Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man and How to Be Alive, divulges the one thing that the majority of happy, successful people have in common

Colin Beavan—a.k.a. No Impact Man—first appeared before a PSFK audience to talk about his year of living, along with his family, while making zero impact on the environment. Since then, he’s dedicated his career to helping others find paths to a meaningful life. He took the stage at PSFK 2017 to discuss this goal and his most recent book, How to Be Alive.

Beavan opened his talk with a question for the audience: How many of us exchanged niceties with the strangers seated around us when we arrived? The response, as might be expected, was paltry. With this simple example, Beavan proved an essential point: “That, by the way, is not how to be alive!”

Here are some key takeaways:

The secret recipe for happiness is not what you think

Our culture tells us to seek three things for a happy life: the right career, the right romantic relationship and the right stuff (including a home, etc.). The problem, Beavan points out, is that these three things are increasingly difficult to obtain—and it’s also not true that they will make you happy. In studying successful, contented people from all walks of life, Beavan discovered that the one thing that unites them all is having a tight-knit network of friends.

The best friends are friends with you and with each other

Beavan stresses the importance of having friends that are not only friends with you, but also with each other. You don’t want to be at the center of a wheel with spokes leading out in all directions, never to connect. The strongest friend groups contain six to 12 people who meet up regularly all together.

Colin Beavan

Colin Beavan—a.k.a. No Impact Man—first appeared before a PSFK audience to talk about his year of living, along with his family, while making zero impact on the environment. Since then, he’s dedicated his career to helping others find paths to a meaningful life. He took the stage at PSFK 2017 to discuss this goal and his most recent book, How to Be Alive.

Beavan opened his talk with a question for the audience: How many of us exchanged niceties with the strangers seated around us when we arrived? The response, as might be expected, was paltry. With this simple example, Beavan proved an essential point: “That, by the way, is not how to be alive!”