Book Summary: If You’re So Smart, Why are You Not Happy Summary

If You’re So Smart, Why are You Not Happy Summary



7 Sins of Happiness

1. Devaluing happiness

  • We devalue happiness by choosing money, fame, beauty over it.
  • We choose a higher paying job or buy more expensive items
  • We need to prioritize happiness by doing happiness enhancing activities.
  • We should hang out with friends more, go vacations with family.

2. Chasing Superiority

  • We are socially conditioned to be better than others, to be the best.
  • Survivor of the wealthiest, fastest, strongest etc has been taught by society.
  • Mastery is one of human’s main goal
  • We check our progress by comparing with others
  • Desire for approval and self esteem is important for us
  • We need the freedom to control our lives
  • We use fame, money and power and status to show superiority and they make us materialistic & materialism lowers happiness
  • People get adapted to materialistic gains quickly
  • Being materialistic lowers compassion and increase self-centeredness
  • Research show materialistic people more likely to suffer mental disorder
  • Tying one’s self – worth to being better than others can lead to depression.
  • Being superior makes us happier but the process of it lowers happiness
  • Superiority could be addicting
  • Pursuing Flow is better in helping achieving success.
  • Negative self-talk doesn’t motivate us
  • Self-kindness motivates us
  • Talk to yourself like you’re a fragile little girl
  • When you achieve success thank people who helped you

3. Desperation for love

  • Our capacity for love depends on how much love we receive when we are young
  • Being in love is powerful, the greatest feeling you can feel without drugs
  • That is why we crave love.
  • we need to forge bond with others
  • We need others to agree with us.
  • Relationship brings happiness
  • Isolation brings sadness
  • We need connection to be happy
  • Neediness and avoidance doesn’t bring happiness
  • Gratitude leads to friendship
  • Find , remind, bind
  • We have the need to love and give because givers are happier
  • Babies who give their stash away are reported happy
  • Giving improves overall health
  • When we are generous, we feel more capable, effective and abundant
  • People who give charity have higher income
  • People who give get promoted
  • People who witness their generosity are happier
  • It takes five positive remark to compensate one negative remark
  • Practice creative altruism
  • Stay around to received their thanks gracefully
  • The world is filled with generously people, we just have to see it
  • The media has skewed our perspective, the world is less dramatic as the news

4. Being Overly controlling

  • People reminded of death are negative towards those who are different
  • Death evokes feeling of uncertainty and lack of control
  • Values, ideals, people make us feel more in control
  • Illusion of control is why we fear flying instead of driving.
  • Being in control pro long life
  • Being obsessive controlling lower happiness
  • People resist control
  • You can either have control over people or their love
  • Power stress is when people doesn’t act according to their expectation
  • Obsessive over desired outcome lower happiness
  • Life is uncertain, outcome is never certain
  • Appreciate and prepare for uncertainty
  • We can’t appreciate uncertainty if our live is not under control
  • Our health, relationship and financials need to be under control
  • Time scarcity perception kills happiness
  • Making more money feels like having less time
  • Awe inducing images eg. Waterfall, whales slow down perception of time
  • Take internal control, never blame anyone for anything
  • Everything that happen is your own responsibility
  • We recall past vacations to be more fun than they are
  • We over predict that vacation would be more enjoyable than they would be
  • We selectively remember only the positive events
  • We over predict negative events
  • Thoughts influence emotions
  • Anxieties are caused by uncertainty
  • Sadness are caused by loss
  • Anger cause by someone blocking goal
  • Pride result of own positive actions
  • Gratitude result of others positive actions
  • Focus on thoughts that make you happy
  • Shopping compensate for lack of internal control
  • Religious people belief God gives them control over external events
  • People are superstitious when they lack external control
  • People try to have external control by praying
  • When we have strong internal control, we don’t get affected by external circumstances.
  • Asking the wrong question can undermine confidence
  • Labeling feelings lower intensity
  • Put things in perspective

5. Distrusting others

  • Distrust begets distrust
  • Trust and you get trust
  • We are hardwired to distrust
  • Evolutionary, those who distrust survive longer
  • Trust is increase happiness
  • Learn to elicit trust
  • Learn to understand and forgive
  • Revenge is a negative cycle
  • Imagine if you’re born the way they are, you’d behaved the same
  • It is unfair but do it for yourself
  • Be likeable and you’ll get cheated less
  • Similarity breeds liking
  • Warmth and friendliness breeds liking
  • Build history of mutual trustworthiness
  • Take small trust risk and expose small vulnerability and secrets

6. Passionate pursuit of passion

  • People are happier when busy, unless overworked
  • Meaningful business is much preferred
  • Derived happiness from working towards an outcome
  • Process gets you happiness
  • Outcomes gets you happiness
  • Negative feelings lose their intensity
  • Positive feelings retain their intensity longer
  • Negative events are more significant
  • Negative feelings provide growth
  • We should pursue outcome
  • Be non-judgemental about undesired outcome
  • Note positive outcome from the negative event
  • Trust that good things will happen to you
  • Train your mind to note the positive
  • Our subjective belief can shape objective reality
  • Practicing gratitude help being positive

7. Mind addiction

  • Trust your gut and feelings
  • Subconscious mind is superior
  • Ideas came in the twilight zone
  • Self-awareness is crucial
  • Self-honesty is important but your self-worth need to be strong enough
  • GATE = Goals, Actions, Thoughts, Emotions
  • Our lives around GATE.
  • Observe your GATE and slow it down
  • Be mindful of negative feelings
  • Observe physical sensation of negative feelings
  • Behaviour affect attitude
  • Be in the moment, mindful
  • Mindful = observe without any judgement
  • Mindfulness improves heart health
  • It improves vagal tone
  • Our minds are programmed to search patterns
  • Patterns are created out of random events
  • Constantly observer your breath

8. Happiness Requirement

  • The need for mastery and flow enhance the progress towards mastery
  • The need to feel intimacy or connection with at least one person
  • The need to belong, love and loved.
  • The need for freedom and control = autonomy
  • MBA = Mastery, Belong, Autonomy
  • Abundance route = flow, love and internal control
  • Scarcity route = superiority, loved, external control


  • This Happiness formula only works for those have their basic necessities met.
  • The world will not fall in productivity if everybody adopts this mentality
  • A lot of people are still in scarcity mode because people are more concerned with surviving
  • The Media has been bombarding us with negative side of people and skewed our perspective
  • Flock with like minded people to improve yourself
  • Be flexible, open minded, “be like water” as Bruce Lee said.

If You’re So Smart, Why are You Not Happy Summary !


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