The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success

International Edition:

The Happy Student Book Cover


Asian Edition:

The Happy Student Asian Edition

Are you a happy, motivated student? Or do you drag yourself to school every morning?

In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong describes the five key steps you need to take in order to become a happy, fulfilled, and successful student. Daniel scored straight A’s all through college and received numerous academic honors and awards, but he didn’t find fulfillment in his achievements until he discovered the five steps.

Daniel draws on his personal journey—from unhappy overachiever to happy straight-A student—to guide you through your own transformational process.

If you’re a student who has begun to question what the true purpose of education is, The Happy Student will lead you to the right answer.

If you’re a teacher or parent, you’ll find inspirational ideas in The Happy Student to help your students become intrinsically motivated.

Note: There are two editions of the book, the International Edition and the Asian Edition. The content is 99% the same, but there are certain words and phrases that I use in the Asian Edition that an Asian audience would be more familiar with.

So if you live in Asia, I recommend that you get the Asian Edition. If you live outside of Asia, get the International Edition.


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“You must become purpose-driven rather than performance-driven,” says Daniel. “You must ask the ‘why’ questions before you ask the ‘how’ questions. You must learn how to climb the ladder more effectively, but only after you’ve made sure that the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

In The Happy Student, Daniel shows you how to:

  • Enjoy a new sense of purpose in your academics
  • Keep your motivation levels high using practical strategies
  • Conquer your fear of failure
  • Set meaningful goals and achieve them
  • Increase your self-confidence
  • Deal with the expectations of parents and teachers
  • Fall in love with learning again

Don’t leave your happiness to chance. The Happy Student can make the difference between frustration and fulfillment in your academics.


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Here’s what people have been saying about The Happy Student:





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“Education is a lifelong journey, one that definitely doesn’t end when you receive your high school diploma or college degree. If you take what Daniel says to heart, you’ll discover that education is an adventure that’s full of challenges and excitement. Listen to his advice – your happiness as a student and lifelong learner depends on it.” – Sue Wasiolek, Ed.D., Co-author, “Getting the Best Out of College”

“Daniel Wong has written an essential guide for all students, and he has done it with clarity and conviction. The Happy Student is simultaneously philosophical and practical. Daniel poses philosophical questions such as ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I want to be?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ As a reader, your response to these questions forms the foundation of your personal fulfillment and happiness. At the same time, Daniel offers many practical tips that are simple-to-follow. He describes, in detail, a step-by-step program that will allow you to find success and happiness. In addition, he suggests thirty practical tips to stay continually motivated, and ten ways to enter the state of ‘flow.’ The Happy Student will serve as an invaluable guide for students of all ages, especially teenagers and university students.” – Helen Choo, Principal, Tampines Junior College

“I’m going to encourage all my students to read The Happy Student! If you follow Daniel’s advice, your quality of life as a student is sure to improve. Daniel aims to help students find intrinsic motivation in their academic pursuits. It often seems like we don’t care about whether students are intrinsically motivated or not – we just care that they get good grades. But Daniel understands that intrinsic motivation is vital if you want to be truly successful, not just in your academics, but in life, too. In The Happy Student, Daniel teaches you the principles and strategies that will enable you to find academic success and fulfillment. High school and college students – and their parents and teachers too – will benefit from reading The Happy Student. In fact, anyone who wants to be both happy and successful will gain a lot by taking Daniel’s advice to heart.” – Walter N. Simmons, Engineering Professor and Inventor

The Happy Student provides a wonderful tool-kit for students of all ages who want to find real fulfillment in their personal and academic pursuits. As an education professional who has worked with ambitious high school and college students in the United States and abroad for more than ten years, I believe that Daniel Wong has vividly and accurately analyzed the phenomenon of ‘collecting’ achievements in the blind pursuit of success. Daniel uses playful analogies, reflective questions, and practical tips to help readers unpack their experiences in a meaningful and intentional way. I love that his writing style is so accessible to all readers, regardless of what life stage they are in. Daniel presents the building blocks that will enable readers to become more self-aware and reflective, and to take concrete action. I look forward to sharing The Happy Student with young people everywhere as they develop their plans for their academic, professional, and personal journeys.” – Cloe Liparini M.A., Assistant Director for Training and Student Development DukeEngage, Duke University

“One of the best things about being a professor is learning from your students. While reading The Happy Student, I learned from Daniel Wong, a young man who took my accounting class during his final year at Duke. Everyone yearns for happiness, success, and fulfillment, but these things often seem elusive. In The Happy Student, Daniel shows you the steps you need to take in order to simultaneously achieve them. The Happy Student will inspire, challenge, and encourage you to embrace the deeper meaning of education. Daniel has taken an honest and introspective look at education from a student’s perspective. He has developed a meaningful road map for high school and college students who want to find real fulfillment in their academics and beyond. The Happy Student is insightful reading for students AND their parents!” – C.J. Skender, Accounting Professor and Co-author of “Financial Accounting”

