I lean heavily toward personal, leadership, or organization development books that are evidence-based. Neil does cite some research and many of his approaches align well with the emerging science of well-being. What sets this book apart is simplicity, practicality, and readability. Neil uses a breezy, conversational style, liberally illustrated with his “scribbles” or hand drawn diagrams. The very short chapters — some only one page — makes the book easy and fun to browse.
Here are a few points that stood out most for me:
- The traditional equation of Great work -> Big Success -> Be Happy needs to Change to Be Happy -> Great Work -> Big Success. Be happy needs to come first.
- Do it for you. Don’t do it to please others.
- Lack of self-confidence is the root of why we pay too much attention to critics and compare ourselves to others to gauge our success. High opinion of both ourselves and others is what brings confidence.
- We’re programmed to scan for problems to fix and dangers to watch out for. We have much to be grateful for and need to focus on our strengths and positives.
- Retirement is a new concept, a Western concept, and a broken concept based on the assumptions that we enjoy doing nothing instead of being productive. Work gives us socializing, structure, stimulation, and story (purpose).
- How much are you truly earning when you break it down hourly? Overvalue you and your own time.
- Reduce your choices and decisions.
- Multi-tasking is a myth — we can only do one thing at a time.
- Create space for yourself.
- It’s easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.
- Be you — be authentic. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life.
- Your spouse/life partner has a huge impact on your happiness.
- You can take advice, but you need to listen to your inner voice and decide for yourself.
Neil calls many of his chapters and sections “secrets.” But they’re becoming pretty well-known now. If you’re looking for an inspiring and uplifting summary or reminder of what leads to higher happiness and well-being, The Happiness Equation adds up to time well invested.