Apple co-founder: laughter, not money, is the key to happiness

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Anna Brech
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He’s the US computer mogul with an estimated net worth of $100 million (£78 million), but Steve Wozniak believes happiness has nothing to do with money.

Engineer and programmer Wozniak co-founded Apple, along with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, in a phenomenally successful venture that stratosphered from brainstorms in Jobs’ garage to global domination of the tech market.

And Wozniak’s formula for contentedness harks back to those early days of the business, before fame and fortune beckoned.

“’Smiles minus frowns’ was my original formula when I was about 20 years old,” the entrepreneur tells CNBC this week, when questioned about the key to happiness.

This involves creating opportunities for happiness wherever you go in life, he explains, and maximising opportunities for entertainment. 

“Create jokes, create humour everywhere you go,” he says. “Pranks are created jokes, for example.”

Jobs and Wozniak used to play a lot of pranks back in the day, including one where the latter rang up the Vatican and pretended to be then secretary of state Henry Kissinger calling on behalf of President Richard Nixon.

“That keeps you happy,” Wozniak says.

The other part of Wozniak’s recipe for happiness – avoiding frowns – involves being resilient in the face of challenges.

“Don't be bothered when things don't go your way,” he says. “Just think out how to be constructive… don't waste your time blaming people and being all upset, because those feelings destroy your psychology.”

Wozniak’s assertion about humour being central to happiness is backed up by science.

Multiple studies have shown that laughter – even when it’s fake - reduces stress levels, enhances mood and reduces pain, due to a rush of endorphins in the brain.

Meanwhile, the impact of money on happiness is at best negligible. Of course, poverty can foster unhappiness. But wealthier countries don’t tend to be happier, while life satisfaction increases alongside income only up to a point. Additionally, wealth doesn’t necessarily improve emotional wellbeing and consumerism can make us miserable.

So, if you’re not as rich as Wozniak, fear not. As long as you carry on laughing, you’ll be a-OK...

Images: Rex/iStock


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.