets there for Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. With the amount of moving we’ve done for work, it’s become our home. But the boats, taxes, and maintenance are too much. With two kids in grad school and our oldest needing financial support, I honestly don’t know what to do.”” ( :77)

“1. Remember 2. The 3. Lottery” ( :77)

“boat is docked in a tiny fishermen’s village. A tourist wearing expensive sunglasses and a fancy watch walks by and compliments a fisherman on the quality of his fish and asks how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answers the fisherman. “But then, why didn’t you” ( :78)

“The tourist asks, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”” ( :78)

“Carl Sagan said, “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.” ( :81)

“Carl Sagan said, “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”” ( :81)

“There are about 7 billion people on Earth today and 115 billion people who have ever lived in the history of the world. That means 108 billion people are dead.” ( :81)

“Fourteen out of every fifteen people who have ever lived will never see another sunset again, have a bowl of chocolate ice cream, or kiss their kids good night. Fourteen out of every fifteen people will never stroll by the smell of their neighbor barbecuing, flip to the cold side of the pillow before sleeping in on a Sunday, or blow out the flickering candles of a birthday cake in a dark kitchen surrounded by their closest friends.” ( :81)

“The average world income is five thousand dollars. Are you higher than that? Then you’re in the top 50%.” ( :81)

“Being alive means you’ve already won the lottery. You are among the wealthiest people in the entire world. The average world income is five thousand dollars. Are you higher than that? Then you’re in the top 50%. And if you’re higher than fifty thousand dollars you’re in the top 0.5%. Do you need much more than 99.5% of people alive? You either have the money to buy this book or you have the time to read it. Either way, you have it good! You already have more than almost everybody on the planet. On your very worst days, you have to push your negative thoughts. You have to take a step back. You have to remember the lottery. Because you’ve already won.” ( :81)


Do Anything


“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” ( :83)

“Mr. Wilson said he was excited to be retiring, but his thin smile and wet eyes said the opposite.” ( :85)

“But mandatory retirement came at age sixty-five . . . and so he retired. The next week he had a heart attack and died.” ( :85)

“homas Jefferson said, “Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any.”” ( :86)

“Teddy Roosevelt said, “The best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”” ( :86)

“There are many breeds of dog that just need to be working, and useful, or have a job of some kind, in order to be happy. Otherwise they are neurotically barking, scratching, or tearing up the sofa. A working dog needs to work. And I am a working dog.”” ( :86)

“If you like thinking, if you like trying, if you like creating, if you like teaching, if you like learning, if you like connecting, then chances are good you’re a working dog, too. And what do working dogs do? They work. They never give up. They never stop doing. They never retire.” ( :86)

“sparkling blue East China Sea “the land of the immortals.”” ( :87)

“sparkling blue East China Sea “the land of the immortals.” This is where a ninety-six-year-old defeated a former boxing champ in his thirties. This is where a 105-year-old killed a poisonous snake with a flyswatter. There are more people over a hundred years old there than anywhere. Researchers from National Geographic were so fascinated by Okinawans that they studied what helped them live so long. What did they find out? They eat off smaller plates, they stop eating when they’re 80% full, and they have a beautiful setup where they’re put into social groups as babies to slowly grow old together.” ( :87)

“Participants reporting an ikigai at the beginning of the study were more likely to be married, educated, and employed. They had higher levels of self-rated health and lower levels of stress.” ( :87)

“What about at the end of the seven-year study? 95% of folks with an ikigai were alive! Only 83% of those without an ikigai made it that long.” ( :88)

“She wrote “To turn young minds into future leaders,” and I wrote “To remind myself and others how lucky we are to be alive.”” ( :88)

“Retirement plucks us out of the spinning gears of the world and drops our withered bones off at the beach. Now you’re nowhere, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Ever again! Why did we think this was a good idea? Who came up with this plan? The Germans.” ( :90)

“1889 that established the concept for all of us. Retirement was meant to free up jobs for young people by paying those sixtyfive years and older to do nothing till they died. But there was one big difference between 1889 Germany and the world we live in today. The average life span was sixty-seven years old.” ( :90)

