Monday, June 22, 2015

Visualizing emotional equations with PowerPoint or flipcharts

One of the ways adults think about and deal with their emotions is by naming what they are feeling. As Yoda said in The Empire Strikes Back,

“Named must your fear be before vanish it you can.”

Back in February 2012 I read a book review post on Bob Sutton’s blog titled Chip Conley’s Emotional Equations: A Leadership Self-help Book You Will Love (Even If You Hate Self Help Books). Rather curiously the U.S. version of Chip’s Emotional Equations book is subtitled Simple truths for creating happiness + success while the UK version is subtitled Simple formulas to help your life work better. Chip has explained his ideas in a two-minute book trailer and an 18-minute talk at Stanford.

Last month I finally borrowed a copy of Emotional Equations and began to skim through it. Chip listed a bunch of equations that describe relationships between emotions. But I was surprised to find how much less visual his thinking style was than mine. Chip just wrote out those equations as words. I’m a fan of Jessica Hagy’s Indexed cartoons, so I was expecting to see some schematic x-y charts or Venn diagrams. So, I opened up PowerPoint and tried making some simple charts for Chip’s equations that involve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (You also could draw them as flip charts).


The easiest sort of equation to visualize is one like:

Curiosity =  Wonder + Awe

This positive statement can be shown by adding a couple of line segments and three brackets:

There also are negative statements like:

Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility


Remorse = Regret + Guilt

which can be put together to produce:


A negative statement like:

Despair = Suffering - Meaning

also can be shown using line segments and brackets:

Chip said that once he realized that suffering was the constant and meaning was the variable, he could put his attention on the meaning, grow that, and reduce the despair.


The positive equation:

Authenticity = Self-Awareness x Courage

can be expressed by showing Authenticity as a rectangular area:



A positive equation like:

Happiness = (Wanting what you have)/(Having what you want) 

can be expressed by showing a quotient of two areas:


I’m not sure how to express this one, or even if it makes good sense:

I think these little PowerPoint charts help describe his equations. What do you think?

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