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Solve for Happy is a startlingly original book about creating and maintaining happiness, written by a top Google executive with an engineer's training and fondness for thoroughly analyzing a problem. In 2004, Mo Gawdat, a remarkable thinker whose gifts had landed him in top positions in half a dozen companies and who-in his spare time-had created significant wealth, realiz Solve for Happy is a startlingly original book about creating and maintaining happiness, written by a top Google executive with an engineer's training and fondness for thoroughly analyzing a problem. In 2004, Mo Gawdat, a remarkable thinker whose gifts had landed him in top positions in half a dozen companies and who-in his spare time-had created significant wealth, realized that he was desperately unhappy. A lifelong learner, he attacked the problem as an engineer would, examining all the provable facts and scrupulously following logic. When he was finished he had discovered the equation for enduring happiness. Ten years later, that research saved him from despair when his college-age son, Ali-also intellectually gifted-died during routine surgery. In dealing with the loss, Mo found his mission: he would pull off the type of "moonshot" that he and his Google [X] colleagues were always aiming for: he would help ten million people become happier by pouring his happiness principles into a book and spreading its message around the world. One of Solve for Happy's key premises is that happiness is a default state. If we shape expectations to acknowledge the full range of possible events, unhappiness is on its way to being defeated. To steer clear of unhappiness traps, we must dispel the six illusions that cloud our thinking (e.g., the illusion of time, of control, and of fear); overcome the brain's seven deadly defects (e.g., the tendency to exaggerate, label, and filter), and embrace five ultimate truths (e.g., change is real, now is real, unconditional love is real). By means of several highly original thought experiments, Mo helps readers find enduring contentment by questioning some of the most fundamental aspects of their existence.


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Solve for Happy is a startlingly original book about creating and maintaining happiness, written by a top Google executive with an engineer's training and fondness for thoroughly analyzing a problem. In 2004, Mo Gawdat, a remarkable thinker whose gifts had landed him in top positions in half a dozen companies and who-in his spare time-had created significant wealth, realiz Solve for Happy is a startlingly original book about creating and maintaining happiness, written by a top Google executive with an engineer's training and fondness for thoroughly analyzing a problem. In 2004, Mo Gawdat, a remarkable thinker whose gifts had landed him in top positions in half a dozen companies and who-in his spare time-had created significant wealth, realized that he was desperately unhappy. A lifelong learner, he attacked the problem as an engineer would, examining all the provable facts and scrupulously following logic. When he was finished he had discovered the equation for enduring happiness. Ten years later, that research saved him from despair when his college-age son, Ali-also intellectually gifted-died during routine surgery. In dealing with the loss, Mo found his mission: he would pull off the type of "moonshot" that he and his Google [X] colleagues were always aiming for: he would help ten million people become happier by pouring his happiness principles into a book and spreading its message around the world. One of Solve for Happy's key premises is that happiness is a default state. If we shape expectations to acknowledge the full range of possible events, unhappiness is on its way to being defeated. To steer clear of unhappiness traps, we must dispel the six illusions that cloud our thinking (e.g., the illusion of time, of control, and of fear); overcome the brain's seven deadly defects (e.g., the tendency to exaggerate, label, and filter), and embrace five ultimate truths (e.g., change is real, now is real, unconditional love is real). By means of several highly original thought experiments, Mo helps readers find enduring contentment by questioning some of the most fundamental aspects of their existence.

30 review for Solve For Happy: Engineering Your Path to Uncovering the Joy Inside You

  1. 4 out of 5

    Artas Bartas

    This book was inspired by a personal tragedy. As Mo Gawdat explains in the introduction, he was moved to write "Solve for Happy" as a way to deal with the loss of his teenage son. Losing one's child is a terrible experience, and I have a lot of sympathy with parents who have to live through it. But when it comes to the book itself, it reads more as a corporate deck hastily put together by the HR department than a genuine attempt to explain how to achieve happiness. At its core, "Solve for Happy" This book was inspired by a personal tragedy. As Mo Gawdat explains in the introduction, he was moved to write "Solve for Happy" as a way to deal with the loss of his teenage son. Losing one's child is a terrible experience, and I have a lot of sympathy with parents who have to live through it. But when it comes to the book itself, it reads more as a corporate deck hastily put together by the HR department than a genuine attempt to explain how to achieve happiness. At its core, "Solve for Happy" advances a simple thesis: happiness is a thought, and its origins lie in how a person perceives the world around him. If you keep your expectations in check and learn to find a silver lining in every cloud, you will become happy. Obviously, there are a lot of things out there preventing us from practicing this attitude, and Mo Gawdat makes it into a personal challenge to identify, document, and address these obstacles. Applying his engineering mind to the problem of the human condition, he suggests that our failure to achieve happiness has to do with social illusions, personal biases, and flawed goals we choose to pursue or tolerate in the daily life. The author goes on to supply a long list of thought experiments, pop science tidbits, folksy tales, and comparative matrices to illustrate this point. The unspoken assumption underlying this whole exercise is that once you recognize how your behavior is driven by cognitive biases and social pressures, you will be able to transition into the state of enlightened being. But would you? The argument that "Solve for Happy" advances is based on a very simplistic view of human nature, the one where concepts like addiction, denial, delusion, pathology, social oppression, conscious sacrifice, interpersonal dynamics do not exist. For Mo Gawdat all social relations and personal experiences consist of two, clearly defined components - external events and internal reactions. Happiness is just a mechanistic exercise in finding the right internal response to an external event. It's unfortunate that Mo Gawdat decided to treat the topic this way. As a native Egyptian who made a career at Google and later ran business ventures out of Dubai, he is in a position to offer a lot of interesting insights on the topic. He could have chosen to talk about happiness as a Muslim; self-made man; politically progressive Arab; someone who managed to achieve success in two very different societies. Alas, instead of drawing on his unique cultural context, he chose to sanitize the story he tells at every turn. Meaningful personal details are stripped away, controversial opinions are shunned in favor of bland (and politically palatable) truths, and genuine contradictions of human nature are swept under the rug. All this makes for a very superficial theory and even worse literature. If you really want to learn something new about happiness, there are much more interesting books out there. Irvin D. Yalom's "When Nietzsche Wept" addresses the relationship between suffering and happiness in a much deeper, more poetic, and illuminating way than "Solve for Happy" ever does. Alasdair McIntyre's monumental study "After Virtue" shows how culture and social context shapes our understanding of happiness in a way that will make you question the reductionist approach Mo Gawdat and a lot of other self-help authors take. The only area where "Solve for Happy" excels, unfortunately, is in marketing itself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Popup-ch

