What would you do if you were a top executive at Google, an engineer, very successful and realised that you weren’t happy? Why of course, you would create an equation for happiness and then live your life according to it. You would test it to its extreme when your son died from something going wrong in a simple operation and then when you realised it worked, dedicate your life to sharing the equation.
Well that is what Mo Gawdat has done in Solve for Happy. I picked this book up because it is the February read for the Rebel Book Club and although I am not a member (yet), I want to get a feel for the books they are reading all of which are non-fiction.
Happiness = your perception of events – your expectations of how life should be
There is a lot in this book, maybe too much, but as Gawdat says throughout, pick up and use what is relevant to you. So whilst you are exhorted to bust the 6 grand illusions, fix the 7 blind spots and hang onto the 5 ultimate truths, you might not need to do it all. There are, however, some big ideas in this book which it might be worth exploring.
You are not the voice in your head
In fact, chatter box that this voice is, it is your brain talking to you. When your brain is quiet, something we all look for, you don’t cease to exist you are just you probably enjoying the silence. In fact, Gawdat argues that the famous quote from Descartes – ‘I think, therefore I am.’ should really be ‘I am, therefore I think.’ which I quite like and that what we need to do is manage the voice. Easier said than done but observing the dialogue and drama and asking for a better thought squeezes out negative thoughts.
Your fears are often unfounded
Fears can be deep and wide and can have a significant effect on your life. They can keep us locked inside a routine and losing out on experiences. It’s not easy letting go but there is a 6 step process to go through starting with admitting that you are afraid of something working to name the fear, understand the brain’s part in this fear and finally taking the leap and letting go of the fear. The process is akin to peeling an onion until you get to your core fear and then leap because what is the worst that can happen?
Be aware of the journey
Because life is the journey and living in the past or the future does not bring happiness. It’s about noticing what is happening now and being fully present with it even if it is the washing up. There is also the idea that death is inevitable on this journey no matter what we do; it is where we all end up. Accepting death can release us from all fears, allow us to live illusion-free and to realise that life is a ‘rental’. We can take nothing with us, we come into the world with nothing and so life becomes our focus. Gawdat then goes onto explain how he believes in an afterlife using the analogy of a computer game and that using probability, showing us the maths, he thinks there is a great designer at work, that the universe probably couldn’t have come into existence as we know it today without one. He does leave it up to us to agree or disagree with his theory and here he comes back to his son Ali and how he has helped him through all of this. Gawdat’s aim is to help 1 billion people to become happier.