“Otto ended up setting an arbitrary world standard for retirement age at sixty-five. The number had no significance other than its proximity to the age people died. Other developed countries kept following suit in the years to follow, which brings us to today. Harold Koenig is an expert on retirement.” ( :90)

“The strategy was to glamorize leisure and to make every older adult feel like he or she had a right to it.” ( :91)

“This began the transformation of retirement as a time of rest, relaxation, and fun that every American would look forward to as the reward for a lifetime of hard labor . . . Efforts were made to counteract the principle that work had value in itself, arguing that the psychological and social needs met in the workplace could be fulfilled just as well outside of it . . .” ( :91)

“While there were positive results for some older adults who took this path, it also led many into self-absorption and prejudice, tensions with younger people, boredom, and lack of a sense that they were contributing to society and to others’ lives.” ( :91)

“It didn’t exist before the twentieth century anywhere in the world Re tire me nt is a new concept. except Germany. It didn’t exist before the nineteenth century anywhere.” ( :92)

“It doesn’t exist in Okinawa or much of the developing world. Re tire me nt is a Western concept. Old people in those places don’t play golf every day. They contribute to their families and societies. It is based on three assumptions that aren’t true: that we enjoy Retirement is a broken concept. doing nothing instead of being productive, that we can afford to live well while earning no money for decades, and that we can afford to pay others to earn no money for decades.” ( :92)

“But what I want to tell you about is that famous day of January 24, 2005, when Bill Safire quit writing his famous twice-weekly Op-Eds. People were disappointed! It was the end of a voice. But how did he mark the finish of his famous column? He wrote an Op-Ed about it, of course. It was called “Never Retire.” Here are some excerpts:” ( :93)

“”Never retire. Your brain needs exercise or it will atrophy.”” ( :93)

“Combine those two bits of counsel—never retire, but plan to change your career to keep your synapses snapping—and you can see the path I’m now taking. Readers, too, may want to think about a longevity strategy.” ( :93)

“patching itself up and pushing well past the biblical limits of “threescore and ten.”” ( :94)

“hy work? Let’s break it down.” ( :95)

“Social” ( :95)

“Today study after study shows that it is our social connections that are the single biggest driver of our happiness.” ( :96)

“New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Gilbert writes in Stumbling on Happiness: “If I wanted to predict your happiness and I could only know one thing about you, I wouldn’t want to know about your gender, religion, health, or income. I’d want to know about the strength of your relationships with your friends and family.”” ( :96)

“No, no way. I tell them if I was sitting at home in a dark room in front of a bright screen all day, I’d go crazy! It would feel lonely. I’d miss the social interaction I get from work. The number one reason why work is important is because it is social. It’s what adds richness to our days.” ( :96)

“Structure” ( :96)

“They all have 168 hours in their weeks. No more, no less. The richest man in the world can’t buy more time. It’s just not for sale. So the question isn’t how can we create more time but how can we use our time more effectively?” ( :96)

“This scribble is similar for most working people. A bucket of sleep. A bucket of work. But here’s the big breakthrough: You have an entire fifty-six-hour bucket left! And if you sleep or work less than fifty-six hours, congrats! Your third bucket is even bigger than mine. This is your third bucket.” ( :98)

“By structuring our time so that we’re focused and investing our energy in a productive way, we earn and justify all the fun we have in our third bucket. Work provides this structure! Work pays for this structure.” ( :98)

“When the Monday to Friday, nine-to-five lines disappear from our weeks, our lives get blurry. You always feel the drain of wanting to work. You need money. You need social stimulation. And you always want to balance this by spending time with family, friends, and kids.” ( :99)

“But my point is you need to spend your third bucket on your passion. You deserve to spend that third bucket on your passion. Know what you’re spending your third bucket on. And make sure it’s something you love.” ( :99)

“Stimulation” ( :99)

“When I speak to companies I ask everybody in the audience to spend thirty seconds writing down one awesome thing that happens to them at work. We leave cue cards on their chairs beforehand. Then I ask people to trade their cue card with somebody who they’ve never talked to before. And then we read the cue cards in front of the room. That’s when we realize that in a span of seconds we came up with thousands of awesome things together.” ( :99)