    Pseudo-profound Panglossian platitudes, pitiable piety and piss-poor philosophy. Mo was a successful modern tech titan - working for Microsoft, and then Google, and currently heads Google-X. He was a self-made millionaire, and once bought two Rolls-Royces on a whim. But he wasn't happy. Then his beloved son died, and he became happy. It sounds like a weird set-up for a self-help book, and it is. The book starts out with some sensible advice about not comparing oneself with an unattainable ideal, Pseudo-profound Panglossian platitudes, pitiable piety and piss-poor philosophy. Mo was a successful modern tech titan - working for Microsoft, and then Google, and currently heads Google-X. He was a self-made millionaire, and once bought two Rolls-Royces on a whim. But he wasn't happy. Then his beloved son died, and he became happy. It sounds like a weird set-up for a self-help book, and it is. The book starts out with some sensible advice about not comparing oneself with an unattainable ideal, based on the observation that 'Happiness = Outcome - Expectations". He makes some valid remarks about 'happiness' not being the same (or more than tangentially related to) 'having fun', which he likens to a short-term high, rather than long-term bliss. Towards the end of the book, however, he veers off into metaphysics, and shows that he has not understood relativity theory, quantum mechanics or evolution. He misinterprets relativity theory by turning Einsteins dismissal of simultaneity into a refusal of Time as a real entity. He misinterprets quantum mechanics by insisting that the collapse of wave functions requires the presence of an external observer, thereby 'proving' the existence of a deity. But even worse is his misinterpretation of evolution, when he likens the evolution of complex life with the sudden apparence of an iPhone after a lightning bolt strikes a sandpit. While the first half of the book contains some sensible advice, the latter part ruins the necessary reader/author relationship of trustworthiness.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I'm fascinated by analytical thinking, problem solving and algorithms AND this book satisfied all of that and more. Mo Gawdat's book is part psychology, part science, part spiritual quest. Mo posits that happiness is a conceptual problem and that the default setting for the human brain is happiness. So when life throws us curve balls, we can reboot, reframe and regain our natural state. Mo Gawdat is the Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and spends his days around people who put all their brai I'm fascinated by analytical thinking, problem solving and algorithms AND this book satisfied all of that and more. Mo Gawdat's book is part psychology, part science, part spiritual quest. Mo posits that happiness is a conceptual problem and that the default setting for the human brain is happiness. So when life throws us curve balls, we can reboot, reframe and regain our natural state. Mo Gawdat is the Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and spends his days around people who put all their brain power and reasoning power toward solving big problems. He has decided that helping to make 10 million people happy would change the world. I'm with him. Utterly fascinating and I highly recommend this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eike Post Preischaft

    Solve for happiness is a great topic and the promise of hearing on becoming happier from an engineering perspective made me really excited. So excited that I summarized the whole book here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q... However, Mo Gawdat, does not deliver on his promise of a happiness equation, the only thing that he gives us is the following: Happiness = Perception of reality - Expectation But then Mo does not even follow up on that equation! Instead he mentions other factors for happi Solve for happiness is a great topic and the promise of hearing on becoming happier from an engineering perspective made me really excited. So excited that I summarized the whole book here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q... However, Mo Gawdat, does not deliver on his promise of a happiness equation, the only thing that he gives us is the following: Happiness = Perception of reality - Expectation But then Mo does not even follow up on that equation! Instead he mentions other factors for happiness but some of them are actually contradicting the equation. For example, he asserts that we are by default in a state of happiness and if we stay in the present moment instead of thinking about future and past we will stay happy (independent of the above equation). Furthermore, Mo fails to explain how the following chapters on illusion, blind spots and truths are related to happiness. For example he talks about the illusion of knowledge and that there is no absolute knowledge, but never explains why this is relevant for happiness. Moreover, the book is very poorly structured and repeated several topics several times. For example, the concept of the importance of staying in the moment is explained first in the chapter on the illusion of time and then in a very similar way in the chapter on the truth of now. Furthermore, in several chapters he talks about two or more concepts that have very little relation to each other, like for example in the chapter on the illusion of time he mentions we should not let time master us, iE not stress about time, and the same pages talks about mindfulness and focus on the presence, as if it was the same concept. Overall, in terms of a Google developer, the book appears like spaghetti code, without any relevant structure. Also, there are very few new ideas contained in the book; everything is recycled from other books that present the knowledge in a more organized way. For that reason I have reorganized the content of the book in a much more organized way here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A... In my version I tried to arrange all the concepts of the book under the happiness equation, which states that we can be happier by: 1. Staying in the present 2. Making our reality better 3. Improving our perception of reality 4. Reducing our expectations

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Canaday

    I thought I would keep going, but you know what? Life's too short to read crappy recycled information sold as some sort of secret way of finding or creating happiness. It read like the author read a few self-help books, found something that worked for him and stitched all those bits together in his own book. I actually really hate self-help books; I've had a personal policy for many years that I don't read them and for some reason I took the chance on this book. Fail. I should have known though b I thought I would keep going, but you know what? Life's too short to read crappy recycled information sold as some sort of secret way of finding or creating happiness. It read like the author read a few self-help books, found something that worked for him and stitched all those bits together in his own book. I actually really hate self-help books; I've had a personal policy for many years that I don't read them and for some reason I took the chance on this book. Fail. I should have known though because there's no equation that creates happiness and just because the guy is an engineer, doesn't mean that he can engineer happiness in others. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Nankivell

