The Coach's Corner

The Happiness Equation

December 2nd, 2019 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Recently, I heard author Neil Pasricha speak. I enjoyed his comments and decided to read his book, The Happiness Equation. In the book, he sheds light on why so many people today are unhappy. Here are my takeaways, plus a few editorial comments:

  1. The more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm.
  2. None of us can control our emotions (Editorial comment: As a very emotional person, I found this statement liberating); we can only control our reactions to our emotions.
  3. In 1927, Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers wrote the following in the Harvard Business Review: “We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture.” (Editorial comment: Wow, I would say Mazur got his wish!)
  4. Men and women in Okinawa live an average of seven years longer than Americans, and have the longest disability-free life expectancy on Earth. The word “retirement” literally does not exist in the Okinawan language. Instead, the Okinawan language has the word “ikigai” (pronounced like “icky guy”), which means, “The reason you wake up in the morning.” (Editorial comment: It’s their purpose, or their “why.”)
  5. Pasricha includes his (and also one of my) favorite quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ” (Editorial comment: We use this quote when we’re encouraging clients to establish a purpose, or a “why,” for their life and/or business.)
  6. In 1889, the Germans created the concept of retirement to free up jobs for young people by paying 65-year-olds to do nothing until they died (the average life span at the time was 67). In 1880, 78 percent of American men over age 65 were still working; in 2000, 16 percent of men over age 65 were still working.
  7. When we’re presented with too many decisions (choices), we either do nothing or do poorly. (Editorial comment: 30 years ago, I was a member of Michigan Future, a think tank, and was blessed to spend time with some really knowledgeable, futuristic business owners. Referring to the auto industry, they would say that we’re moving from mass-production to mass-customization. In other words, the customer was going to be able to design their own vehicle to suit their personal preferences. Well, we’re still a ways from that in the auto industry, but one of my biggest complaints today is that there are too many choices among relatively insignificant products. I think this creates a lot of wasted time. I’m sure I’ve just offended someone, but remember this book is about happiness.)
  8. In 1955, the Parkinson’s Law was defined as follows: “It is a common-place observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” (Editorial comment: Here’s a practical application: Are all your major meetings routinely scheduled in one-hour blocks, or do you schedule 15- or 30-minute meetings? If you’ve accomplished the purpose of a meeting, do you adjourn the meeting early? Sadly, it wasn’t until the end of my first career that I started the practice of scheduling shorter meetings, ending meetings early, and even canceling meetings when there weren’t enough important agenda items. My partners were definitely happier!)
  9. Multitasking is a flawed concept. (Editorial comment: Yes, you can work on two things at the same time, but you do a disservice to both. There have been numerous credible studies that have dispelled the myth of multitasking.)

I was quite surprised to discover what topics Pasricha selected to mention in a book about “happiness.” And these aren’t just his opinions, as he references many studies, researchers, and other authors’ work to support his findings.

Pasricha’s Formula for Happiness: Want Nothing + Do Anything (for others) = Have Everything.

I believe it’s very similar to Adam Grant recommending that we be Givers vs. Takers.

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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