“Story” ( :99)

“Why do I tell you all this? Because Medtronic has a great story. What’s their mission? What’s their story? What are they trying to do? Here’s an edited version: To contribute to human welfare by alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life.” ( :100)

“Coke wants to give the world happiness breaks. Harvard Business School is educating leaders who make a difference in the world. Facebook is making the world more connected. Wikipedia is giving the sum of human knowledge to every single person for free. The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human pain and suffering. Google is organizing the world’s information.” ( :100)

“It chops you out of a productive story. You aren’t part of something bigger than yourself anymore. This hampers your ikigai! So don’t give up work. You’ll be giving up the Social, Structure, Stimulation, and Story you get every day from being there. Forget the money. You’ll lose the 4 S’s, and they are much more important.” ( :100)

“Mr. Wilson taught me that retirement, as we think of it today, isn’t a dream we actually want. We don’t actually want to do nothing. We just want to do something we love.” ( :101)

“Hazel McCallion was ninety-three years old when she decided she would retire from being mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada’s fifth-largest city.” ( :101)

“Hazel McCallion was ninety-three years old when she decided she would retire from being mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada’s fifth-largest city. That’s after she held the job for more than forty straight years, winning twelve straight elections, and outlasting eight Canadian prime ministers.” ( :101)

“Fortune magazine published a report saying the two most dangerous years of our lives are the year we’re born . . . and the year we retire.” ( :101)

“Together with the sudden loss of Social, Structure, Stimulation, and Story, what we find in the barren tundra of retirement is the cold, wet, guilt-drenched thought that this is what we wanted, this is” ( :101)

“what we worked our whole lives toward, this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But there is no pot of gold. Remember the 4 S’s when you’re lost.” ( :102)

“I know when you look you’ll always find meaty projects and passionate causes you can sink your teeth into. Just keep learning, keep changing, and keeping growing. And promise me that you will never retire.” ( :102)

“The average graduating salary is $120,000! To put that in perspective, the average American makes $24,000.” ( :105)

“They all make $28/hour. Where did I get the numbers from?” ( :111)

“Is it any wonder I once heard a retail COO say on a conference panel, “It’s a bad sign when a store manager buys a house. Means they’re settling down. Means they might get stale. We move the best managers from city to city to city so they have a new community to learn and new social and work systems to develop. It gives the stores great energy to have new ideas. And when they get comfortable, we move them again!” He didn’t say this at the head of a mahogany table while petting a cat and filling a room with evil laughter. He just shared what worked best for his business. It was his job to do what was best.” ( :118)

“Space without an end date—or an ikigai—can lead to swirling and swirling.” ( :119)

“”When we take time off from working on a problem, we change what we’re doing and our context, and that activates different areas of our brain,” says Keith Sawyer, author of Explaining Creativity. “If the answer wasn’t in the part of the brain we were using, it might be in another. If we’re lucky, in the next context we may hear or see something that relates—distantly—to the problem we had temporarily put aside.”” ( :121)

“Where did the solution eventually come from? Creating space. One day NASA engineer Jim Crocker was taking a shower in a hotel in Germany and he noticed the European-style showerhead mounted on adjustable rods with folding arms. A brain wave occurred, and Jim pictured using the same rods to mount the new mirrors inside the Hubble. Flash-forward and this moment of clarity was the secret to fixing the telescope and allowing it to function to this day. Jim wasn’t working late on Friday. He wasn’t in the lab all weekend. He was in the shower on vacation, allowing his brain the space to relax. When it wasn’t told what to do, it did its own thing. Today the Hubble routinely pulls back colorful, mind-bending images that expand imaginations around the world. All from a German shower.” ( :123)

“At first I was almost outraged and then I discovered that he did this intentionally. He mistrusted working under pressure, and he would say, ‘We’re pressing, we’re pressing, we’re working too hard. Relax, it will come.’ And of course it finally always did.”” ( :124)

