The content in today’s episode is inspired by a wonderful book called “Solve for Happy” by Mo Gawdat.
The Happiness Equation
After experiencing the tragic loss of his son after a routine surgery, Mo Gawdat needed to find a way to understand life and happiness.
He came at the problem with the mind of an engineer and developed his Happiness Equation:
Happiness > / = events – expectations
Happiness is greater than or equal to the events in your life minus your expectations.
Put simply, if the events in your life are as you’d expect or better than you’d expect, you feel happy. If not, you feel unhappy.
In the book, Mo Gawdat presents many ways to challenge our expectations and get us thinking differently about life. He blasts some of our underlying expectations and shows us how unrealistic and unhelpful many of our expectations are. Challenging our expectations is the first step finding happiness.
Solving your Happiness Equation
We aren’t all the same. We don’t live the same lives, we don’t have exactly the same expectations and we don’t perceive events in exactly the same way.
That means, the things I do to solve my happiness equation might not be the exact same things that work for you.
That’s why we look at the variables of the equation and explain what you’re looking to achieve in the creation of balance. From there, you can figure out where to place your focus in order to solve your happiness equation.
It’s important to note that no matter what you do with the equation, you cannot maintain a permanent state of happiness. One essential expectation in the pursuit of happiness is that we must expect to experience other emotions a lot of the time. Expecting anything else will likely contribute to much greater levels of unhappiness over time.
Habits for solving your Happiness Equation
- Use your emotions as a ‘cue’. Uncomfortable or unpleasant emotions are good indicators that one or more of your expectations has not been met.
- Take time to uncover the expectations beneath your feelings. This can be challenging as they often lie below the level of consciousness. When you have identified the expectations and can see how they’re feeing into the way you’re feeling, consider whether the expectations are realistic and helpful or whether they need updating in order to serve you better.
- If other people are involved, talk about your expectations and theirs so you can learn about each other and how each of you views the situation and the relationship. NOTE: This works best if you maintain openness and curiosity. The minute there is judgement or rejection, the conversation stalls or moves in an unproductive direction.
- Return to the Day 1 tip: Fatten the good. The things you focus on play an enormous role in determining whether or not you feel your expectations have been met. Our lives are complex. There is almost always more than 1 way to look at the world and your experience of it. Choose to find and focus on the things that buoy you up, keep you going, leave you feeling stronger and more resilient and ultimately make a greater contribution to your happiness.
Books and Podcasts mentioned in this Episode
Comments and Questions
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