📚 The Algebra of Happiness Book Review

In The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway shares the behaviors that he’s noticed in himself, and others, that lead to a more fulfilled life. He talks about 3 things:

  • Success
  • Love
  • Health

With Success, Scott shares stories and learnings from his own life as an entrepreneur. With Love, Scott talks about how his relationship with his children, parents, and friends have led to him feeling more fulfilled in life. And with Health, Scott talks about how he stays physically and mentally healthy.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s reminded me to put more energy into my relationships, to care more about my physical health (I’ve done some sort of physical exercise each day for the past 3 days), and to double-down on what I’m good at. Scott’s funny, I was routinely laughing out loud, and insightful. He’s mentioned in a recent podcast that his next book might be “The Algebra of Wealth”. If so, I’d pre-order on Day 1.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book, separated by section.

Success

Take a ton of pictures, text your friends stupid things, check in with old friends as often as possible, express admiration to coworkers, and every day, tell as many people as you can that you love them. A couple of minutes every day—the payoff is small at first, and then it’s immense. - Page 23

It didn’t take long to realize that the secret is to find something you’re good at. The rewards and recognition that stem from being great at something will make you passionate about whatever that something is. - Page 37

The lesson here … easy: don’t be a fucking idiot like yours truly, and get the easy stuff right. Show up early. Have good manners. Follow up. - Page 48

But if you’re an entrepreneur or find yourself sitting on assets that represent a large portion of your wealth, I’m comfortable saying that while a bull market may not be the best time to sell, it’s most certainly not a bad time to sell. We sold L2 in 2017. I was confident about the firm’s prospects, but market dynamics trump individual performance. We were eight years into a bull market and due, even overdue, for a correction. - Page 81

Numbers yield insights about markets, how value is created, and how we want to live our lives. A review of the metrics in your life is a healthy exercise. In sum, I need to visit my dad. - Page 88

I tell my students that nothing wonderful, I’m talking really fantastic, will happen without taking a risk and subjecting yourself to rejection. Serendipity is a function of courage. - Page 95

The truth about 90-plus percent of entrepreneurs is that we start companies not because we’re so skilled, but because we don’t have the skills to be an effective employee. On a risk-adjusted basis, being an employee for a good or great firm is more rewarding than being an entrepreneur. Again, something not discussed in a media obsessed with “innovators." - Page 97

Love

To love someone completely is the ultimate accomplishment. It tells the universe you matter, you are an agent of survival, evolution, and life. You are still just a blink of an eye, but the blink matters. - Page 114

Don’t keep score. Don’t ever let your wife be cold or hungry. Express affection and desire as often as possible. - Page 120

The other night we were with the boys at a family restaurant where there was a talent show. They had open-mic karaoke, and my older son, much to my horror, volunteered. He requested the Justin Bieber song “Sorry." The words on the screen came too fast, and he froze. I instinctively leapt to his side and began whispering the words in his ear to get him back on track. - Page 131

Your first house signals the meaningful—your future and possibility. Your last home signals the profound—the people who love you. - Page 155

It’s the illness speaking. My mom was remarkably good-spirited through the process. However, it’s not uncommon for people to be unreasonable, even mean, toward the end. It’s the illness speaking. To the extent you can, ignore it. - Page 163

One of the most noble forms of cooperation that advances the species is caring for those who aren’t biologically yours. - Page 168

My child, assessing my worth on things that have nothing to do with our modern, material world, chooses me. I’m with family, loved, and at peace. I’m in heaven. - Page 176

Getting to a place, economically, emotionally, and spiritually, where you can love someone completely, without expecting anything in return, is the absolute. - Page 190

Health

On a regular basis, at work, demonstrate both your physical and mental strength—your grit. Work an eighty-hour week, be the calm one in the face of stress, attack a big problem with sheer brute force and energy. People will notice. At Morgan Stanley, the analysts pulled all-nighters weekly, and it didn’t kill us, but made us stronger. As you get older, however, this approach to work can in fact kill you. So do it now. - Page 195

Most depression isn’t feeling sad, but feeling nothing. Crying, especially in the company of, or while thinking about, loved ones, feels healthy and joyous. I well up just thinking about it. - Page 204

We’re all seeking that balance . . . that sweet spot. Delaying gratification, so we can build a better tomorrow for us, our family, and others. You can’t miss too many planes, as people on the other end are counting on you. But there is value to waving your middle finger at the x factor, getting lost in pork, and missing a few. - Page 211

We all have good intentions that don’t lead to action. We have an even greater reservoir of admiration and good thoughts about others that get caught in the filters of insecurity and fear. To not let that dam burst is to cut life short and shortchange joy. There are so few absolutes. One of them: Nobody ever says at a funeral, “He was too generous, too kind, and much too loving.” Nobody. Ever. - Page 217

Karsen and Charly Evans were the most impressive people we knew, on top of the world, and they both died alone. Karsen was an addict whose only family or friend was my mom. Charly was too sick to feel the love of his family. I’ve become an addict of sorts as well. Addicted to the affirmation and economic security that comes with professional success. I look at the belt and feel the need to invest in relationships in case they are all I’m left with, and to maintain the perspective that, in the end, that is all we have, and all that matters. - Page 231