Tim Ferriss's Tools of Titans: a guidebook to Success and Happiness


Today’s post is about “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss, a book that has already had profound impact on my understanding of happiness, and one which from now on I will continuously reference throughout my life. This is perhaps one of the most powerful and profound books that I have read, and it’s utility is rivaled only by that of Ryan Holiday’s “the Daily Stoic”, ironically a book which many interviewees in Tools of Titans have read and recommend.

Tools of Titans doesn’t is best consumed not in a cover-to-cover fashion but by being referenced for specific wisdom or advice, as well as read little-by-little such that the reader has time to ponder and analyze the words on the page. In this way, Tools of Titans, has become not a book that we might pickup and read over the course of several weeks every few years, but instead is a book with certain meaningful passages that we can reach out to on an as needed basis.

To that end, author Tim Ferriss, has wisely subdivided his book into 3 chapters: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise – playing off Benjamin Franklin’s maxim of early to bed and early to rise – though in reality, each of the dozens of interviewees for this book could accurately be described as healthy, wealthy, and wise. Nevertheless, Ferriss has assigned the respective interviewee to that section wherein they are considered MOST well-known, successful, or famous.

Speaking of success, I can reiterate my commonly stated belief that success and happiness are ultimately interchangeable. When we say we want success, we envision ourselves reaching the pinnacle of happiness. When we feel successful, we have realized happiness for ourselves. To that end, I believe that this book is about finding happiness, and that the 3 main sections: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, all demonstrate a foundation from which we can build up our life of success and happiness.

In his introductions, Ferriss says: “Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits.” This book is about collecting the right field-tested beliefs and habits, with Ferriss having done most of the collecting for us, by observing, studying, and speaking with some of the world’s most wholly successful individuals. Each of these individuals demonstrates success and happiness on so many levels. The point of this book is to arm each and every one of us with the wisdom and guidance to go out there and live life on our terms, finding our understanding of success. With these dozens of healthy, athletic, strong, wealthy, successful, smart, wise, kind, caring, and compassionate individuals as our guide, we find ourselves armed with all of the help we might ever need to create a successful and happy life for ourselves. The greatest and meaningful contributions of each of these incredible people live on in these pages and are readily available to us at a moments notice, as if they themselves were serving as our guide through a chaotic world, like Virgil guiding a frightened Dante through the underworld.

After recently finishing this book I am reminded of a powerful quote by Isaac Newton, not contained within these pages, but accurately representing the power of Tools of Titans. The quote is: “If I have seen farther than others it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” The obvious meaning here being that Newton, one of the world’s most brilliant minds ever, is giving credit to those who came before him, without whose discoveries he would have had no inspiration or no previous work upon which to expand upon. In the same way, Tools of Titans gives us the ability to stand on the shoulder’s of giants, those giants being the interviewees but perhaps most importantly. I would add the book gives us the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the author himself, Tim Ferris,  whom I happen to feel is one of the most influential people alive today.

The greatest takeaway from this book is that the idea that we must define success, or in my adaptation, happiness, in our own terms before we can pursue it and well before we can achieve it. If we do not know what our target is, we will not know when we have hit it.

The second important point that I noted from this book is that  we are repeatedly exposed to the idea that success and happiness, for many, begin with a healthy body. Our body is the vessel that houses our thoughts and through which we experience the world. If our body is unhealthy, our thoughts will be unhealthy, our mood will be poor, we will likely have low esteem, and negativity, illness, and unhappiness will permeate every facet of our existence. One of the best ways you can be happy is to take care of your body and your physical health.

Third takeway: that happiness and success are a state of mind, and that they are largely independent of where we are, and what we own. Happiness does not come from possessions and money. Happiness comes from confidence in yourself, understanding, compassion for yourself and others, and a contentment with the life you live. This is a state that can be achieved regardless of how much money you can make, and has been reached by poor and rich alike, just as rich and poor alike have found themselves lacking this state of happiness, with their material wealth having ultimately very little impact.

Fourth takeaway: wealth, is not measured in money but in relationships, time, a lack of worry, and most importantly freedom. By that definition, wealth should be something we all strive to acquire. Luckily for us, Tim Ferriss has shown us how here in this book.

I will close this discussion with a few quotes from the book. Perhaps my favorite, and I have tons of quotations I love here, from the entire book is “ultimately, to be properly successful is to be at peace.” Whatever your personalized concept of success is, I would wager that somewhere, either overtly or beneath the surface, it is defined by a state of peace. If not, I would ask you why not.

Lastly, a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger: “the worst thing you can do is stop learning. Never stop learning. Ever.” All the information you could ever need is out there, such is the beauty of the age of information and technology that we live in. Some of the best advice you can learn from is right here in Tim Ferris’s book. Read this book, learn from it, then get busy living, and learn from that, and repeat. Happiness awaits.

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