Here are two books you should buy, and then promptly destroy

Takeaway: Let the Elephants Run by David Usher, and The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha, are two incredible books that serve as great portals to exploring creativity and happiness, respectively. If you’re curious about either topic, I highly recommend these books.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 57s.

destroy these booksRZ

Above are two incredible books—The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha, and Let the Elephants Run by David Usher—that you should buy, and then absolutely desecrate while reading them.

I discovered these books separately. A friend recommended Elephants to me, and I came across Happiness while diving into Neil’s previous work.

Let the Elephants Run is a physically stunning book—by far the prettiest book I own. But the book is a paradox: despite its looks, from the beginning it invites you to pull it apart, and write all over it. To quote page 13 (an otherwise blank page, apart from this text): “Throughout our lives most of us have been taught not to write in books and mess up the pages. I want you to do the opposite. Break the seal. Write, draw, scribble on the page below…” At first, I questioned the book. But once I overcame that resistance, I dove in deep and began to write all over the pages. Part of the reason I love this book is because it’s unlike any other book I’ve read. Every page is surprising. But what I like above all else is how David doesn’t have any illusions about how hard it can be to cultivate creativity. As he puts it, “Artists know from experience that what appears, at first glance, to be divinely anointed talent is really countless hours of study and endless drive. Talent matters, but work is what delivers you.” This book will help you get there.

I started reading The Happiness Equation shortly after starting this one, often flipping from one to the other with a pen still in my hand. I’m happy I did—like with Elephants, I found myself filling The Happiness Equation with highlights and comments as I pored through it. The book was a blast to read. Like Let the Elephants Run, it’s playful, beautiful, and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself nodding your head in agreement as you dive deeper and deeper in the book. But above all this, it’s practical. The book boils down all of the happiness research out there into nine principles we can live by every day. Some are simple, like continually reminding ourselves of how lucky we are, which Neil names “remembering you’ve won the lottery.” Other principles are more unexpected, like why you should never retire. (I didn’t buy into this one before reading the book, but Neil changed my mind.) If you’re curious about happiness, but haven’t jumped too deep into the research surrounding the topic, pick up this book.

Aside from being interactive and pretty, what makes these books so good is how they treat both creativity and happiness not as magical, impossible-to-reach ideas, but as practices—things we can improve upon, and eventually master. Both books are portals that suck you in, and invite you to stay longer and learn more.

The connection between creativity and productivity is simple. When you invest in your creativity, regardless of the work, you come up with much more clever solutions to problems, and begin to see opportunities all around you. Happiness is similar because it can help you see more opportunities and work smarter. Studies also show that happier people are 31% more productive than everyone else.

In my mind, creativity and happiness are integral to productivity—both let you bring more energy and attention to your work, and perhaps more importantly, connect with what you do on a deeper level.

If you’re curious about either, I highly recommend these two books.

  • Neil Pasricha

    Wow, thanks Chris! So flattered to be included with the incredible @davidusher’s Let The Elephants Run. I bought that one as soon as it came out and found it so inspiring. Appreciate the kind words! So glad you liked the book.

  • Brandon Woods

    I got both books from a friend of mine…and they’re very good. Both have great tips on being more happy in life and how to open yourself up to more creativity. Highly recommend both. And I agree with being truly happy is finding yourself and not comparing to others. It gets hard when you are grown and get into the day-to-day drudgery of work, school. home, etc. But these 2 books have helped me realize I need to do better. And it’s a work in process, but I’m getting there.

    • Dude, you have pretty great friends if they’re giving you books like these!

  • Josh Wilson

    I’ve read “Let the Elephants Run”. Great book. It makes you really think on where you want to go and how to go about getting there. It’d be a really good book for the younger adults who are at an impasse.

  • Chad Parsons

    I bought the Happiness Equation after hearing so much about it. And wow…my perspective on everything has completely changed….for the better. Simply put, but if put into action, the results are amazing. This is one I highly recommend. Haven’t yet got the other book, but will definitely check it out.

    • Neil Pasricha

      So glad to hear it, Chad! I hid a little sub-theme to the book under the front jacket cover…

  • Jason Smith

    Sounds like a couple of books that I wouldn’t mind checking out. Thanks for sharing your experiences with them. Who can’t use a little bolster in being happier and more creative?

  • Scott Winston

    My wife is a teacher, and she loves looking to TED for her classes….the kids nowadays need inspiration in a bad way. I first heard of Neil when he did his TED speech in ’11 I believe. And when his book came out, we went out and got it. Very good read. And put in such a simple way, there’s no way you can’t achieve it in your own life. Haven’t read Let the Elephants Run but am willing to check it out. We all need to find books that will inspire us…yes, even men. There’s no wrong in admitting you’re not perfect. As long as we keep striving to better ourselves, that alone is a great achievement.

Pin It on Pinterest

Emails suck. My newsletter doesn't.

After you sign up, I'll send you a few brand new productivity posts every Monday morning.

Join 200,000 monthly readers and never miss a single thing!

You can unsubscribe at any time, and I won't do anything slimy with your email. There are no catches.