A guide to wealth and happiness by Naval Ravikant

I chanced upon Naval's twitter by chance many years ago. Naval Ravikant is an entrepreneur, self-taught investor, capitalist and engineer. He is widely followed for his thoughts on economics, life philosophy, fintech, startups, investing, wealth and happiness. With his guide to wealth and happiness, you can learn how to craft a happier and wealthier life.

A note on happiness - It is not a trait that we are born with. But it is a skill which we can learn. You can increase your happiness over time, and it starts with believing you can do it.

A note on wealth - Everyone vaguely knows they want to be wealthy, but they don’t have a good set of principles to do it by.

My notes below is based on Naval’s wisdom and experience from the last ten years.

Building Wealth

  • Understand how wealth is created
    • Getting rich is about knowing what to do, who to do it with and when to do it.
    • Hard work matters, and it needs to be directed in the right way
    • Figure out what you need to work on
    • You will not get rich when you rent out of your time. Own equity.
    • Returns in life (wealth, relationships and knowledge) come from compound interest
    • Learn to sell & build
    • Embrace accountability
    • Have assets that work for you while you sleep
    • Work as hard as you can. Who you work with and what you work on are important as well
    • Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true
    • Apply specific knowledge with permissionless leverage (products that work while you sleep)
  • Find and build specific knowledge
    • Something that comes to you naturally & effortlessly
      • No one can compete with you on being you
    • It will feel like play to yourself, but may be work to others
    • Focus on the thing that you are really into
    • Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your innate talents, your genuine curiously and your passion
    • Escape competition through authenticity
    • Be a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn
      • You only need to achieve mastery in one of two things - usually the things you're obsessed about
  • Play long-term games with long-term people
    • All the returns in life (wealth, relationship & knowledge) comes from compound interest
  • Take on accountability
    • Embrace accountability & take business risks under your own name
    • It allows you to take credit when things go well & bear the brunt of the failure when things go badly
    • When you put our name out there, you take a risk with certain things. You also get to reap the rewards
    • Ask what is the failure and if it is worth fearing
  • Build or buy equity in a business
    • To get passive income via ownership of a business
    • Real wealth doesn't come through the hours
  • Find a position of leverage
    • Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants you to go, you'll get paid extremely well
    • Knowledge only you or only some know is coming out of your passion and hobbies
      • If you have hobbies around your intellectual curiosity, you are more likely to develop these passions
      • If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it's a distraction. Keep looking.
    • What you want in life is to be in control of your time. You want to get into a leveraged job where you control your own time and you're tracked on the outputs
    • Find a job where the input and output are disconnected (created by tools & leverage)
    • Earn with your mind, not your time
    • Stay out of things that could cause you to lose all your capital/savings. Don't gamble everything on one go. Take rationally optimistic bets with big upsides.

You may start as a salaried employee. But you want to work your way up to get higher leverage, accountability and specific knowledge. The combination over a long period of time with the magic of compound interest will make you wealthy

  • Get paid for your judgment
    • Find a job where you are tracked on output, not input
      • By being knowledgeable about certain things and being paid for your unique knowlede
    • Demonstrated judgement that is credible, with high accountability and clear track record, is critical
  • Prioritize and focus
    • Value your time. No one will value you more than you value yourself.
    • For the younger people, spend more time making big decisions. In your early life, decide where you live, who you're with and what you do
    • You have to say no to everything & free up your time so you can solve the important problems
    • Figure out what you are good at and start helping other people with it. In the long run, you will attract what you give & project
  • Find work that feels like play
    • Be authentic, find the thing I know how to do better than anybody. I know how to do it better because I love it, and no one can compete with me. Figure out how to map that to what society wants. Apply some leverage and put my name to it. I take the risks, but gain the rewards, have ownership and equity in what I am doing.
    • The lust for money is bad as it is a bottomless pit. If you love money and you make it, there's never enough.
    • The way to break the cycle of making money to spend money is not to upgrade your lifestyle as you make money.
  • How to get lucky
    • Blind luck where one just gets lucky
    • Luck through persistence, hard work, hustle & motion. Hustle until you stumble into it
    • Be good at spotting luck. Prepare the mind and be sensitive to chances others miss
    • You build a unique character, brand and mindset which causes luck to find you. Become the best at what you do. Refine until this is true. Opportunity will seek you out. Luck becomes your destiny. Build your character in such a way that your character becomes your destiny. Show your craft, practice your craft and the right people will find you eventually
  • Be patient
    • You have to give your desired outcome a long enough timescale. It takes time and you have to put in the time. Instead of counting until success arrives, focus on being at a position with specific knowledge, accountability, leverage, skill set to be the best in the world at what you do
    • You have to enjoy the process and keep doing it. Don't keep track and keep count.
    • The only way to truly learn something is by doing it.
    • You have to do hard things to create your own meaning in life

