9 Secrets to Being Happy (According to Neil Pasricha’s “The Happiness Equation”)

Originally published on www.amillionhappythoughts.com

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of recipe we could follow that would give us happiness, love and joy?

“Mix together 1 part self-esteem with 2 parts relationships and 4 parts fulfillment. Bake for two hours and enjoy.”

Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with instructions like that. But sometimes, there are books that can help.

In his book “The Happiness Equation,” author Neil Pasricha shares what he believes are the nine secrets that will lead you to happiness.

Secret #1: Be Happy First

We’re often told that if we put in good work, we will be successful, and then we will be happy.

But in real life, it doesn’t work like that. Instead, happiness belongs at the beginning. If you’re happy, then you’ll do great work because you feel good about it. And great work leads to big success.

It’s okay to have negative thoughts. Everyone has them. Our species evolved to feel dissatisfied because it helped us seek out food and safety (and thus, survive). It’s normal to feel unhappy sometimes.

But research suggests that only 10% of our happiness is based on life circumstances. The other 90% of our happiness is based on our genetic predisposition and the specific things we do to improve our happiness.

That means you can actually train your brain to be happy. Some things that Pasricha suggests is walking three times a week, writing about positive experiences, doing acts of kindness, completely unplugging, meditating, and practicing gratitude.

Secret #2: Do It For You

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is internal — you’re doing it because you want to. Extrinsic is external — you’re doing it because you get something for it.

Various studies show that when you do work for extrinsic rewards, such as making money, impressing teachers, or receiving gifts, the work will not be as good as if you do the work for intrinsic values, such as enjoying yourself.

When you’re not doing it for you, you won’t do a good job. If you do it for yourself, you will do more, go further, and perform better.

So whatever you do, do it for you. Do it to make yourself feel proud and fulfilled.

Secret #3: Remember the Lottery

We live in a time where more is often equated with better. We are never satisfied with the things we currently have. Instead, we think if we have more money, more cars, more vacations… then we’ll be happy.

That’s not the case. Remember that you’ve already won the lottery. You are alive and you are lucky to be where you are.

Remember that more isn’t always better, and that you already have everything you need right now.

Secret #4: Never Retire

There is an island off of China called Okinawa, where men and women live an average of seven years longer than Americans and have the longest disability-free life expectancy on Earth.

Researchers from National Geographic studied what helps them live so long. One thing they discovered was something called ikigai. It roughly translates to “the reason you wake up in the morning.” It is what drives you to do what you do.

One study showed that people with ikigais were more likely to be married, educated, and employed. They had higher levels of self-rated health and lower levels of stress. And after seven years, 95% of those with an ikigai were alive compared to only 83% of those without one.

Retirement kills your ikigai. When retirement was invented, the average life span was sixty-seven years old. So retiring at age sixty-five gave people only two years to do nothing until they died.

Now, we are living much longer. And we still need a reason to wake up in the morning. So never retire. Keep learning, keep changing and keep growing.

Secret #5: Overvalue You

Harvard graduates, on average, make two or three times more than most people. But that doesn’t mean they are worth two or three more times than most people. It just means they believe they are.

Overvalue your time and spend time working only on things you enjoy. Realize that more money doesn’t mean more value.

Secret #6: Create Space

There are four different types of spaces we occupy. The first is “burn.” That’s when you do a lot and think a lot. The second is “space.” That’s when you don’t do anything and you aren’t thinking about anything, such as vacation. The other two are “thinking” and “doing.” Happy people alternate between the boxes regularly.

To create more space, you can reserve your decision-making energy but automating certain decisions. You can regulate decisions that are high in time but low in importance.

You can also create more space by realizing that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Want to write a book? If the deadline is in three months, it will take you three months to complete it. But if the deadline is in two months, you’ll write the book in two months. Move up your deadlines and you’ll create more space.

Secret #7: Just Do It

If something is scaring you, just do it. Take one baby step in the right direction.

When you accomplish something, no matter how small, you will feel more confident, and it will make you want to do more.

Motivation doesn’t cause action. Action causes motivation. Even if you fail, it will at least teach you what doesn’t work. Which is still taking you closer to your dreams.

Secret #8: Be You

There 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.

So be you. Be you and be okay with it. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life.

You are perfect the way you are. Internalize that.

Secret #9: Don’t Take Advice

There’s no such thing as perfect advice. What works for me is different than what works for Pasricha and it may be different than what works for you. Listen to what other people are doing, but above all, listen to yourself.

Think about what is best for you based on how you feel and where you are in your life right now. And then go forth and be happy.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, grab yourself a FREE copy of “The One Habit That Will Transform Your Life” at www.amillionhappythoughts.com.