“”This clothing department looks completely different. Somebody has taken the clothes shipped by the head office, ditched most of them, and created their own offering with a consistent style, theme, and colors. Shirts on one side, pants on the other, dresses at the back. All the same three colors. This is one of the best clothing departments I’ve seen. Beats a lot of stores they have overseas.”” ( :125)

“That display says here’s the color, here’s the style, here’s what you want. Take it or leave it. There are less decisions so you feel confident and trust the opinion.” ( :125)

“Cajun trout, teriyaki salmon, or lemon sole? Once you made your pick, the fishmonger dipped your fish in the seasoning and the label printed off the instructions on how to cook it.” What happened? “Sales were up over five hundred percent.”” ( :125)

“”Can I ask you a question?” I asked him one night while working late. “Where do you get your clothes?” He laughed. “You won’t believe it. Once a year I buy thirty white boxers, thirty identical pairs of black socks, fifteen custom-fitted dress shirts, and five pairs of black pants. I do laundry once a month. I never match socks, I never shop on weekends, I never spend any time thinking about what I’m wearing. It’s always the next thing in my closet. You’ll probably see this blue shirt again in a couple weeks.”” ( :126)

“He simply made better decisions, by making fewer decisions, by reserving his decision-making energy for things that mattered.” ( :127)

“285 reasons why you’re tired right now What a day! In total I made decisions. Exhausting. What were they about? I’m embarrassed to admit I made 285 decisions at the gym, decisions about checking email, and decisions about food. 75 62 32 These three topics alone were half of all my daily decisions, yet they were things that” ( :132)

“If Checking Account > $1,000, Move All $ over $1,000 into Investing Account. Rule #1: If Investing Account > $1,000, Move All $ over $1,000 into Investments. Rule #2: Never Break Rule #1 or Rule #2. Rule #3: “It works because I remove my brain from the equation. I don’t have any choice, so I’m forced to be happy with how I’ve invested. If the fund went up in value, I tell myself I was smart for investing some earlier to capitalize on those gains! Like, if the market is at an all-time high and there has never been a worse time to buy, I tell myself, ‘Boy, I sure am smart only investing a little now and not my entire life savings.’ Alternatively, if the fund has gone down in value, I tell myself I was smart for saving money to benefit from lower prices today. It’s a win-win. Now all my money is invested, I don’t pay any adviser fees, and I don’t spend any time thinking about it.”” ( :134)

“So here’s the final piece of this experiment. We bring in a whole new group of naive Harvard students and we say, “You know, we’re doing a photography course, and we can do it one of two ways. We could do it so that when you take the two pictures, you’d have four days to change your mind, or we’re doing another course where you take the two pictures and you make up your mind right away and you can never change it. Which course would you like to be in?” Duh! Sixty-six percent of the students—two-thirds—prefer to be in the course where they have the opportunity to change their mind. Hello? Sixty-six percent of the students choose to be in the course in which they will ultimately be deeply dissatisfied with the picture.” ( :135)

“But having more choice reduces our happiness. We get decision fatigue. What happens? We avoid the decision or we make a bad decision. And we” ( :135)

“always worry we made the wrong choice.” ( :136)

“You look at decisions you make on a daily basis and decide which ones to automate, regulate, effectuate, and debate.” ( :136)

“Our brains are exhausted, so we stop making decisions completely. We walk out in Do nothing. protest! This is what happens on forms where you need to pick one of twenty-five different investment funds for your pension or twenty-six varieties of shampoo. What do people do? Ignore them all. Go with the default. We are so tired by this point we quit completely.” ( :136)

“Carr, author of New York Times bestseller The Shallows, says, “The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”” ( :137)

“Free your brain. Just don’t mistake these smaller decisions for the more important decisions in which they reside. Deciding to work out every day is important. Picking which dumbbell to lift next is not.” ( :138)

“Everybody was working as fast as they could, but it felt slow to customers. What happened? Work expands to fill the space available and the result is lower quality.” ( :141)

“”Parkinson’s Law,”” ( :141)

“The single law that determines how long anything takes to do In November 1955 a strange article appeared in The Economist by an unknown writer named C. Northcote Parkinson.” ( :141)

“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” ( :141)

