“Happiness is Not a Math Problem, Or Is It?”

As moms we all want to teach our children what is important and help them navigate life successfully.  But, have you ever stumbled upon something that causes you to look at things differently?  A way of thinking that makes you see things in a different light?  Well, this happened when I read the book “The Happiness Equation”.  I was at the library with my daughter when I decided to check out the self improvement section.  I love these types of books but this one really got me thinking outside the box. 

When I came across the “Happiness Equation”, which is by Neil Pasricha, the director of the Institute for Global Happiness (who knew there was such a place),  I was immediately intrigued. As a life coach, I love reading about new updates in happiness research.  I wanted to write about it as soon as I was done because it challenges our traditional thinking about happiness.  The equation that is presented that will hopefully lead us to more happiness is this:  

Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything.

Then he offers 9 secrets to happiness.  I loved this book and how Pasricha gives scientific evidence as well as real stories to demonstrate his concepts.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“Be Happy First”.  We are all taught from the time we are young that we should work hard in school, get a good job so we will be successful and then we will, finally, be happy. The problem is that we never get to the happiness part.  We just keep setting more goals.  This book basically flips this idea on it’s unhappy head.  It suggests that we need to be happy first.  This way we can feel great and thus, do great work.  Once this happens we will be hugely successful.  I love this way of thinking because I completely agree that we can’t just wait around to be happy.  We need to be happy now.  So often I talk with people who say I will be happy when…(fill in the blank).  Well what happens if that when never comes?  Don’t we want to teach our kids to be happy in the process?

It seems simple to just decide to be happy.  In reality, it does take some work but it is very possible.  Part of what I do as a life coach is to help people once they have decided to be happy.  It is a decision and an intention that happens when we focus on it.  We have to change our thoughts and our attitude.  Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.  Just in case you are struggling with how this works, there are some proven ways to help us in the process.  He offers seven ideas to train your brain to be happy.  A few of these are exercise, meditation and gratitude journaling which are all practices that I encourage as well.

Pasricha also suggests to “Do it for You”.  If you do this criticism can’t touch you.  If you want to be happy don’t do things in life for others.  External motivation can kill your happiness.  Don’t compete with others, only yourself.  If you are happy with yourself you will feel satisfied and content.  I think this is so important to teach our children especially in a world where children are so vulnerable to criticism.  If we can teach them to do things for themselves and we model this, they will be more confident.  Isn’t that what we really want?  

The third secret that I loved was “Just Do It”.  No this is not a Nike ad, this is a powerful concept as well.  The idea is that action leads to motivation.  He says, it is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.  So if you have been wanting to write a book or run a 10K, just start.  Write that first page or run to the end of the block.  Even if you don’t want to do something. If you just do it, you will know you can and then you will want to.  Crazy huh?

There is so much in this book and the stories are fun and powerful.  I hope I gave you a little taste but definitely check it out if you get a chance.  The equation for happiness basically says the only three goals you need are to want nothing (contentment) and you can do anything (freedom) then you will have everything (happiness).  I plan to consider this new equation and hope you will too.  We will both be on our way to discovering our best and happiest selves.