    The ending drove a stake through the wrong side of my aorta: "If you come away with nothing else from this book, please understand this: there’s no randomness in life. Our universe is the product of masterful design. The designer doesn’t run the show; the equations he designed do." Seriously? Then who designed the designer? There's more fallacies in the idea then I care to regurgitate. I suppose I can't blame the guy for what he finds solace in, but to hinge the value of the book on whether or not t The ending drove a stake through the wrong side of my aorta: "If you come away with nothing else from this book, please understand this: there’s no randomness in life. Our universe is the product of masterful design. The designer doesn’t run the show; the equations he designed do." Seriously? Then who designed the designer? There's more fallacies in the idea then I care to regurgitate. I suppose I can't blame the guy for what he finds solace in, but to hinge the value of the book on whether or not the reader believes in a divine creator - is absurd. Furthermore: "When you choose between two thoughts and can prove neither with total certainty, choose the one that makes you happy. What could be simpler?" But what if one thought has more certainty than the other? Given the evidence we have (or lack thereof) for the existence of God for example, it appears to me there's approximately a 99% chance of God not existing and a 1% chance he does. Regardless of whether the figures are precise, the point is... Is it not extremely difficult to the rational man, to believe in the one thought that has much less proof than the other, even if the one with lesser proof has the potential to make one happy? Choosing the thought that makes you most happy also disregards the effect it has on others. If I think shooting people makes me happy, then I should have no qualms about holding on to that thought, right? This guy may have impressive credentials and a warm intention, but he fails to see the most basic flaws of his arguments through rose-tinted glasses. Maybe I need a pair.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark Taylor

    A rehash of Buddhism, Islam and every other self-help book ever written with a cliched and intellectually lazy bit of creationism defense at the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    In general, I try to be somewhat kind in my reviews. I know a few authors, and despite their thick skins, they are still people who (usually) tried to create something of value for others. And yet, there is honestly no way that I can be kind in my review of this book. The problems are pervasive. First, we have a fabulously wealthy individual telling all of the rest of us that money is not really the key to happiness. Well, duh, but please tell that to the people strugging to pay rent this week. G In general, I try to be somewhat kind in my reviews. I know a few authors, and despite their thick skins, they are still people who (usually) tried to create something of value for others. And yet, there is honestly no way that I can be kind in my review of this book. The problems are pervasive. First, we have a fabulously wealthy individual telling all of the rest of us that money is not really the key to happiness. Well, duh, but please tell that to the people strugging to pay rent this week. Gawdat's stories about how hard it was to live in Dubai becoming easily wealthy by figuring out day trading are less than motivational to most of the world. I'll just log that into my to-do list once I am done cleaning the bathrooms here at home. Second, the book is full of humble bragging, even about his son's death. Hundreds of people showed up at the funeral Gawdat tells us, which has little meaning to the parents I know who lost children and found that most people stayed away because of the sheer pain of facing such a loss. I am glad that he was able to find a measure of peace, as many of tus touched by the death of a child do not. But, I find it reprehensible that he uses the crowds at his son's funeral to promote himself. Because, happiness does, at least fleetingly, come from humble bragging, but I have never found such people to be worthy of my time. Third, Gawdat implies that all of life's miseries that seem to have passed him by are really just a state of mind. Any Buddhist or therapist could tell you so, but that does not mean that those living in circumstances other than Gawdat's rarified circles are purposefully and ignoring chosing to wallow in pain, and it is darn hard to maintain a clear state of mind when college tuition rears its head and you have to chose between retirement from a job you hate or paying for your kids over-priced tuition, situations that Gawdat will never face, nor ever understand. Those who are struggling to pay bills and manage life deserve more than Gawdat's self-promoting focus on "creating happiness for all". Finally, the book attempts to take a complex subject and reduce it to a few simple equations. Work out. Find beauty in the day to day. Don't expect a lot, and don't compare to others. Don't be afraid of death. Live each moment as if it is your last. Love yourself. You get the idea. Most of his concepts appear to be clickbait in book form, with all essential meaning stripped down. It is not that these concepts are not important, because they are, but the book is larded with so very many self-help tropes over and over again, in each section and chapter. I'm all for finding happiness, which for me, ended up being achieved by skimming the vast majority of this prententious book and ignoring sections such as "debugging your brains code".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hana Marsalkova

    This is such a wonderful book: it offers honest, personal, logical and scientific yet simple and easily digestible story of what life REALLY is. Even if you're not a much of a reader or if you're not into this whole 'self help' topic. I think this book is so inspiring and eye-opening for everyone. Personally for me, I love reading about happiness, psychology, I've read several similar books and loads of articles on similar topics in the past but I still found tons and tons of new inspiring thoug This is such a wonderful book: it offers honest, personal, logical and scientific yet simple and easily digestible story of what life REALLY is. Even if you're not a much of a reader or if you're not into this whole 'self help' topic. I think this book is so inspiring and eye-opening for everyone. Personally for me, I love reading about happiness, psychology, I've read several similar books and loads of articles on similar topics in the past but I still found tons and tons of new inspiring thoughts in this book! We all live such busy lives and it's easy to rush through life and not notice how wonderful and special it is. Even in the times of change, challenge, when we are out of our comfort zone. And maybe especially then. The most unexpected circumstances often bring beautiful surprises later. And there is always something good that comes out of every situation. If you just choose to see it. Solve for Happy helps with seeing the good in life and knowing how to grow through any life situation, in fact it kind of helps train your happiness muscle so to say! It left me incredibly inspired. Highly recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Daif

