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Happiness matters more than accomplishment


At the end of his life, Steve Wozniak won’t measure his happiness by the size of Apple’s market cap or his personal net worth.

Instead, the Apple co-founder will think about the jokes he told and the laughter he shared with family and friends — and he wants others to do the same, he told University of Colorado Boulder graduates during a commencement speech last week.

In his speech, Wozniak recounted an article he once read about ex-Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone. “He was flying around to one city to sell a company for a billion of today’s dollars, and then flying to another one … I thought, ‘Wow. To have that kind of wealth and power, would you want that when you die?'” said Wozniak, 73.

The answer was “no,” Wozniak continued: “I want to die remembering my pranks, and the fun I had, and funny jokes. I decided that that life, for me, was not about accomplishment. It was about happiness.”

A simple equation for finding happiness

Wozniak offered up a simple equation for finding happiness: “H equals S minus F,” or happiness equals smiles minus frowns. In his case, smiles often come from family, music and comedy, he said.

Wozniak’s love of comedy once got him into trouble at the very school where he spoke. In 1969, he was expelled from the University of Colorado Boulder for hacking into the university’s computer systems and sending prank messages. He later re-enrolled in college in his home state of California, before dropping out and eventually co-founding Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976.

You can find joy in other areas of life beyond family, music and comedy. The idea is simply to be aware of what makes you happy, and intentional about seeking it out. People often struggle to find happiness because they see it as a destination — if they get married or have kids or get a big promotion, they’ll finally be happy — according to social scientist and Harvard University professor Arthur C. Brooks.

Brooks calls this the “arrival fallacy, ” he told CNBC Make It last year.

“Happiness isn’t a destination; it’s a direction,” said Brooks. “The way that we get happier has somewhat to do with the things going on outside of us, but it has more to do with our inner lives.”

Finding things to be grateful for in the midst of hardship — like your loved ones or good health — can shift your brain into a more optimistic mindset and help you overcome those challenges, Wozniak added.

“Stay honest, keep smiling and pay your own successes forward,” he said.

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