I’ve just finished reading two books, Neil Young’s biography Wage Heavy Peace and Neil Pasricha’s New York Times Bestseller from 2016, The Happiness Equation.
Both were great reads and even though they were very different books, the authors shared a common message: to be happy and successful in life, you have to do it for you.
I didn’t know much about Neil Young before I read his biography, other than he grew up in Omemee (pronounced Oh-me-me) outside of Peterborough and of course his music, since I’m a big fan.
To say he’s led an interesting, incredible life is an understatement, but I was surprised to learn of all the health challenges, personal tragedy and struggles he’s shared in his life from polio as a child, to back surgeries, grief and loss.
Throughout, music has been his inspiration, solace, escape and passion. I wasn’t aware of his other passions in life–his love of old cars, model trains and his quest to revolutionize sound by developing technology to restore the purity of records through his company Pona and interest in electric vehicles through his Lincvolt project. What an amazing guy.
Did he pursue any of these things because his record labels wanted him to, or to sell records or ingratiate himself with fans? No, he did it for himself.
Young insisted on festival seating for all his indoor shows, even though it meant less money for the band because he wanted people who were stoked to be there at the front of the stage instead of “rich folk on cell phones”, saying the feeling of the shows and experience for the band and audience was much better. He once had his manager rewrite the contracts for a tour already booked because they hadn’t included festival seating.
A writer once accused him of compiling his archives just to further his own legend “whatever that is”. He writes, “What a shallow existence that would be…” and then in classic Neil Young fashion, “it pissed me off.”
In The Happiness Equation, Parischa openly admits he was a victim of his own success early in his career, equating happiness with more book sales, speaking engagements and the number of hits on his blog.
Parischa talks about intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, saying the happiest people are driven by intrinsic motivation. They eschew the critics, the pressure to do what others want them to do, and they forge their own path. He quotes John Lennon who once famously said, “I’m not judging whether ‘I Am the Walrus’ is a better or worse than ‘Imagine’. It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don’t stand back and judge…I do.”
This week’s #HappyAct is to take it from the Neils and do it for you.