There is much to please Neil Pasricha. The 36-year-old Toronto resident’s latest non-fiction offering, The Happiness Equation, has figured near the top of every bestseller list in Canada.
That’s not quite alien territory for him since his Book Of Awesome topped The New York Times list and was a global success in 2010. He has been described as the Pied Piper of Happiness. He gives paid pep talks at major corporations. But he still lists as his ambition: figuring out how to be happy.
2016 may have left many low, but Pasricha hit the highs: His book was published, and he also soft-launched the Institute for Global Happiness. Pasricha, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, also quit his job as a Walmart Canada executive and is now entirely focused on “finding happiness”.
As Susan Cain, author of Quiet, blurbs on his book: “Dale Carnegie was last century, Stephen Covey was last decade. Neil Pasricha is what’s now.”
The new Guru of Glad pointed out during an interview that if you were to type in How To Be in a Google search, the first result would be Happy. “We want it more than anything else, but we don’t know where to find it,” he said.
So, now he’s the director of an institute that wants to facilitate that quest. And the starting point is the place where happiness is most lacking – the workplace. “The goal of the Institute is to increase happiness in organisations,” Pasricha says. That’s through making available resources online, such as workshops, videos, and even recordings of his speeches. During 2016, he made as many as 52, speaking to major global companies like Google, Microsoft and Accenture.
His idea is to be in the “middle”. There is plenty of academic research on the subject, the United Nations releases dense reports on it, there are the Oprah Winfreys and Ellen de Genereses, there are over 100,000 books available on Amazon.
“I’m not trying to outdo the scientists, I’m not trying to outdo the researchers, I’m not trying to outdo the positive psychologists. I may distil their work, I may try to paraphrase some of it, I may try to bring some of it together, but I try to make it more accessible. I hope we can bridge the divide between the academic and cat videos,” he said.
As for the choice of the workplace, he cited research from Harvard’s Matthew Killingsworth, who launched an app called Track Your Happiness. “Aggregate data from 150,000 people showed the place we’re spending most of our time is also the place we’re the least happy – which is work. Which is really depressing globally.”
Meanwhile, Pasricha has also taken ownership of the domain howtobehappy.com, which hasn’t been populated with content yet. 2017 will mark his first full year of trying to answer that eternal question.