“It was a rambly Friday-morning affair without a clear agenda, presentation guidelines, or timelines, all in front of a thousand people. The CEO would speak for as long as he wanted about whatever he wanted and then pass the mic to the next executive sitting at a table, who would speak as long as he wanted about whatever he wanted, before passing the mic to the next person. It was unpredictable—and starting at 9:00 a.m., it rolled into 10:00 a.m., sometimes 10:30 a.m., and occasionally 11:00 a.m. People would go on tangents. Nobody was concise. And everyone would leave two hours later in a daze, trying to remember all the mixed priorities they heard at the beginning of the meeting.” ( :142)

“We created five segments of five minutes each and set up an agenda and schedule of presenters in advance. “The Numbers,” “Outside Our Walls,” “The Basics 101,” “Sell! Sell! Sell!” and “Mailbag,” where the CEO opened letters and answered questions from the audience.” ( :142)

“Because I downloaded a “dong” sound effect that we played over the speakers with one minute left, a “ticking clock” sound effect that played with fifteen seconds left, and then the A/V guys actually cut off a person’s microphone when time hit zero. If you hit zero, you would be talking onstage but nobody could hear you. You just had to walk off.” ( :142)

“”For a large organization to be effective, it must be simple. For a large organization to be simple, its people must have self-confidence and intellectual self-assurance. Insecure managers create complexity. Frightened, nervous managers use thick, convoluted planning books and busy slides filled with everything they’ve known since childhood. Real leaders don’t need clutter. People must have the self-confidence to be clear, precise, to be sure that every person in their organization—highest to lowest—understands what the business is trying to achieve. But it’s not easy. You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple. They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simpleminded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse. Clear, toughminded people are the most simple.”” ( :142)

“What happened to productivity? Well, a thousand people saved an hour every week. That’s 2.5% of total company time saved with just one small change.” ( :143)

“”The less time we have to do it, the more focused and organized we are. We all work together. We have to! There is no way we’d hit the deadline otherwise. And we always manage to pull it off,” Sam says.” ( :143)

“What’s the counterintuitive secret to having more time? Chop the amount of time you have to do it.” ( :143)

“Look at the left of the graph. The less time available, the more effort you put in. There is no choice. The deadline is right here. Think of how focused you are in an exam. Two hours to do it? You do it in two hours! That deadline creates an urgency that allows the mind to prioritize and focus.” ( :144)

“Nothing kills productivity faster than a late deadline.” ( :144)

“”Delay is the deadliest form of denial,”” ( :144)

“Too much of it. And work expanding to fill it as a result. Time . What’s the solution? Create last-minute panic!” ( :144)

“Roger was the highly touted CEO of the oil and gas company who everybody looked up to. He was highlighted in flashy magazine articles and known as a people leader who espoused work-life balance while nonchalantly beating his numbers every year. Meanwhile, employees at the company told us he ate lunch in the company cafeteria, drove a beat-up truck to work, and had dinner with his kids every night. The man was a legend.” ( :145)

“I steadied my nerves as we stepped into the boardroom where Roger was sitting and chatting with our company president. He smiled and got up to shake our hands and thank us for the work we’d done. “I’m so excited,” he said with a big grin. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate how hard you’ve been working. You guys are geniuses. I’m going to learn so much from this chat.” The anger I felt about his unresponsiveness suddenly melted. I felt like a million bucks.” ( :146)

“His eyes opened a bit and he seemed surprised by the question. But he wasn’t fazed. “Neil,” he said, “there’s a problem with email. After you send one, the responsibility of it goes away from you and becomes the responsibility of the other person. It’s a hot potato. An email is work given to you by somebody else.”” ( :146)

“”I do read emails, but the ones looking for something are always much less urgent than they seem. When I don’t respond, one of two things happens: 1. The person figures it out on their own, or, 2. They email me again because it really was important.” ( :146)

“”You know what,” he continued, “since I don’t write many emails, I don’t receive many, either. I probably only get five or ten emails a day.”” ( :146)