“I had the privilege of teaching Daniel Wong when he was a student at Victoria Junior College eight years ago, and he is still by far the best student I have ever taught. Not only was Daniel a top student, he was also an excellent athlete and an inspiring student leader. Despite his extremely impressive all-round achievements, Daniel remains a down-to-earth person who genuinely cares about others. He is also very passionate about helping people and inspiring them to lead a values- and purpose-driven life. I have utmost respect for his strong passion for life and for people. In The Happy Student, Daniel shares his personal story candidly – how he had felt unfulfilled and worn out during the early stages of his academic career, despite the fact that he was living the ‘perfect life’ as a student. His intense life, filled with meaningless striving, caused him to reflect deeply on the path he was on. Through his reflections, Daniel discovered the keys to academic fulfillment and success. In this book, Daniel shares with readers the five steps that transformed him from an unhappy overachiever to someone who runs his own race confidently – with clear focus, purpose, and motivation. The Happy Student is a sincere and heartfelt book written by a great, promising young man who cares enough to want to help students – and even adults – find true fulfillment and happiness, beyond what achievements have to offer. A great read indeed!” – Koh Lip Kang, Head of Department at an Integrated Programme School in Singapore


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“These are tough times for students, and they’re only getting tougher. That’s why a book like this – packed with wisdom, encouragement, and sound advice – will go a long way in lightening the load of today’s students. As an educator, I’m impressed with Daniel’s insightful perspective on the pursuit of academic success. Through reading this book, I’ve learned how to help my own students become truly happy. I would recommend The Happy Student to all educators. We all need to be reminded about how we can enable our students to find real success.” – Kenneth Tan, High School Teacher and Head of Department

“We often read stories of happy and successful men and women who, in their pursuit of happiness, have had to turn their lives upside down. They have abandoned their Ivy League educations midway, walked away from their stable careers, or coughed up their last penny for the sake of their dreams. So what I appreciate most about The Happy Student is that it works on the premise that happiness can in fact be found within our current life circumstances. In the book, Daniel exhorts us to disentangle ourselves from the hollow pursuit of academic success and material wealth; he urges us to evaluate what race we ought to be running instead, and to use that newfound awareness to re-order the key facets of our lives in a practical and holistic way. Daniel points us not toward empty achievements but to the kind of success that we will find deeply personal and profoundly meaningful. He directs us away from senselessly pleasing the masses to becoming someone that we ourselves can truly be proud of.” – Clarissa Chng, Corporate Trainer

“I have mentored scholars for more than a decade, and obviously they are all intelligent. However, Daniel stands out among them as one who is both intelligent and wise. His wisdom can clearly be seen in The Happy Student. Read this book to embark on your own journey of finding deep fulfillment and meaning in life.” – Tan Hee Guan, Director, Kingmaker Consultancy Pte Ltd

“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong provides a refreshing change of focus for young people. His message: rather than simply jumping through hoops, you can choose to focus on a vision for yourself and your future. Daniel helps students bring together their goals, strengths, and values, crafting a life plan that will be meaningful and personally satisfying. While the questions and issues he raises are directed toward teenagers and young adults, his message resonates with all age groups.” – Susan Sykes, Educational Consultant

The Happy Student is a must-read for teachers who, like me, are just starting out. Having just stepped into the arena of education, these teachers are idealistic: they want nothing more than to impact, challenge, and motivate their students. In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong shows teachers that they can be both idealistic and pragmatic. Daniel describes practical strategies that will help teachers to help their students achieve academic success. He also extends a steadfast reminder about the joy of learning. After reading The Happy Student, I’ve decided that I’ll never rob my students of that joy! Most importantly, Daniel addresses the obsession that many students have with grades. He explains how students can find intrinsic value in learning, rather than merely focusing on achievements. The Happy Student offers a golden perspective on the true worth of education.” – Charmaine Tay, High School English and History Teacher

“In this meticulously reasoned work, Daniel Wong challenges students – and non-students too – to seize control of their lives and their happiness. He provides a solid five-step program that will prevent you from running someone else’s race and striving for someone else’s goals. By sharing with readers his experiences, Daniel advocates effectively for defining and pursuing your own individualized course toward success and personal fulfillment.” – Katie Barzee, Environmental Advocate and Recent College Graduate


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The Happy Student is the sort of book you think you’ve seen before but actually haven’t. It is, above all, truly written by a student for other students. Plenty of other books preach concepts that seem (and can actually be) impractical, so it was surprising – even to myself – how easily some of the ideas Daniel Wong presents could be applied to my own life. Just to give an example, I chose to adopt the idea of writing with a nicer pen (this is a tip Daniel talks about in the final chapter), and I found that my work productivity greatly improved. I’m not sure if this was a direct result of having a new pen, or if there were psychological factors at work. All I know is that this is one of many practical and effective techniques that Daniel suggests in The Happy Student. I truly enjoyed every page of this book.” – Brandon Yap, High School Student

“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong explains that his wish to help and empower others is a motivating factor in every action he takes; his debut as an author is clearly aligned with this life philosophy. Daniel’s advice for frustrated, stressed-out, and overwhelmed students is concrete and easy to apply, but this alone isn’t what makes The Happy Student so helpful to students seeking fulfillment. Rather, it is Daniel’s genuine voice and uninhibited passion for his subject matter that will inspire his readers. Daniel understands that happiness often precedes success, not the other way around. The Happy Student will help readers embrace Daniel’s unique vision.” – Allison LeCavalier, College Student