Build judgment

  • Judgement
    • It's the wisdom applied to external problems. Wisdom means knowing the long term consequences of your actions. Together, it is knowing the long term consequences of your actions and then making the right decision to capitalise on that
    • You need to put in the hours to develop judgement and leverage
  • How to think clearly
    • Smart thinkers are clear thinkers who understand the basics at a fundamental level
    • Making effective decisions boils down to dealing with reality. Make sure you are dealing with reality when you make decisions
    • What cloud us from being able to see reality is we have preconceived notions of the way it should be
    • You suffer when you put off reality
    • You can only make progress when you are starting with the truth - embrace reality the way it actually is then you can make meaningful change and progress
    • Make time to think to make good judgement
  • Shed your identity to see reality
    • If your habits do not serve you, you need to let go of them. Uncondition yourself.
    • Discard memory and identity and focus on solving the problems
  • Learn the skills of decision-making
    • Optimize for the long term instead of the short term
    • Someone who makes the right decisions will be compensated more
    • If you can be more right and rational, you will get non-linear returns in your life
    • The more you know, the less you diversify
    • Use mental models to recall your own knowledge
    • If you can't decide, the answer is no
    • It's extremely important to only say yes to things that you are going to be very certain
    • If you have 2 relatively equal choices to make, take the path more difficult and painful in the short term. You want to lean into things with short-term pain, but long term gain
  • Learn to love to read
    • The better the book, the more slowly it should be absorbed         
    • To think clearly, understand the basics. If you are memorising advanced concepts without being able to re-derive them as needed, you're lost
    • Note what you internalise and what you read. Quality content via books over social media.                                                  


Pursue health, happiness and wealth in this order

  • Happiness is learned
    • Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life. It should be a default state
    • It is the state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind will stop running into the past or future to regret something or to plan something
    • It is not about positive thoughts or negative thoughts. Its the absence of desire (especially for external things). The fewer desires you have, the more you can accept the current state of things. And your mind is not moving so much and trying to attach to something. The most present you are, the happier and more contented you will feel
    • It is embracing the present moment, reality of what is, the way it is. Not thinking too much about the future or the past.
    • You may have to go through suffering to enjoy what you have now. Only when you go through the negative, you will appreciate the positive
  • Happiness is a choice
    • Everything is perfect exactly the way it is. It is only in our minds that we are happy or unhappy. And things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire.
      • Reality is neutral and has no judgements. How you choose to interpret what you face is up to you. That's why happiness is a choice you make and a skill you developed. When you believe it's a choice, you can start working on it.
      • There re no external forces affecting your emotions - as much as it may feel that way
      • Believe in the complete and utter insignificance of the self helps
      • Have no expectation for hoe life should "actually" be. Life is just the way it is. When you accept that, you have no cause to be happy or unhappy. Those things almost don't apply
      • Nothing should conform to your desires. If it doesn't conform to your desires, something is wrong
      • Children are generally happy as they are immersed in their environment and the moment. without any thought of how it should be given their personal preferences and desires. One can be happy as long as one isn't too caught up in their own head
      • We should make the most of every minute - time on this planet is finite. It's your responsibility to make sure you're happy and interpreting everything in the best possible way
      • We think of ourselves as fixed and the world as malleable, but it's really we who are malleable and the world is largely fixed
      • Real happiness comes as a side-effect of peace. Most of it is going to come from acceptance, not from changing your external environment