    I sincerely feel sad for the grieving father who lost his son and I truly wish him the peace of mind. I liked the approach of trying to use logic in order to reach happiness, but there were three major problems for me reading this book: 1. The book didn't make me feel happy, in the matter of fact it made me feel sad for the author and his family. I understand that was the motive behind writing the book in the first place. But, the book has too much emotional pain in it. 2. This is definitely not h I sincerely feel sad for the grieving father who lost his son and I truly wish him the peace of mind. I liked the approach of trying to use logic in order to reach happiness, but there were three major problems for me reading this book: 1. The book didn't make me feel happy, in the matter of fact it made me feel sad for the author and his family. I understand that was the motive behind writing the book in the first place. But, the book has too much emotional pain in it. 2. This is definitely not happiness, the book is about how to take your mind off crappy life events. That's not exactly happiness, not even harmony ... it's been realistic and it's totally okay .. but .. again .. not happiness. 3. The last part was about the author's belief in intelligent design and afterlife and stating why he believes that his son is waiting for him, trying to take a mathematical probabilistic analysis approach. I won't go through the details, they are in the book. but to me ... that's both pseudoscience and illogical conclusions, the author built conclusions that are not really based on the premises !

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I liked this one way more than I thought I would like it. It was a nice review of the literature and research on happiness, but so much better than all of that was the personal stories. It was really inspiring to hear about Mo's struggle with his son's death and his development of his theories on happiness. I do believe that it is a choice we make and that with training, we can choose to be happy. This book was a nice guide. I liked this one way more than I thought I would like it. It was a nice review of the literature and research on happiness, but so much better than all of that was the personal stories. It was really inspiring to hear about Mo's struggle with his son's death and his development of his theories on happiness. I do believe that it is a choice we make and that with training, we can choose to be happy. This book was a nice guide.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maha El-sada

    I usually love to read books based on life experience and I would say that this book is the best book I have ever read. It may change your perspective to yourself and lead you to more self-awareness to more happiness.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gustavo Antonio Parada Sarmiento

    A few months ago I saw a short clip video of 4-5 minutes of Mo while he was being interviewed. I looked for some other videos of him which were also quite interesting. As expected, this book contains a more detailed explanation of what he shared in his talks, all the background. The book provides a considerable amount of interesting points of view, all of them related to find happiness, as a sequence of logical questions, as an analysis, and at moments, as simple common sense. Several examples ar A few months ago I saw a short clip video of 4-5 minutes of Mo while he was being interviewed. I looked for some other videos of him which were also quite interesting. As expected, this book contains a more detailed explanation of what he shared in his talks, all the background. The book provides a considerable amount of interesting points of view, all of them related to find happiness, as a sequence of logical questions, as an analysis, and at moments, as simple common sense. Several examples are very suitable for our days. Mo writes as a loving father, as a kind teacher trying to share as much as he can in the simplest way possible, not only as an Engineer, but as a human too. Many parts of the book deserve a quite environment to be read and assimilated, although clear, the inner reflection is an almost immediate effect. I consider this book full of ideas to find not only happiness, but calm, peace, consciousness and wisdom. Personally, I consider this a great book, at the same level of The Last Lecture from R. Pausch.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    You'd think it couldn't be done: Can you engineer your way to happy? Mo Gawdat, a chief business officer at Google, decided to do so. Gawdat uses research and philosophy to come up with a way everyone can be happy. He did so while facing one of the worst possible events in a life, the loss of his beloved son. He confronts all the happiness crushers in life and wrestles them to the ground. He takes on the six grand illusions of life, our seven blind spots, and five ultimate truths. He examines the You'd think it couldn't be done: Can you engineer your way to happy? Mo Gawdat, a chief business officer at Google, decided to do so. Gawdat uses research and philosophy to come up with a way everyone can be happy. He did so while facing one of the worst possible events in a life, the loss of his beloved son. He confronts all the happiness crushers in life and wrestles them to the ground. He takes on the six grand illusions of life, our seven blind spots, and five ultimate truths. He examines them carefully, precisely, scientifically, and in the end creates a beautiful case for a path to be happy. How can you argue against science?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt

    First and foremost, thank you Mo for sharing your story and perspective of the world. It takes a lot to overcome such a tragic event and you’re very strong for being able to get through it and very kind for trying to help other people do the same. I have much respect for you and liked many aspects of your book and after 331 pages, you feel less like an author and more like a friend which is why I direct this review directly to you. I understand and respect your perspectives on God and the soul b First and foremost, thank you Mo for sharing your story and perspective of the world. It takes a lot to overcome such a tragic event and you’re very strong for being able to get through it and very kind for trying to help other people do the same. I have much respect for you and liked many aspects of your book and after 331 pages, you feel less like an author and more like a friend which is why I direct this review directly to you. I understand and respect your perspectives on God and the soul but have to strongly disagree with your stances on both subjects. All of the advice you’ve given on overcoming sadness and creating joy was helpful and well formulated but each time you tried to bring divine intervention or spirituality into the mix things went sour. I wish you would have ended the book at chapter 13 because chapter 14 is where I started really disliking the book. If I could rate chapter 14 separately I’d give it a 1/5 stars and the rest of the book 5/5 stars. You said it yourself “ reject every illusion and always seek what is real”. I think the loss of your son caused you to chase the illusion of a Creator. You were an atheist and then turned to God once your son passed away. This is because Ali’s dying wish was to meet the Creator and thus you had an obligation to find truth in there being one so your son could be fulfilled in the afterlife. The problem is that you are a mathematician and not an evolutionary scientist or astrophysicist. It’s good that you can calculate how improbable our existence is but just by doing so it doesn’t entail that it is impossible. In chapter 14 you make the fine-tuning argument which emphasizes on how “perfect” the world is for us but ignore all of our imperfections along with the evolutionary evidence for why the world is “perfect” not because we were placed here but rather adapted to here. You’ve also assumed that because an iPhone was created, we’ve also been. This is the watchmaker argument which argues that in order for a design to exist there must be a designer. This is true for tools created by humans but doesn’t have to be true for the creation of the universe nor the organisms that evolved in it. A thunderstorm isn’t designed by the clouds, nor an earthquake by the Earth or a planet by a star. I will still recommend your book and will maybe read it again one day because it is rich in value for its tips and stories but I will caution each reader to be informed enough in the sciences to know what to take from your book and what to leave behind.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrey Kurenkov

