One Man’s Mathematical Algorithm for Happiness

I’ve published 46 essays on my personal blog out of the 52 I set out to write in 2017. I will fall asleep at the screen trying to finish in the twelve days left to the new year. I read 32 books out of the 40 I set as a goal for 2017. I plan on using some of the shorter books on my queue list to try and meet that goal.

If I don’t meet either goal, I will be satisfied knowing that I made trackable gains and progress in my creative endeavors.

Some people have made note of my ambition and dedication in this writing work. Some of those people, in an attempt to connect or gather inspiration, have asked me what my favorite book is. That is an impossible question to answer, even if you did give me a genre to work with.

I’ve read a plethora of creative and helpful books. I get excited just thinking about the list. I am reminded of Cheryl Strayed when she said, “If you read good books, good books will come out of you.” 2017 has been a year of training and 2018 I plan on coming out strong.

I will share, though, that there is one book I have found myself referencing often this past year. Mo Gawdat’s Solve for Happy has helped me better understand and also shift the way I look at the world. I cannot say that it was my favorite, but it was one of the most memorable and a book I would highly recommend for anyone looking to change their outlook on life to one that allows for more peace of mind.

Mo Gawdat is an entrepreneur with over 27 years of experience throughout different industries. Before he joined Google in 2007, where he eventually became chief business officer of Google X, he used his engineering and mathematical background to create an algorithm for happiness. The happiness equation blueprints that happiness is achieved when your perception of the events in your life are equal to or greater than your expectations of how life should be.

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He had been working on the research and evidence for this equation with his son, Ali Gawdat, before Ali died suddenly during a routine operation in 2014. It was during this time of grief and loss that Mo Gawdat claims he really tested out the happiness equation.

Solve For Happy is divided into four parts.

Part 1 introduces the equation and argues that happiness is the default state for humans. He also outlines the 6-7-5 principle that will set up the rest of the book.

Part 2 delves into six grand illusions that are responsible for hindering happiness (Thought, Self, Knowledge, Time, Control and Fear.) These grand illusions often distort the expectations end of the happiness equation.

Part 3 discusses the seven blind spots that affect the way our brains process information and blur our perception of reality. Gawdat also describes the brain’s proclivity for pessimism.

Part 4 provides evidence for the five ultimate truths that he believes serve as an anchor to help rise above thought and move towards peace of mind. Mo Gawdat writes out an interesting and convincing argument for intelligent design over evolution.

Mo Gawdat has a remarkable knack for braiding proven scientific theory and studies with personal stories in a way that engages the reader to think twice. He often prompts the reader to stop and complete an exercise or watch a video before continuing. He also scatters “Remember!” highlights every few pages to summarize the most important points.

Solve For Happy isn’t just a standard self-help manual. It is one man’s story of loss and discovery in the face of heartbreak. Mo Gawdat wrote his own personal survival guide and shared it with the world. I would argue that he did more than just survive and I am grateful that he chose to share his story.

***This is essay 46 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.

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