Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything
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A search for “simple models to decide what to do” to be happy.

“I wish that I had let myself be happier.” So runs one plank in an Internet meme listing the five greatest regrets of the dying. Enter popular TED speaker and Institute for Global Happiness founder Pasricha, of Book of Awesome series fame, who observes, “Being happier is the biggest challenge you face every single day at work.” And at home, at the grocery store, and everywhere else, it seems, though for some reason we tend collectively not to make effecting that happier-making a high priority. Perhaps we thrive on misery, but perhaps, too, we just don’t know how to do so. Pasricha, counterintuitively, opens by saying that the trick is not to do great things and achieve great success that will lead to happiness but instead to be happy, which will yield great works and achieve all the success a person might want. Counterintuitive, yes, but not if you consider deeply his observation that happiness is “based on how we see the world” and, moreover, that there are plenty of specific things a person can do to adjust his or her attitude northward. In that regard, one of the author’s more useful cross-cultural examples is the Okinawan notion of ikigai, which loosely translates to “the reason you wake up in the morning,” whether to grow wealthy or to do good in the world. A reason to get up is a very good thing, particularly for retirees, who, to trust Pasricha, would seem to be particularly miserable—good reason, he argues, not to retire. What else not to do? Spend a lot of time monitoring email, for one thing….

Some of the book is New Age pabulum and some painfully common-sensical. But some of it is very good and well worth a look.

Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-399-16947-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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