“And Baydin, one of the world’s largest email-management services, says the average person gets 147 emails a day. We were all attached to our cell phones and computers, firing emails around, working hard to get everything done. It was part of the job. And we all wanted to do a good job.” ( :146)

“Suddenly it started to click why Roger was known to have lunch in the cafeteria with employees every day and drive home for dinner with his family every night. He didn’t respond to hot potatoes. He didn’t write back to emails and create email chains. I looked up at Roger again, and he continued.” ( :146)

“”Most of the time, Neil, people really do figure it out on their own. They realize they know the answer, they keep on moving, they develop confidence for next time. They become better themselves. Your assumptions in the slides today weren’t perfect, but they worked perfectly well and you learned by doing them. Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes walk over to chat with a person or pick up the phone. But if I wrote back to an email, I’d be sending a hot potato. And nobody wants to be asked by the CEO to do something . . . never mind on an evening or weekend. Why? Because people would drop everything to reply. And they would expect me to reply to that. Basically, if I sent an email, it would never end. So I end it.”” ( :147)

“Brains made planes, trains, and automobiles. Brains make your life what it is and die when you do. The good news is for no money down, no annual fees, and no monthly interest, you get one free copy of the universe’s most complex and powerful object. It’s yours for life! The only bad news is there is no warranty, it requires daily recharging, and even the longest-lasting models in the world last only forty thousand days. (The average model lasts twenty-five thousand days.)” ( :147)

“What’s the bell? It’s your number one top priority. What was Roger’s bell? Emails from the chairman of the board and his family.” ( :147)

“As my friend Mike once told me, “Screwing up two things at the same time isn’t multitasking.”” ( :148)

“How do you add an hour to your day with only one small change? You need to remove access. Close the doors, lock the windows, answer the bell.” ( :149)

“1. Bookmark 2. Prioritize 3. Switch” ( :150)

“1. How to make every decision at twice the speed? Remove choice. 2. What’s the counterintuitive way to having more time? Remove time. 3. How to add an hour to the day with only one small change? Remove access.” ( :152)


Have Everything


“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ( :156)

“For me, when it came to swimming, I couldn’t get past Can Do (“I can’t swim”) or Want to Do (“I don’t want to swim”), so I never got to Do (“I’m going swimming”).” ( :160)

“”Not me,” I said, a bit disappointed. “I don’t swim. Not a big fan.” “Well, you’ll have to be if you want to come to my cottage. It’s on an island in the middle of a lake! We all swim around the island every morning. My ten-year-old cousins. My eighty-year-old grandparents. All of us! You don’t have to join, but you’ll be the only person sitting on the dock.” I signed up for swimming lessons that night.” ( :160)

“Within two minutes I realized I fit in. Who was with me? Recent immigrants from landlocked countries, those with more traumatic childhood experiences than mine, and people from families that didn’t have money for swimming lessons when they were kids. I wasn’t the worst swimmer in the group for once. We all sucked! Trust formed quickly. Within an hour I was flutter-kicking in the deep end, wearing a life jacket. Within a couple weeks I was jumping in. A month later I was treading water. And by the end of the classes I was doing the front crawl.” ( :161)

“What’s the difference? Look at the Do Circle. It’s endless. There is no start or finish. It keeps going and going and going. You don’t have to end at Do. Do can be a starting point! Do leads to Can Do!” ( :162)

“What happened in the pool? I did it . . . so I believed I could do it . . . so I wanted to do it. Instead of finishing at Do, I started there. And that made me think I can do. And that made me want to do. Everything happens backward. You start doing, and confidence and motivation follow.” ( :162)

“So what big lesson did I learn that day? I learned it’s not easier said than done. It’s easier done than said.” ( :163)

“can you start by doing in order to get more done? Here is an anecdote shared by Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestseller I Will Teach You To Be Rich:” ( :166)

“I finally realized that ‘motivation’ alone has very little to do with successfully changing behaviors. I started testing different techniques: adding gym to my calendar, sleeping 30 minutes earlier. I would test different approaches for 2 weeks . . . I got mediocre results. But when I sat down to analyze why I wasn’t going to the gym, I realized: My closet was in another room. That meant I had to walk out in the cold, in my boxer shorts, to the other room, shivering while I put on my clothes. Easier to just stay in bed. Once I realized this, I folded my clothes and shoes the night before. When I woke up the next morning, I would roll over and see my gym clothes sitting on the floor. In fact, I couldn’t get up without stepping on them! The result? My gym attendance soared by over 300%.”” ( :166)