    Though I have learned to loathe the self-help genre for the useless verbose shallow snake oil that it is, I nevertheless was compelled to explore more analytical-sounding fare in it. Who knows, maybe my distaste for it kept me from finding valuable advice; after all we are all human, and surely one of these books just summarizes widely accepted objective findings related to being happy and healthy. At first this book got my hopes up - the writer seemed like an analytical sort, his narration of t Though I have learned to loathe the self-help genre for the useless verbose shallow snake oil that it is, I nevertheless was compelled to explore more analytical-sounding fare in it. Who knows, maybe my distaste for it kept me from finding valuable advice; after all we are all human, and surely one of these books just summarizes widely accepted objective findings related to being happy and healthy. At first this book got my hopes up - the writer seemed like an analytical sort, his narration of the audio book was compelling and really sounded genuine, and the motivation behind it seemed believable. The first few chapters even seemed to justify those high hopes; framing the whole exercise around the well known if unoriginal "reality - expectations" concept made sense, and the chapter summarizing how to deal with one's unproductive thoughts explained concepts routinely cited in support of the effectiveness of meditation. But... I should have known better than to get my hopes up. The book quick nosedived after that with 3 chapters so abysmal I had to stop after the third one despite there being many hours left in the audio book. The first the three that was a full hour went on and on about how the supposedly common perception of the self (from the outset a straw man) was an illusion, and arrived at a simplistic definition that was incredibly easy to refute. The second claimed to knowledge itself was an illusion, because get this, we don't know anything absolutely for sure! This one also weirdly went into the story of JK Rowling to showcase how negative events are really good events in disguise because they are necessary for our future success - because that always happens, you see. The third leaned on nearly the same stupid trick of claiming time was an illusion merely because we can perceive it differently and oh man... it is so tiresome and lame and disappointing at that point, and i've read in other reviews he goes on to mangle the meaning of quantum physics just make it stop. So. Don't read this. Unless you into this sort of thing. I am not. This one's on me for buying a book called "Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy"...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Park

    Enjoyed this book. It was a lot of what I’ve read in other books. But, it was nice to hear from a different perspective and from such a personal view.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dave Bolton

    I wanted to like this book -- written by a successful technologist, I thought it could be an interesting angle on age old human concerns. Unfortunately, it's just not very good. Another reviewer compared it to the corporate slide deck version of an examination of happiness, which is a good analogy. Lots of ideas in here, many misrepresented from their sources, and a lot of wild conclusions that don't really make sense. In the midst, there are a couple of kernels of wisdom, but really you'd be ab I wanted to like this book -- written by a successful technologist, I thought it could be an interesting angle on age old human concerns. Unfortunately, it's just not very good. Another reviewer compared it to the corporate slide deck version of an examination of happiness, which is a good analogy. Lots of ideas in here, many misrepresented from their sources, and a lot of wild conclusions that don't really make sense. In the midst, there are a couple of kernels of wisdom, but really you'd be able to find them more easily in almost any book on meditation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Viola Rijnsdorp

    Super nice and interesting book, except the last charter 😉

  20. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    This is exactly the kind of stuff I love. Gawdat simply and systematically describes some things that make us happy, some things that make us unhappy and how to tip the needle in the direction of happiness. Gawdat brings a personal story to the story that puts things in stark relief - he lost his adult son to a random medical mistake. His description of his son's life and his struggle with the tragedy of his loss leads immediacy to these lessons. I really liked his use of videogames as metaphor. This is exactly the kind of stuff I love. Gawdat simply and systematically describes some things that make us happy, some things that make us unhappy and how to tip the needle in the direction of happiness. Gawdat brings a personal story to the story that puts things in stark relief - he lost his adult son to a random medical mistake. His description of his son's life and his struggle with the tragedy of his loss leads immediacy to these lessons. I really liked his use of videogames as metaphor. I don't think I've heard this used as extensively in other spiritual guidance books. It was masterfully done. I also really loved his almost innocent use of words. He says things like "naughty" instead of bad. He adorably states that if he has to die he wishes it would be death by candy. I loved the way he admits how mind-boggling quantum theory is, how it will make your head hurt if you try to think about it too much. He just overall gives the impression of a truly open-hearted and intellectually curious person. His penultimate chapter annoyed me as he tried to argue that God exists because the universe shows "order". He also insists on conflating evolution with "randomness" which is tiresome. And then he says there is no evidence of "macro evolution". Damn, boy, come on. If you want to believe in God because life is complicated and amazing, that's fine, you don't have to lie to support that. You can easily just skip that chapter and enjoy the book just fine if that sort of thing annoys you the way it annoys me, because overall the book was WELL WORTH the read. It's the kind of thing I can see myself picking up again in the future if I find myself needing guidance.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Diane Holcomb

    Be happy. Have you heard that before? Good advice, but...how? Is there some secret formula for happiness? Mo Gawdat, the Chief Business Officer at Google X, put his engineer-mind to work on that question when he found himself chronically unhappy, despite having wealth, health, a loving family and fulfilling career—all the things we equate with the state of being joyful. After much research and mathematical analysis, he concluded that yes, there is a formula, which he tried on himself and hundred Be happy. Have you heard that before? Good advice, but...how? Is there some secret formula for happiness? Mo Gawdat, the Chief Business Officer at Google X, put his engineer-mind to work on that question when he found himself chronically unhappy, despite having wealth, health, a loving family and fulfilling career—all the things we equate with the state of being joyful. After much research and mathematical analysis, he concluded that yes, there is a formula, which he tried on himself and hundreds of his friends to great success. Even after his beloved son died tragically, Mo was able to experience moments of happiness throughout the intense grieving process by applying this equation. His goal now? To help ten million people achieve a happy state. In Solve for Happy, you'll learn the author's formula for rising above the chatter of your distorted thinking, fixing the blind spots that filter your judgment of reality, and hanging onto the ultimate truths that lead to joy. You'll see how, by changing your relationship to time, self, knowledge, control, and fear, you find peace. You'll see how, by challenging your assumptions, predictions, memories, and emotions, you find joy. And you'll learn how accepting what is: the present moment, change, love, death, and the grand design of life, makes happiness last. In writing this life-changing and accessible book, Mo Gawdat invites us all to jump on the happiness train. This is one of the best books on the subject I've read. And I dare any reader to finish it with a dry eye.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesus Garlea

