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Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success

by Chip Conley

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-0725-3
Publisher: Free Press

A method for exploring the relationships between different emotions using simple, non-numeric mathematical equations.

Presenting what appears to be a fully realized if not always easy-to-comprehend original idea, boutique hotelier, self-actualization speaker and author Conley (Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, 2007, etc.) suggests that what he terms emotional mathematics can help solve personal and organizational problems. Using a never-too-revealing autobiographical approach, he describes his own emotional torment in 2008, a year in which the hospitality industry all but collapsed and when he suffered heart failure minutes after making a business presentation. This capped other traumas—including the suicides of five friends, a failed relationship and the unjust incarceration of a family member in San Quentin State Prison—and threw Conley into deep despair. He describes how he pulled himself up by re-reading psychiatrist and concentration-camp survivor Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning and distilling its message into his own book’s central formula: Despair = Suffering - Meaning. “In other words, despair is what results when suffering has no meaning,” he writes. The equation, while profoundly meaningful to the author, falls short of being intuitively obvious, as do several others in the book. Does joy really equal love minus fear? Is jealousy equal to mistrust divided by self-esteem? Is anxiety equal to uncertainty times powerlessness?

The author demonstrates great intellectual breadth, entertaining enthusiasm and far right-brained thinking, but readers may wonder about the absence of the exactitude that prevails in real mathematics.