“He explained it best in his First Law of Physics. “An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by a larger force.” Put it another way: Start doing something? You’ll continue. Why? Because motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation.” ( :167)

“Very low. The greatest leaders just try and try and try. They try. And then they try. And then they try some more. Sure, you will fail at some things. But you’ll keep moving. And more often you’ll succeed. Little wins turn into confidence and desire to try again, which leads to bigger wins.” ( :169)

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.” ( :170)

“The re is nothing more satisfying than being loved for who you are and nothing more painful than being loved for who you’re not but pretending to be.” ( :174)

“Rosey was a massive guy you did not want to go up against on the football field—he was part of the Fearsome Foursome on the LA Rams. One of the best defensive lines in history.” ( :175)

“He became a bodyguard and ended up subduing the gunman during the Robert Kennedy assassination. He became a recording artist and his song reached #128 on the charts. He became a talk-show host in LA. And my favorite of all? Rosey Grier took up needlepoint. With complete passion. He said it calmed him down, took away his fear of flying, and helped him meet women. In fact, Rosey loved needlepoint so much he wrote a book called Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men.” ( :175)

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” But it’s not easy. So why should you aim for it?” ( :178)

“1. The Saturday Morning Test What do you do on a Saturday morning when you have nothing to do? Your authentic self should go toward that . . . 2. The Bench Test How do you feel when you put yourself in a new situation? Your authentic self will lead you toward that . . . 3. The Five People Test Who are the five people closest to you in the things you love most? Your authentic self is an average of those people . . .” ( :180)

“Ask yourself that one crucial question, think about it for a second, and answer it out loud. What do you do on Saturday morning when you have nothing to do? Do you go to the gym? Do you record yourself playing guitar? Take whatever answer you have and then wildly brainstorm ways you can pursue opportunities that naturally spew from that passion. There will be hundreds.” ( :181)

“Dale Carnegie said, “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.” The Saturday Morning Test asks you to lean in to your natural passion to enrich your work and personal lives.” ( :181)

“The Bench Test. “Basically, I figured I could rent a Jeep for a week for two hundred dollars. And I knew making this decision was worth more than two hundred dollars. So I rented a Jeep and visited Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and Columbia. At each campus I walked around until I found a bench near the middle of campus. Then I sat in the bench for an hour and listened. I watched the students and listened to all the conversations around me. I listened to what was important to them, how they talked to each other, what they were excited about.”” ( :182)

“”Well,” Fred continued, “I figured most of my time over the next four years would be spent doing exactly what I was listening to. Going to classes was twenty or thirty hours a week, tops. The rest is making friends, chatting on the way to class, figuring out plans. Basically, my experience was going to be the sum of all the conversations I had over four years. So I tried to hear those conversations and figure out if they were a good fit for me. I tried listening to my authentic self and letting it lead me toward the right decision.”” ( :182)

“The Bench Test worked for Fred because he immersed himself in the new situation he wanted to test and then That’s what The Bench Test is about. Really putting patiently observed his authentic reaction to that situation. yourself into something new for a short time to test it.” ( :182)

“The culture wasn’t for everybody. But I loved it immediately.” ( :183)

“”The company is the five people you sit beside.” My leadership professor at Harvard said this all the time. What did he mean? The five people on your team, the five people you eat lunch with every day, the five people telling you all about the company—they are the company. They create and help articulate your view of the company.” ( :183)

“Sure, it’s an approximation, but The Five-People Test shows us who we are . . . to ourselves. It’s one of the three tests you can use to find your authentic self. As American philosopher William James said, “Wherever you are it is your own friends who make your world.”” ( :184)

“Daily Mail, among others. So what were the greatest regrets she heard from patient after patient? Didn’t make enough money? Didn’t work enough hours? Not enough vacations? Not enough homes? No. You know that by now. The 5 Greatest Regrets of the Dying are:” ( :185)

