Neil Pasricha’s “Do Circle”: Happiness and writing

In his book The Happiness Equation, Neil Pasricha writes about the linear way most of us approach a new task: We can do it; we want to do it; so we do it.

Pasricha argues that removing logic from this line can make us happier. After all, if we only do things we already know we can do, how can we explore or grow?

Neil Pasricha's "Do Circle"

illustration by Neil Pasricha from The Happiness Equation

So he takes the same elements but arranges them in a circle. “Do” sits at the 12 o’clock position, so it seems a logical starting place. By doing, we learn that we “Can Do” and so we “Want to Do” this new thing even more. And so the cycle repeats. But really, you can start anywhere and end anywhere. Or not end at all. It’s up to you.

Accomplishment generates happiness. More doing = more happiness. And who can argue with that outcome?

Neil Pasricha’s “Do Circle” and Writing

So you want to write something? Pasricha describes the linear-thinking approach to the task:

“Want to write a book? I’ll take a writing course to learn how. Then I’ll find the perfect coffee shop to get inspired. Then I’ll write a masterpiece.”

Um, no.

I mean, yes, you can study—you should study writing. But don’t wait for someone to certify you as a “good writer” before you start writing. And by all means go to the coffee shop when you need a freshly ground espresso. But don’t fetishize your workplace.

I remember reading about one author—I wish I could remember her name—who wrote her first novel on her toddler’s bed, barricaded in his room, during the hours he thought she was at work. As I recall, she and the nanny had worked out a good-bye ritual for the kid to send her off to her job, then the nanny distracted him in the laundry room while mom sneaked back inside the apartment.

That woman was a writer. She had a story to tell. She would have written her novel standing up in a closet if she had to. I hope she had a good chiropractor.

And if you’re a member of LinkedIn, check out this piece by Olivia Barrow, called

“The hidden spots where top writers do their best work: in the pool, on the lawn mower, or while waiting for a bathroom”

So how do you become a writer—whether or not you have (or need) a nanny or a lawnmower? You write. Here’s Neil Pasricha again:

“Write one page. Even if it sucks. The fact you did it will convince you that you can do it. Then you’ll want to do it! Why? Because we love doing things that confirm our belief that we’re able to do them.”

Confirm your belief: Write

Start writing. Right now. Just pull up a document and write for five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Don’t worry about whether it’s any good; just do it.

  • mindset
  • writing