    TL;DR. If you have a feeling of longing in your life, just read this book. =============================================== I bought this book a week after my dear friend committed suicide: I always have felt that something was missing in my life, always longing for something that I didn't knew what it was, thinking that the future will be always brighter than today. This feeling of longing got me married, got me graduate as a software engineer, got a really good job in the valley, funded my company a TL;DR. If you have a feeling of longing in your life, just read this book. =============================================== I bought this book a week after my dear friend committed suicide: I always have felt that something was missing in my life, always longing for something that I didn't knew what it was, thinking that the future will be always brighter than today. This feeling of longing got me married, got me graduate as a software engineer, got a really good job in the valley, funded my company along the way with my dad, but still after all this "achievements" I was still longing for something that I still can't put in words. I noticed my friend had similar thoughts and even tho I tried to cheer him up I didn't knew how, after he committed suicide I realized that if I didn't actively search for happiness it will never happen for me. After reading the book slowly and actively thinking about it felt something in my life just clicked, I'm even starting to live frugally because of the realization that material stuff will never buy my way into happiness. I'm finally starting to find myself enjoying simple things again, getting caught in the moment and stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nic Brisbourne

    I gave this five stars because there's some nuggets of real wisdom that I think will help me and others in the quest for happiness. The basic happiness equation - happiness comes when our expectations meet or exceed reality - is an insightful framing and makes it clear that the key is to set our expectations better. To do that we should deal with the illusions and biases that give us inflated expectations (control, knowledge, time and fear were the ones that resonated most with me) and live in t I gave this five stars because there's some nuggets of real wisdom that I think will help me and others in the quest for happiness. The basic happiness equation - happiness comes when our expectations meet or exceed reality - is an insightful framing and makes it clear that the key is to set our expectations better. To do that we should deal with the illusions and biases that give us inflated expectations (control, knowledge, time and fear were the ones that resonated most with me) and live in the present. The book is long on well thought through practical tips that help - e.g. on how to identify the fears that drive us and face them or on how to ease into mindfulness and meditation. My only niggle - and it is a substantial one - is that the latter part of the book is dedicated to what is to me a far fetched version of creationism and a justification for the after life. There's lots of great stuff that people can learn from, but it's a tough journey and this stuff makes the book harder to share and gives people an excuse not to engage. I gave it five stars anyway because of the quality of the thinking and advice in the first part of the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Max Nova

    A condescending and lazy self-help book. While the premature death of his son is undeniably tragic, Gawdat loses my sympathy with his faux insights and patronizing tone. "Going back to one of my childhood interests, the theory of relativity..." *gag* It might have been bearable if he actually delivered the goods, but this book is a haphazard mashup of rudimentary Stoic / Buddhist philosophy and an unhealthy dose of post-traumatic rationalization by a grieving parent. Gawdat narrates the audioboo A condescending and lazy self-help book. While the premature death of his son is undeniably tragic, Gawdat loses my sympathy with his faux insights and patronizing tone. "Going back to one of my childhood interests, the theory of relativity..." *gag* It might have been bearable if he actually delivered the goods, but this book is a haphazard mashup of rudimentary Stoic / Buddhist philosophy and an unhealthy dose of post-traumatic rationalization by a grieving parent. Gawdat narrates the audiobook himself and there are some truly touching emotional moments, but he throws away any rapport he has with the listener by tacking on a psuedo-scientific defense of creationism at the end. Gawdat would have been better off keeping his sorrow to himself than spewing out this sloppy bit of public grieving and rationalization - but apparently none of his friends, editors, or publishers had the courage to tell him that. Cross-posted at http://books.max-nova.com/solve-for-happy/

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bella

    No doubt, much of the information presented in Gawdat's book has been said before and is common sense. With that said, "common sense" is easier said than done. I needed to hear (read) sound advice again, and he presents it in such a way that isn't didactic. I didn't feel lectured or like someone talking to me who mysteriously transcended all of life's pains. (Sorry, Tolle fans. His intentions seem good hearted but his approach was painful and complicated for me to chew.) Gawdat keeps it real and No doubt, much of the information presented in Gawdat's book has been said before and is common sense. With that said, "common sense" is easier said than done. I needed to hear (read) sound advice again, and he presents it in such a way that isn't didactic. I didn't feel lectured or like someone talking to me who mysteriously transcended all of life's pains. (Sorry, Tolle fans. His intentions seem good hearted but his approach was painful and complicated for me to chew.) Gawdat keeps it real and he couches reality with science, and more importantly, with his experience via the passing of his son. Indeed, Solve for Happy is a love story underneath it all. Here's a man who loves his son so much and honors his son by growing his son's legacy of authenticity, love, and life. The last third of the book is where the treasure lies, for me, and at the end of it all, I found myself heartened and sturdy. I felt (feel) grounded. I highly recommend this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lourens

