This book has both a spiritual and a scientific angle. If you are at all genuinely interested in self-help and knowing how to be happy despite seemingly unhappy events around you, Solve for Happy may be the key to contentment for you.
Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat reviewed by Celine
Publisher: North Star Way, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Date of publication: 2017
Genres: Non-fiction, spiritual, philosophy, self-help
I just finished reading this book and really enjoyed it. This book is written by a former Chief Business Officer of Google in a very clear, logical and interesting manner. The thing is with self-help books, we readers are at different “stages” or from different experiences when reading them and so one person may say that this book did not help them much or that Mo did not tell them anything that they didn’t already know … BUT the purpose of a book review is to elicit what content is provided against the purpose or theme as put forward by the book author.
Expect = to regard something as likely to happen
Within 14 chapters, Mo Gawdat leads the reader on a detailed and gripping journey through:
- Setting up the Happiness Equation
- Grand Illusions
- Blind Spots &
- Ultimate Truths
Given that some may say that these are only this author’s opinions or perspectives, the author is quite happy to agree to disagree; as he alludes to in his last chapter. In fact I find Mo Gawdat comes across as a very humble person, and I find his explanations are clear, intelligent and rational.
If we see through the grand illusions (for example, the concept of “time”) and get over our blind spots (making up the truth when it isn’t true) to peacefully accept and live the ultimate truths (which you will find out when you read the book) it will be easier for your expectations to be realistic and to be met, which is the the foundation or the premise of the Happiness Equation.
Expectations = What really happens = Happiness
Now while the above statement may seem too simple or be brushed away as “duh I know that”, it is really quite profound if this is new to you, with the qualification that of course “good” comes before the word ‘Expectations”. In other words, when you have good realistic expectations and they are met, then that lends to happiness.
It is when your expectations may very well be possible, but may not be all that likely or are highly unlikely, that they are not met, resulting in disappointment – for example “I expect to win a million dollars in the Lotto” would be a classic example NOT from Mo’s book, but from me the reviewer, in trying to describe Mo’s philosophy.
How about “I would love to win a million dollars in the Lotto’ or even “I expect that I have a chance to win the first division prize in tonight’s Lotto” which is realistic – unless the lottery was cancelled or some other amazing thing happened to thwart this expectation.
Everything that Mo Gawdat writes has terrific or great merit in provoking deep thoughts or reflections from the reader, including his part on “Who are You?” Some reviewers or readers may say Mo never satisfactorily answers this question, and that is because he does not hand the answer to you “on a silver plate” to use a cliche.
I think that he leaves the answer to YOU and helps by saying what you are not.
Finding who “I am” is not a matter of words which are labels or energetic forms trying to define or describe who or what a person (or anything else) is, but is a matter of feeling or experiencing the “I AM” presence, so I believe myself, from reading this book and many other “spiritual” books.
This book is tinged with a sad over-tone. When looking up the “blurb” for this book on the internet or by reading the back cover of the book, you will find that Mo’s algorithm for happy was tested in 2014 when he lost his son, Ali.
The spiritual side of this book is that Mo Gawdat is continuing his journey with his son, by sharing what they both personally learned, that in their experiences, can lead to happiness. When I talk about happiness here, don’t forget that “Happiness” is itself a concept. I think that Mo is not talking about being joyful or extremely happy 99 percent of the time or all of the time or even most of the time, but about being moderately happy.
If the level of “Happiness” was on a scale with 10 “could not be happier”, is it realistic to expect to experience a number 10 happiness all of the time?
Maybe, in my own words, it would be a good start to aim to be ‘7’ on the scale most of the time – but you pick your number – and here it is very important to say that once you have decided that you don’t want to be not happy or un-happy MOST of the time, you MUST make the effort to learn how to achieve this.
It’s also critical (I think) not to confuse feeling lacking with feeling un-happy. Define what being “HAPPY” means to you because Mo Gawdat does not define it, and this is because it is in-definable. If you are feeling unhappy because you don’t have the latest i-phone or a new car etc. then question yourself – and this is what Mo will help you with if you pay attention to his words / concepts and make the EFFORT to change YOURSELF.
My example is, how about thinking and feeling “Boy I would love a new car, the car that I have is pretty old and costing me alot but I would love a yellow Mini that works well and will get me around for the next ten years. Wait a moment, I’m happy that I DO have a car at the moment and that I have SPENT the money and time on it, to keep it going, and you know what I am happy that there are cars that I can buy and that I can PLAN and prioritize and DO in order to get my next car.’
No, “be happy with what you’ve got” and “appreciate what you’ve got” are NOT tautologies or redundant. Mo covers this in his book and this is of course, not saying that people who are starving or oppressed or harmed should be perfectly happy with “what they’ve got”. Don’t be silly. We are grown-ups and sadly tend to sometimes confuse ourselves, or allow the “waters to be muddied” for some reason.
EVERYONE can appreciate and be happy with the GOOD things that they have. Think about Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Of course, the BAD may out-weigh the good, and Mo covers this in his book, as do other teachers, like the Dalai Lama. Some external causes may not be able to changed, but put some perspective into your Life.
How “bad” are things really for you? Could you be a tad happier if you didn’t expect some things, while asserting your boundaries or taking action where necessary if the “normal expected” something does not happen (like people showing you respect)?
Life is full of challenges …. if you expect Life to be totally free and easy and no problems at all – then you are not being realistic.
Mo Gawdat began reflecting upon the deep causes of his unhappiness before he lost his son, and the death of 21 year old Ali precipitated an out-pouring of logical and sensible thoughts about the nature of human beings and a philosophy that could be summed up as
“Be realistic & truthful, and choose to be Happy in the present moment with the truth.“
There’s a saying “when the student is ready, the teacher appears”, and I was ready to learn what Mo and Ali Gawdat want to teach, by reading “Solve for Happy.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have put it on my list of top 3 books to take with me, if I had to flee my house because a dinosaur was headed my way ( un-realistic I know, but it was what popped into my mind – is it possible? Find out by reading Mo’s book. You get my idea anyway, I think ! Also it might be a happy thing to someone to see a dinosaur – from a distance perhaps. Have they invented time machines? The key point here being imagination is a great equaliser I find, to help one to be happy with the possibilities. )
To see Mo’s final “Happiness Equation” ( happiness = experiencing Life without unrealistic expectations ) you can visit his site – link below – if you wish.
Choose to be Happy !
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