“”Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”” ( :186)

“Do you think it’s hard to do this? If you do, you’re right. It is very hard. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry says, “How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people. What is true is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one can see clearly.”” ( :187)

“Chuck Klosterman says, “I honestly believe that people of my generation despise authenticity, mostly because they’re all so envious of it.”” ( :187)

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”” ( :187)

“Eckhart Tolle says, “Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.”” ( :187)

“An ancient African proverb says, “When there are no enemies within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”” ( :187)

“What happens if you don’t share your true self with the world? Well, then you may never truly know who might love the person you hide. Be you.” ( :188)

“If I’m happy 80% of the time and Leslie’s happy 80% of the time, how often are we in good moods together? 64%. How did we get 64%? Because 80% times 80% is 64%. That’s when our good moods overlap. A full two-thirds of the time! We’re both smiling and loving and happy and life is funny and moments are precious and everything is in its right place. These are the great days. The great moments. The best side of life. How often are we in bad moods together? The answer is 4% of the time. Because 20% times 20% is 4%.” ( :191)

“What percent of the time are you happy and what percent of the time is your partner happy? If you’re not in a relationship right now, think about this question with your boss, roommate, or sibling. Whoever you see more than anyone. Whoever has the most opportunity to influence your mood.” ( :191)

“The person we’re with affects our happiness tremendously. If I’m happy 80% of the time and my partner is happy only 50% of the time, then suddenly 50% of our time is up for grabs. Half of how we feel! We’re pulling and dragging each other into good and bad moods. Half the time! And I walked into this feeling great 80% of the time. What an energy drag.” ( :193)

“For Leslie and me, we’re both happy 64% of the time, and both unhappy 4% of the time, so 32% is up for grabs. Find your own percentage. What do you notice? The person we’re with affects our happiness tremendously. If I’m happy 80% of the time and my partner is happy only 50% of the time, then suddenly 50% of our time is up for grabs. Half of how we feel! We’re pulling and dragging each other into good and bad moods. Half the time! And I walked into this feeling great 80% of the time. What an energy drag. Remember The Five People Test. You are the average of the five people around you. But you are an even bigger average of the one person around you most. You are tremendously influenced (or you spend a lot of energy influencing) the specific mood and energy of your partner. What’s the learning? It is really important to find a partner who is at your level of happiness. Or higher. The good news is that you can Be Happy First (Secret #1). But it could be exhausting cheering somebody up all the time. So think whether your partner is adding to your happiness or draining it.” ( :193)

“”You’ve done your research, you own the meeting, you don’t have to worry what anyone thinks,” he said. “You get to decide. And remember that all advice conflicts. You can twist advice any which way to make any point you want. Have you heard that ninety-seven percent of lung cancer patients are smokers and ninety-seven percent of smokers never get lung cancer?”” ( :195)

“I also learned that cliché comes from the French. In old printing presses, a cliché was a physical metal printing plate that was also called a stereotype. Over time it made sense to cast commonly used phrases in a single slug of metal instead of letter by letter. So a cliché was a collection of words used together often.” ( :196)

“Lots of clichés conflict, too! What’s the single biggest problem with all advice you will ever receive? The fact there is no such thing as rock-solid advice. There just isn’t any. No advice bird in the bush (what if you’re vegetarian?), nothing you can hang your hat on (what if you don’t wear hats?), and nothing you can take to the bank (or bank online?).” ( :196)

“The proof is that even well-worn clichés look flimsy lined up against their exact opposite. All advice conflicts!” ( :197)

“Remember: Advice reflects the adviser’s thoughts, not your thoughts.” ( :197)

“Any cliché, quote, or piece of advice that resonates with you only confirms to your mind something you already know. Charles Varlet wrote back in 1872, “When we ask advice we are usually looking for an accomplice.”” ( :198)

“Always remember there are only three goals. To want nothing. That’s contentment. To do anything. That’s freedom. To have everything. That’s happiness. What are the nine secrets to get us there?” ( :199)

Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

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