    You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I'm afraid I did. After reading Kahneman's experiments on well being and happiness in the latter half of Thinking, Fast and Slow, I was on the lookout for an analytical view on happiness. The combination of the title, equation on the cover art, connection with Google and the appealing 'engineer your path to joy' lead me believe this was what I was looking for. Sadly this book is not that. It's a highly subjective, very non-nuanced self-help book. And You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I'm afraid I did. After reading Kahneman's experiments on well being and happiness in the latter half of Thinking, Fast and Slow, I was on the lookout for an analytical view on happiness. The combination of the title, equation on the cover art, connection with Google and the appealing 'engineer your path to joy' lead me believe this was what I was looking for. Sadly this book is not that. It's a highly subjective, very non-nuanced self-help book. And although I'm not the biggest fan of self help books, I can appreciate them from time to time. This book however, did not live up to these second expectations. The opening sets the tone for the book, informal instructions for happiness, intertwining the touching personal story. It sets up this very simple "Happiness Equation". The equation itself is backed up minimally, but is used and referenced to constantly throughout the book, often as an argument for other advice. The first part considers "6 Grand Illusions". I enjoyed this part, the text was not exactly profound, and I was annoyed by the tone and illustrations, but I felt it told a consistent story with a core of truth to it. Take for example the "Illusion of Knowledge", in which Gawdat explains how limited our understanding of the world really is. Humbling for sure. It piqued my interest for the last part, called "5 Ultimate Truths". (The second part, "7 Blind Spots", I am fairly neutral about.) If Knowledge is an illusion, I was hoping for some distilled, minimalist truths that would leave me with a bare, but sure view of life. The opposite was true. The last part, "5 Ultimate Truths" ultimately spoiled this book for me. First of all, the "Truths" here are everything except "Ultimate", and the lack of acknowledgement is in stark contrast with the illusion of Knowledge. Gawdat starts with 2 neutral chapters about the "Now" and "Change", uninspired but okay. He then delivers a mess of chapter about "Love" filled with empty, sometimes confusing paragraphs. A special mention to this awful metaphor: "In physics, the law of conservation of energy never goes away. It never even diminishes. It changes form, but in any closed system the amount of energy you start with will be the amount you end with. Love follows the same law [...] Actually it does one better than energy: it attracts the love of all beings in you. Like a savings account, the more love you deposit, the more it grows and multiplies so that when it's time for you to withdraw, even more will be there for you. Call that the law of conservation-or multiplication-of love." (formatting mine) Considering Gawdat is quick to mention he is an engineer, I wonder if he was even trying with this book. Or maybe he never understood the concept of conservation of energy. The last two chapters, both under the umbrella of "Ultimate Truths", try to convince the reader of both the existence of an afterlife and the existence of a designer, a godlike figure. Both are crucial for Gawdat's guide to happiness, so you would expect the "Ultimate" case to defend them. To put it bluntly, there is not. In the latter, the existence of the designer, is defended in what Gawdat calls a mathematical proof, slandering the entire field in one sweeping misunderstanding of a proof. Arguing that the absence of a designer implies that everything that happens is completely random, and since the chances of that happening are so small, it is more likely that there is a designer. Quite an embarrassing chapter. Examples showing a convenient misunderstanding of evolution theory. Generally this chapter was so messy I do not know where to begin tackling it without going on a tangent. Although I am very tempted to give you some of the countless ridiculous examples in the latter chapter, I will resist that temptation. Overall, I felt like this book did not attain what it set out to do. The structure was fine, but the last part did not effectively close out the book. Highlights were the convincing Illusions in the first part and the personal story. Low points were the claims with lack of or laughable reasoning. There was a lack of defense to serious objections. It is good practice to address serious objections, it is bad practice to find the weakest objection to counter, as done in the last chapter of the book. To conclude, this book does not claim bizarre things. I can find myself in a belief of an afterlife or a designer for example. It is the way they are framed and defended which bothers me. This book could cut a lot of fat, rethink some of its analysis, address more objections and become a 4 star book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marco G

