Depression and Reading: The Happiness Equation

cover of The Happiness Equation


Yesterday’s Sunday Smile was a lighthearted look at a common phenomenon , wanting more, be it material possessions or happiness.

Neil Pasricha’s Story

Neil Pasricha in his book “The Happiness Equation” gives  an example from his own life to illustrate this.

When he started his blog, 1000 Awesome Things, he was happy with 100 followers. But he thought he’d be happier with 1000. From there his aim was 50, 000. Then  1 million. Then 50 million.

But his happiness abated and he got a book deal. But that didn’t satisfy him until he was on the best seller list. Yet, being on the list for one week was not good enough. He stayed on the list for 100 weeks but was still not happy. He appeared on CNN, on BBC, and on the Today Show, and got another book deal. He was always trying to relax, eating fast food, losing touch with friends. He realized that no matter how many external goals he reached he wanted more.

Pasricha theorizes about why we keep wanting more in our search for happiness.

In our prehistoric past, life was short, brutal, and highly competitive. Being happy meant being complacent, thus being in danger. Persistent dissatisfaction or unhappiness is nature’s way of keeping us on our toes. Pasricha believes that that fear is still programmed into us.

Hedonic Adaptation

Another theory of why we often strive for more is hedonic adaptation. This is essentially a fancy word for getting used to things.  We may feel that we are happy and satisfied with life but soon we feel that what we are no longer deriving enough pleasure from that initial thing.  So, it becomes a case of going up in happiness and then adapting. Going up in happiness and then adapting.  There is no ending to this kind of pursuit.

Neil Pasricha came to realize what was happening in his life. Knowing that  this is sometimes how we function can be helpful. The Happiness Equation is Pasricha’s formula for happiness -how we see the world, what we value, what we can do to create an atmosphere where happiness can thrive.




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