A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control

  • Happiness requires presence
    • Living in the past or future keeps you from seeing the beauty in everything and be grateful for where you are
    • A lot of our unhappiness comes from comparing things from the past to the present
    • Anticipation for our vices pulls us into the guru. Eliminating vices makes it easier to be present
  • Happiness requires peace
    • A happy person isn't someone who is happy all the time. It's someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don't lose their inner peace
    • Happiness is more about peace, than joy
    • Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion. You can covert peace into happiness anytime you want. But peace is what you want most of the time. If you're a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity
  • Every desire is a chosen unhappiness
    • Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want
      • Choose your desires wisely
      • It's more important to perfect your desires than try to do something you don't 100% desire
    • Don't let external circumstances be the reason for your happiness
    • A fundamental delusion is where you think there is something out there that will make you feel happy, fulfilled and bring you peace, joy and happiness you deserve
  • Success does not earn happiness
    • Happiness is being satisfied with what you have
    • Happiness is internal. Working more on your internal self and realising all real success is internal and has very little to do with external circumstances
    • Making more or less compared to the next person should have no effect on your mental state
    • "All of man's troubles arise because he can't sit in a room quietly by himself"
    • If you are peaceful inside and out, that will result in happiness eventually. As such, happiness is an outcome of peace
      • But peace is not a guarantee. It's always flowing and changing. You want to learn the core skill set of flowing with life and accepting it in most cases
    • You can get almost anything you want out of life, as long as it's one thing and you want it far more than anything else
  • Envy is the enemy of happiness
    • Is life that hard, or you make it hard?
    • The word "should" is problematic. When it creeps up in your mind, it's guilt or social programming. Doing something because you "should" means you don't actually want to do it. It will make you miserable.
    • The enemy of peace of mind is expectations drilled into you by society and other people
    • Life is a single-player game (you born and die alone). All your interpretations are alone. Dun be misled into being a part of an external multiplayer competitive game
      • Training yourself to be happy is completely internal. There is no external progress or validation. You're competing against yourself. It is a single-plater game
    • Jealousy is a poisonous emotion. About the people you are jealous of, you couldn't just choose specific aspects of their life. If you are not willing to do a 100% swap with that person, there is no point being jealous
      • Then when you don't want to be anybody else, you will be perfectly happy being yourself. So jealousy will fade away.
  • Happiness is built by habits
    • Peace and happiness are skills you can learn. It starts with believing that you can do it. When you put your intention and focus on it, you will be in a better place
      • Choose to be happy, then work on it
    • Replace your thoughtless bad habits with good ones, making a commitment to be a happier person. Watch what you consume on social media
    • Choose who you hang out with carefully
    • Don't take what you have for granted
    • The more you judge, the more you separate yourself. You will feel good about yourself for an instant as you think you're better than someone. But you will feel lonely and see negativity everywhere. The world just reflects your own feelings back at you
    • How to change a habit
      • Pick one thing. Cultivate a desire. Visualise it.
      • Plan a sustainable path.
      • Identify needs, triggers and substitutes
      • Track meticulously
      • Self-discipline is a bridge to a new self-image
      • Bake in the new self-image. It's the new you.
  • Find happiness in acceptance
    • In any situation in life, you always have 3 choices: you can change it, accept it or leave it
      • If you want to change it, then it is a desire. It will cause you suffering until you successfully change it
      • Pick one big desire in your life at any given time to give yourself purpose and motivation
        • Focus on 1 to minimize distraction
    • Being peaceful comes from having your mind clear of thoughts. A lot of clarity comes from being in the present moment. It's very hard to be in the present moment if you're thinking, "I need to do this. I want that"
    • A note on acceptance
      • Being okay whatever the outcome is.
      • To be balanced and centred
      • To step ack and see the grander scheme of things
      • We don't always get what we want, but sometimes what is happening is for the best. The sooner you can accept it as reality, the sooner you can adapt to it
      • One hack is stepping back and looking at previous bits of suffering you had and write them down. Trace the growth & improvement that came from it
      • Mentally ask yourself what is the positive of this situation when you experience something "unpleasant". Check what the Universe is going to reach you and learn
      • How to accept things you can't change - know what you are here for a finite period. So all that matters is you experience your reality as you go through life. Why not interpret it in the most positive possible way
        • None of your battles are going to matter eventually. So enjoy yourself. Do something positive. Project some love. Laugh. Appreciate the moment. Do your work.