“While most education-related books focus solely on the outcome, The Happy Student continually re-visits the importance of the journey. If you’re a student, or even if you’re a young person who’s just entering the workforce, Daniel’s advice will help you find fulfillment beyond just building a great résumé. In a humble and conversational style, Daniel shows you that setting goals and determining your core values are not simply means to achievement but rather crucial steps toward finding lifelong happiness.” – Nick Valilis, Pre-med College Student

“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong shows you how to maximize your potential as a student using practical strategies. Daniel encourages readers to have an intentional approach toward learning, and to take full responsibility for their own education. If you participate actively in the five-step program Daniel has developed, you’ll find that – by the end of the program – your attitude toward education has changed completely. You’ll discover that education is about much more than trying to get good grades. It’s about cultivating a love for learning and for life, and about becoming a person of character. After reading The Happy Student, both students and parents will understand how to set goals that are in line with their core values. The Happy Student is a book I wish I’d read before going to college! I’ll definitely encourage my friends and family to read it. This might sound strange, but reading The Happy Student has been a truly enlightening experience for me. I’m deeply thankful to Daniel for having the courage to write this book. He has the extraordinary ability to inspire, encourage, and motivate through his writing.” – Moon Limb, Recent College Graduate

“In this book, Daniel Wong has captured not only the essence of how to be a happy student, but also how to be a happy person in general. We’ve all been students at some point in our lives and – in a sense – we’ll always remain students, because we’re constantly learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge. Everyone will be able to relate to The Happy Student, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, especially high school and college students.” – Quek Hwi Jong, Entrepreneur and Recent College Graduate

“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong talks about the many students who are running the race that others want them to run, instead of their own race. I was one of those students. As I frantically pursued one academic accolade after another, I seemed to drift further away from contentment, satisfaction, and a deeper sense of purpose. If you’re a student who has faced this dilemma before, this book is for you. Daniel helps readers to see that education is meant to be deeply meaningful. He shows readers that, with the right strategies and mindset, they can achieve great things while also attaining great personal fulfillment. Daniel tackles head-on many of the hardest challenges today’s students face. He offers concrete tools to tackle these challenges with clarity, poise, and commitment. From my experiences in many different academic settings, the students who confront these challenges bravely and effectively are the ones who best position themselves for future success. They’re also the students who have the most fun. The Happy Student is both incisive and highly readable. It incorporates a wide breath of scholarship and is written in an easily accessible style. This is one book you simply must read if you’re a student – especially if you’re an ambitious go- getter. I can offer no stronger endorsement for The Happy Student than my pledge to give it to every student in my life whom I care deeply about.” – Avishek Panth, Nuclear Engineer and Recent College Graduate


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The Happy Student is the perfect book for anyone who has felt trapped in their journey to success. Daniel Wong uses great analogies, heart-felt anecdotes, and vivid descriptions to communicate important principles and practical advice to any student who wishes to find fulfillment in life.” – Catalina Hidalgo, Teach For America Corps Member

“Daniel’s enthusiasm for life is inspiring, and his dedication to helping students find meaning in the pursuit of academic success is admirable. A culmination of his varied life experiences and thoughtful reflections, this is an important book for high school and college students, as well as recent college graduates, to read – especially those who wonder if there’s more to life than chasing after achievements.” – Eugene Luah, Recent Law School Graduate

“I met Daniel Wong in college. Even after having known him for four years, Daniel’s excellence and motivation remained somewhat of a mystery to me. In The Happy Student, Daniel lets all of his secrets out. Not only does he include many of his own experiences to enrich the material, but he’s also able to integrate the works of today’s most renowned authors with the age-old wisdom of people like Mark Twain and Maya Angelou to formulate an effective five-step program that will lead you to find fulfillment both inside and outside the classroom. The Happy Student is a wonderful resource for any student who wants to make the most out of his or her education.” – Brian Solomon, Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student and Entrepreneur

The Happy Student is great for students, but it’s also suitable for people who have already completed their formal education. Daniel introduces effective strategies to help you find meaning in the pursuit of scholastic achievement. These strategies are even applicable outside the realm of academics! They will help you discover the joy of learning and develop a strong sense of purpose. The Happy Student will ultimately lead you to greater personal achievement and satisfaction.” – Norman Gottron, Process Development Engineer and Recent College Graduate

“Many students learn to study effectively, but ironically they lose their love for learning in the process. Daniel Wong addresses this problem in The Happy Student. It took me many years to discover a fraction of the insights revealed in this book. It is amazing that Daniel has managed to condense so much wisdom and practical advice in one book! The Happy Student is both incisive and engaging. It is a must-read for every less-than-happy student who is used to running somebody else’s race instead of his or her own. This book will teach students how to perform well academically and be happy at the same time.” – Poh Yeang Cherng, Cyber Wellness Expert & Trainer


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