Happiness is the absence of unhappiness, caused by the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of reality.
We’ve all heard that money can’t buy you happiness, though many people are still driven to pursue financial success as their primary goal. It’s no wonder, then, that they find themselves unhappy even when they appear to have everything. But what can be done about it? This is the question Gawdat grappled with himself, so he decided to apply his engineer’s mind to figuring out a formula for achieving happiness.
Let’s start by trying to understand what happiness is. Look at the semi-permanent joy of small children and toddlers and you could see that it is, in fact, our default state. Sure, it’s not all roses, but as long as they aren’t hungry or in pain, kids are generally happy. You could say that happiness is merely a lack of unhappiness.
But where does unhappiness come from? According to the author, it comes about when life doesn’t behave the way you expect it to. Here’s the formula that he came up with:
“Your happiness is equal to or greater than your perception of events minus your expectations of life”
This means that when you regard life’s events as the same or better than your expectations, then you’ll be happy because the twists and turns of life don’t frustrate you. But if your expectations are greater than the reality, they’ll subtract from your capacity for happiness.
Naturally, it’s not as clear-cut as this. You’re much more complicated than just happy or sad! Depending on the thoughts you allow to determine your expectations, your state of mind can range from total confusion to negativity and suffering, to positivity and happiness, all the way to absolute joy. The goal is to make that journey from the bottom to the top.
To prevent yourself from becoming confused and unhappy due to the gap between your expectations and reality, you’ll first need to discard the six grand illusions that leave you misinformed, which we’ll unmask in the following blog posts. So stay tuned!
- Book: Solve for Happy - Mo Gawdat