Saving yourself

  • Choosing to be yourself
    • Be yourself, with passionate intensity
      • Do what you want to do and should really do. Listen to the voice in your head.
      • No one can beat you at being you. Each person is uniquely good at something. While you should listen and absorb the good qualities of others, don't try to emulate
      • Find the people, business, project or art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you. What you don't want to do is build checklists and decision frameworks on what others are doing
      • To make an original contribution, you have to be irrationally obsessed with something
  • Choosing to care for yourself
    • Order of importance: Physical health > Mental/Spiritual health > Happiness > Family > Work
    • A note on diet
      • Combination of sugar and fat is deadly, sugar effect dominates the fat effect
      • Eat lesser carbs. Control your appetite.
      • Focus more on what you eat, then manage your portion control
    • Like everything in life, if you are willing to make short-term sacrifices, you'll have the long term benefit
      • Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life
  • Meditation + mental strength
    • Relax your breathing
    • Most of our suffering comes from avoidance
    • Meditation is intermittent fasting for the mind. Too much sugar leads to a heavy body, and too many distractions lead to a heavy mind. Time spent undistracted and alone, in self-examination, journaling, meditation resolves the unresolved and takes us from mentally fat to fit
    • A note of choiceless awareness/ nonjudgemental awareness
      • As you are going about your day, practice learning to accept the moment you're in without making judgements
      • You don't make any decisions, don't judge anything. You just accept everything. You will end up in a peaceful and grateful state.
      • Meditate to quiet your mind. When your mind quiets, you stop taking everything around you for granted. Start to notice the details.
    • The ability to singularly focus is related to the ability to lose yourself and be present, happy and more effective
    • Be in a state where you will be calm, peaceful, happy and content
  • Choosing to build yourself
    • You have the ability to change yourself
    • How you choose to interpret your experiences is up to you
    • Impatience with actions, patience with results
      • Anything you have to do, just get it done while giving your full attention.
  • Choosing to grow yourself
    • Set up systems to achieve your goals
    • Use your judgement to figure out what kind of environments you can thrive in, then create an environment around you so you're likely to succeed statistically
    • You need to do the internal work to be happier, better off, more present and in control of your emotions.
  • Choosing to free yourself
    • The hardest thing is knowing what you want
    • Value your time
    • There's different definition of freedom
      • Freedom to do anything you want/to do what you like
      • Internal freedom: freedom from reaction/ from feeling angry/from feeling sad/from expectations
      • Freedom from anger: anger is a loss of control over the situation, where you are in a physical, emotional and mental turmoil until reality changes
      • Freedom from employment: people who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that those who keep upgrading your lifestyle won't
      • Freedom from uncontrolled thinking: the mind should be a servant and tool, not a master


  • Live by your values
    • Be honest yourself and your dealings
    • All benefits in life comes from compound interest (money, relationships, love, health, activities or habits)
    • Work on things with long-term payout
    • Be around people that are good for you
    • Wisdom is understanding the long term consequences of your actions

Life formulas

Algorithms for success

  • Happiness = health + wealth + good relationships
  • Health = exercise + diet + sleep
  • Diet = natural food + intermittent fasting + plants
  • Sleep = no alarm + 8-9 hours
  • Wealth = Income + wealth * (return on investment)
  • Income = accountability + leverage + specific knowledge
  • Accountability = personal branding + personal platform + taking risk?
  • Leverage = capital + people + intellectual property
  • Specific knowledge = knowing how to do something society cannot yet easily train other people to do
  • Return on investment = "buy & hold" + valuation + margin of safety


  • Be present above all else
  • Desire is a suffering
  • Anger is a hot coal you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else. It's self destructive.
  • All real benefits in life come from compound interest
  • Earn with your mind, not with your time
  • Do 20% of the things that produce 80% of the results
  • Watch every thought
  • All greatness comes from suffering
  • Love is given, not received
  • Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts

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