Review of Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat
Should have written this months ago after I completed this book, but I guess I have been too busy with with practicing the golden lessons taken away from it.
I recommend you read this book if you can as this book somehow appears to be a culmination of all the most inspiring books I have read on motivation, self awareness and consciousness.
Mo Gawdat proposes a theory that "Happiness is greater than or equal to the perception of the events of your life minus your expectations of how life should be."
If you look at it carefully and in mathematical sense, you will see that our perception is really what determines happiness the most as it has to either match our expectation or be greater than it for our happiness to have a reasonable score. Looking at it in another sense, it appears that we need to work on our expectations too. It does not mean we should encourage ourselves to have very low expectations or have no expectations at all.. but we need to watch our expectations and control it.
Many of us become unhappy because we expected something to happen in a certain way but it did not happen that way. If we were not expecting something to happen in a certain way, but kept our minds open that we want it to happen, but even if it doesn't we are still good, then we are at a good place in managing our expectation.
Mo argues that happiness is rooted in our thoughts and how we understand what is happening around us, not necessarily in the event happening in itself. If you can change the way you think about something, it changes how you feel about that same thing.
People are unhappy because they ae lost in their heads rather than actually living. Mo argued that more time is lost thinking about something than actually living it. For example, if I told you to imagine standing up from your chair, walking outside your house.. it will take more time than actually getting up instantly and doing the same without thought.
People say that 1 year feels like 1 week because they have not immersed themselves fully into the experience of that year. For Mo, we must learn to experience the present fully in order to be happy. If you are where you are at the moment, doing what you are doing with your full heart and mind, there will be no room for any unhappy thoughts.
But if you are not where you are and you allow your mind think about the past or worry about the future, then unhappiness could set in. You are not unhappy because something is wrong with where you are sitting and thinking at the moment. You are unhappy because you are allowing your thoughts take you into the past or future and you are imagining things that are not in your present happening already.
Pause a moment and think about it.
Mo says that it's not like looking at the past or imagining what the future would be like is a bad thing. However, we must ensure that we are consciously letting our mind glance through those. And what does it mean to consciously glance at the past or future? It means that you are not letting your thoughts just distract you at will with a random imagination.. rather you are in full control of when and why it should.
His recommendations are: if you must look at the past.. look at it to learn the lessons that you need, so you apply those lessons in the present moment asap. Not looking into the past to wish that something never happened or that things happened differently. That is where most get it wrong. Wallowing in self pity and regrets over the past. The past is gone and no matter how you think about it, you can't change nada about it. Need a time machine? lol. So consciously letting your mind look at the past means only looking at the past to pick lessons and most importantly APPLY THE LESSONS to what you are doing RIGHT NOW! NOT looking at the past to CRY AND WONDER WHY WHATEVER HAPPENED. That's nonsense and an easy way to waste useful time!
Secondly.. if you must look at the future. You are only looking to PLAN for ALL POSSIBILITIES, PLANS FOR ACTION FOR THE PRESENT. You are not allowing thoughts take you into the future to worry about what if something does not work, what if you lose your job, what if you lose your investment, what if he or she does not love you etc. Those are shortcuts to anxiety and it's unnecessary. You are only looking into the FUTURE to IMAGINE and PLAN FOR ACTION. So let's assume you are worried about the possibility of losing your job. Instead of allowing those thought bother you, your thinking should be: assuming I lose this job today, what can I don to still earn as much if not more money? Mo says if you are worried about something bad, assume that it happens, then plan for it. PLAN FOR WORST CASE SCENARIO OF YOUR WORRIES.
That is the solution to worrying about the future! Ask yourself, what is the worst case scenario? Can I do anything about it? If Yes, then PLAN AND DO WHAT YOU CAN! Then your mind will be at ease. IF you cannot do anything about it, which is rarely the case, then why are you worried about it. Forget it and enjoy, knowing that whether you worry or not about it, it changes nothing, so save yourself the worry time and accept the fate. The gain is that you have more time available to be happy if you cannot do something about something you are worried about than if you keep worrying about it when it's gonna happen anyways. Think about it. I rather be happy before it happens and enjoy. However, there is always something you can plan and do against worst case scenarios.. if you find your mind worried, anticipate worst case and plan/take action towards them.
Those are Mo's recommendations for those who can't get a hold of their minds wandering into the past or the future. For Mo, everything is dependent on what you do RIGHT NOW. Whatever you desire, your present action should be taking you closer towards it and your mind and conscious awareness should be laser focused on it.. leaving no room for time wasted through worry!
Mo says Happiness is always our default state. We are created and born happy, but because of ego identification, we find ourselves searching for happiness in things and looking for a reason to be happy. But happiness is who we are by default. Just conscious awareness of this makes me happy writing this. Knowing that you are already happy naturally, but false identification with objects, things, social pressures, false beliefs and other temporary things make you forget your default state hence you attach your happiness to your IDEA OF HAPPINESS.
Happiness is not outside of us. It is within everyone of us. Independent of who you are, what you achieve, what colour of skin you are or how you look. But as humans, we have created from nowhere multiple things to attach our happiness upon.
This does not mean that human endeavour is futile. Competition, innovation, creativity is all natural and part of us. However, our happiness should not be hinged upon them. As a matter of fact, a happy person is in a better position to be more creative, innovative and productive than an unhappy person. So humans need to recognize that they are happy, then let this happy state bear fruits of amazing things in our world than to be miserable first because they are hoping that they will be happy only when they have certain things.. which means they will continue to be unhappy until they do.. which means less creativity.. more poor quality work .. and what if they never even achieve what they hope for? That they will have lived all their lives unhappy? God forbid it. :)
Mo says we should learn to switch our thoughts, our minds tends to easily see the negative things first. It is a way it protects us from danger. However, we must learn to see the good things too and not let the negative become the default way we look at things. If you did not get a job, there are two ways to look at it "that you are a loser who failed miserably" or that "maybe that is not the best job for you. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, maybe it's an experience you should learn from and be better prepared for a much better job" ... if your mind thinks the latter, you are able to counter the negative.
Mo reminds us that we are not our bodies, our minds or our thoughts. We are the constant observer that sees everything going on in our bodies, minds and thoughts then we choose. We should remember that we are the choosers. If you let the mind, thoughts or body start choosing for you, you become miserable. You are the controller. Happiness is found on the positive side of things, so keep your mind positive. If negative thought arises, plan for worst case scenario and switch back to positive.
It sounds easy enough, but it's a lifetime battle of being the controller or letting our minds control us.
The key to unhappiness is to focus on what you don't have in the future and beating yourself up over the past. Happiness is where you are. So remember to snap out of past or futuristic thinking using the conscious glancing described above.
These are just quick thoughts from that amazing book.
There are lots more in the book.
You can order for it as a hardcopy on amazon here: HardCover Link
Or as an Audio book which you can get to listen for free here: Audiobook Link
Let me know your thoughts on this and if you have anything to share.
Stay in control of your happiness and keep winning!