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a frustrating book to get through. I would have given it one star because it's just a bunch of platitudes that quite honestly, were frustrating and difficult to get through. But my heart broke for the author who informs us that his son was lost due to Medical malpractice. the author is a very successful leader at Google, and is apparently quite rich and successful. His opinions on choosing to be happy, his theories on life, all seen driven by the need to tell us how he got over the deat This was a frustrating book to get through. I would have given it one star because it's just a bunch of platitudes that quite honestly, were frustrating and difficult to get through. But my heart broke for the author who informs us that his son was lost due to Medical malpractice. the author is a very successful leader at Google, and is apparently quite rich and successful. His opinions on choosing to be happy, his theories on life, all seen driven by the need to tell us how he got over the death of his son. And I'm okay with that. But I wonder what the father on a refugee boat, whose three-year-old son drowned and washed ashore would think about this guy's advice on being happy. Ultimately I think self-help books like this are really subjective and difficult to evaluate but if you read a lot of them like I am trying to do, you start to see what works and really dislike what doesn't work and I really disliked this book. But I have to account for some of my emotions as I read this and not all were terrible. I was moved by some of what he said in the book, and I think his thoughts later on about gratitude and the pain we put ourselves through when we compare ourselves to other more successful people is quite good. But ultimately I think this was more a tribute to his son and how he got over the son's death. I don't know how much I am taking away from reading this book that I didn't already know. It seems like a lot of books like this follow the same formula which is State some sort of opinion on how to be happy and use a bunch of fancy words and make sure you let the audience know how successful you are on your route to finding happiness. I am really rambling here and feel compelled to jot some opinions down because in a way I feel kind of manipulated. I think there are levels of tragedy that platitudes contained in this book may not work to solve. I think saying things like simply choosing to be happy are almost kind of like drivel. Kind of insulting. I kept thinking back to that 3 year old boy washed ashore a few years ago and how his parents must have felt as refugees going through that. I wonder if books like this would help them? I will say I agree and felt like the son of the author was right before he died when he said try to live a happy life and be good to each other. I think that goes a long way but this book fall short in many respects as far as giving advice on how to be happy to those that haven't completely met the basic necessities of life and are truly suffering. I wish I could write better and express myself more fluently as to why I dislike this book so much but at the end I think it's a bit of a failure and I was expecting a lot more.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I finished it because I wanted so badly for it to be great. TBH I would have been much better off re-reading Loving What Is. I usually like yet another book on stoicism and happiness. And I picked it up after I heard a short talk he did about control. But this was a book about his personal grief. Moreover his 'illusion of knowledge' aka hindsight never applied to any of his science/math/probability? Nope. Also the power of compounding? Nope. If writing this book made him 'happy' then great? But I I finished it because I wanted so badly for it to be great. TBH I would have been much better off re-reading Loving What Is. I usually like yet another book on stoicism and happiness. And I picked it up after I heard a short talk he did about control. But this was a book about his personal grief. Moreover his 'illusion of knowledge' aka hindsight never applied to any of his science/math/probability? Nope. Also the power of compounding? Nope. If writing this book made him 'happy' then great? But I didn't need to read about his idolization of his perfect son that much. "I realized that my passion was contaminated by the urge to satisfy my ego." "The versions of you that you don't like are actually those personas created by your ego." "Every now and again we stumble upon an incredible discovery. The new knowledge drives debate and disagreement until one side is proven right by what seems like undeniable evidence. This leads to acceptance of the new knowledge as fact. Comfort with our knowledge inevitably leads to periods of arrogance. We think that our knowledge is confirmed beyond any doubt and argue fiercely with those who contradict it only to realize in the next wave of discovery that what we know is not complete and sometimes not even correct. This cycle has always been our journey... The reason we so arrogantly believe in our knowledge is that out observation often validates it.... It's hard to imagine something new until new observations contradict our prior understanding... Only then do we revisit what we know and even start to wonder how we ever thought as we once did. How could we have missed what now seems so indisputably obvious? The kind of knowledge that turns out to be incomplete is the illusion that live with every day in science, politics, history, and even in our personal lives." "Because we truly know very little. Yet to summon the conviction we need to believe in our actions we convince ourselves that our knowledge is complete when in fact so much is missing." "Golden rule of happiness: choose to believe in the side that makes you happy."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    I enjoyed this book. Certainly didn't agree with all of it, but I thought he articulated some great principles in ways that I'd not heard so plainly said. Some interesting points that stood out to me: 1. You are not your thoughts - the narrative inside your head is distinct from you (which he insinuated was your soul?) 2. How much of you is your ego, how much of what you do, wear, say, etc, is to build a persona. The exercise he proposed was to stand in front of a mirror and take off anything you’ I enjoyed this book. Certainly didn't agree with all of it, but I thought he articulated some great principles in ways that I'd not heard so plainly said. Some interesting points that stood out to me: 1. You are not your thoughts - the narrative inside your head is distinct from you (which he insinuated was your soul?) 2. How much of you is your ego, how much of what you do, wear, say, etc, is to build a persona. The exercise he proposed was to stand in front of a mirror and take off anything you’re wearing just for show, not because of it’s utility or comfort… You could also do a much harder examination of everything you DO and SAY to see what is done and said because of appearances. This gets tricky for me, though, when I think about some of the things I do (like wear moderately nice clothes or sharing what I write) are in part for others and in part for ensuring I have opportunities I wouldn't have if I didn't keep up a certain level of display. If I dressed in baggy comfy sweats all day I'd be comfortable, but I wouldn't be nearly as likely, for example, to get the workplace respect that would lead to opportunities to work on things I'd really like to work on. I guess my thought is just that sometimes we do things for our personal brand that is for appearances so that we can do things that aren't for appearances. 3. You are NOT the star of the movie. You are a supporting actor in an infinite number of films. This is very “This is Water”y, but a cool take. Reminding me that I’m not the center of the universe. 4. In the same chapter he talked about in the grand scheme nothing is totally good or totally bad. Each thing that happens has immediate effects, but also has sort of butterfly, myriad, long-term consequences, some of which are good, some are bad to varying levels. Things are neither good or bad when looked at through this lens. Our classification of good things and bad things is crude and short-sighted.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Prachiti Talathi Gandhi

    What is Happiness? Is there any Secret to happiness? Is there any logical and step-by-step approach to Understanding happiness? Is there a Problem in being happy? Do we need to Solve that problem? I must say, that the answers to all these questions, are finally in one book – ‘Solve for Happy’ by Mo Gawdat. The author is the Chief Business Officer at Google [X]. While writing this book, he applied his skills of structural and logical thinking and he truly believes that being happy is the default What is Happiness? Is there any Secret to happiness? Is there any logical and step-by-step approach to Understanding happiness? Is there a Problem in being happy? Do we need to Solve that problem? I must say, that the answers to all these questions, are finally in one book – ‘Solve for Happy’ by Mo Gawdat. The author is the Chief Business Officer at Google [X]. While writing this book, he applied his skills of structural and logical thinking and he truly believes that being happy is the default state of one’s life, but we have forgotten to remain in that state. Mo has not suggested any specific method to follow to feel happy. He focuses on 6 Grand Illusions (Thought, Self, Knowledge, Time, Control and Fear), 7 Blind Spots (Filters, Assumptions, Predictions, Memories, Labels, Emotions and Exaggeration) and 5 Ultimate Truths (Now, Change, Love, Death and Design). If we make ourselves aware of these Illusions, Blind Spots and Ultimate Truths; we we can go back to our default setting of being happy. The book is written in conversational style, and gives the reader the feeling of speaking with the author. Mo has given some simple exercises in the book, and has suggested the reader take the time to understand what is really being said. Even if the reader is unaware of the fact that the author has an engineering background, it is quite clear that it has been written by a person who has a structured and algorithmic way of thinking. The problem has been addressed ‘slice by slice’ which helps the reader find his/her own solution. The book is not one among many self-help books, but gives a logical approach towards finding the solution. The cover of the book is different – a smiley with various mathematical equations, and it makes one wonder about its contents. Mo wrote this book after he lost his son Ali in 2014, an untimely death caused by medical negligence. Ali was always a happy and kind person, and was his father’s best friend, gaming buddy and also his guide. It was Ali’s positive energy that motivated Mo to write this book. I highly recommend it. Readers may visit http://www.solveforhappy.com/ to read more about the author.

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