My Favorite Lessons from The Algebra of Happiness

I don’t remember where I first discovered professor Scott Galloway, but I do recall what he said that first caught my attention. He’s blunt. He says what’s on his mind and doesn’t care what people think. This is partially what drew me to check out his book titled The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning. It’s a book about life lessons that Galloway has accumulated through the years and some practical advice he has for finding happiness.

Here are my favorite lessons from the book:

1. Sweating vs. Watching

One of my favorite lessons from the book is the idea of “sweating vs. watching”:

The more time you spend sweating, the more freedom you’re likely to have in the future. The more time you spend watching others sweat, the less freedom you’re likely to have in the future.

2. Choose the Right Partner

Galloway goes on to share that the most successful romantic partnerships tend to be the ones where the partners are synced upon three things:

1. Passion – Physical attraction.

2. Values – The partners are on the same page about their values like religion, how many kids to have, how to raise kids, where to live, and what sacrifices are appropriate to make for economic success.

3. Money – The partners are on the same page about what type of lifestyle to lead and how much spending is needed to be happy.

3. Notice What Makes you Happy

Galloway shares that he personally spent too much time focusing on money when he was young and not enough time noticing the things that brought him joy or meaning. Once he started doing this, he discovered how much he loved writing and how much satisfaction it brought him:

No matter where you’re at financially, it’s always worth pausing to take note of the hobbies that bring you joy and consciously invest more time into them. 

4. Equity = Wealth

The path to accumulating wealth involves owning assets that earn money for you while you sleep. Galloway cites property and stocks as examples, but there are tons of different types of assets you could own to help you build wealth.

5. Rich = Passive Income > Burn

This is perhaps my favorite lesson from the book. Most people believe the following formula is true: High income = Rich. In reality, the true definition of rich is more like: Passive Income > Burn = Rich. You’re rich if your passive income is greater than your lifestyle expenses (e.g. your “burn”). Once you reach this point, life becomes much more stress-free.

6. Experiences > Things

This isn’t groundbreaking advice, but it’s a nice reminder. Over the long term, experiences tend to bring us more satisfaction than physical possessions. One reason for this is because, as psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky once noted, “possessions break, but memories keep getting better.”

There’s also an inherent trade-off between spending money on things and experiences. I once tweeted an example of this:

The less you spend on recurring lifestyle expenses, the more money you have available to spend on experiences.

Article Credit:

Published by SULV Foundation

Build and Repeat is our Mission and Purpose, we strive to make the world a better place while creating inter-generational wealth.

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