By Ted Leonsis
The cliché is that money can’t buy happiness, and I know that to be true. As a young entrepreneur who sold an early New Media company for a lot of money, I was very wealthy at a young age. An emergency landing in an airplane I believed was going crash forced me to evaluate my life, and I had to face facts: If I died then, I wouldn’t die happy.
It was the most important discovery of my life. The moment I got off that plane, with shaking knees and a queasy stomach, I resolved to pursue happiness and live my life without regret. And so I have done for the past 25 years. Along the way, I’ve learned some things, which I explain in The Business of Happiness, which was published in February.
I called my book The Business of Happiness because I believe that happiness can be achieved by approaching it with the same degree of discipline and rigor that’s needed to build a successful business. I’m also convinced that the people who approach happiness in this manner increase the odds that they’ll be successful. Money buys happiness? Not necessarily, as I found out. Working toward happiness makes you more successful in achieving your business and career goals? Yes, I truly believe that.
Along the way, I’ve learned that there aren’t only happy people; there are happy businesses and companies. Some of the same rules apply to institutions as individuals. An enterprise that actively seeks to create happiness for the customers it serves, as well as its employees, partners, and yes, of course, its shareholders – a business that in its multidimensional ambitions for fulfillment has an outlook similar to many of the happy people I have known and studied – is more likely to be successful than one that doesn’t care about the happiness it creates, or over-indexes entirely in favor of shareholders at the expense of everyone else.
There is, I believe, a “double bottom line” that is made up of fiscal results and positive impact on people and society. I believe that by pursuing happiness, people and businesses alike increase the odds that they will be successful in achieving their broadest goals. This concept of the “double bottom line” is now the overriding pursuit of all my business interests.
The time I’ve invested in studying happiness and success has led me to conclude that individuals should treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business – with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach and metrics to measure your progress. It is also my observation that the happiest and most successful people live by six common practices or tenets.
It took me a quarter of a century to connect these dots and understand how they amount to a formula for achieving happiness. I urge you not to take as long as I did to discover how becoming a happier person will make you a more successful person.
Ted Leonsis is the former vice chairman of AOL, and is the owner of the Washington Capitals NHL team, and an entrepreneur, film producer, and philanthropist. This piece is excerpted from The Business of Happiness by Ted Leonsis with John Buckley.