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The Method

Heart and Wings  - Supporting your inner growth

We aim to support those who strive for inner growth in 3 very different ways:

- guided group sessions aimed at inner growth

- coaching in individual sessions

- providing solutions on a material level

Crossing the River

Mo Gawdat

Heart and Wings  - Supporting your inner growth

One of the great teachers of mind of our time, Mo Gawdats story is quite an unusual one.

Mo Gawdat is a former chief business officer of Google X, also known as 'the moonshot factory of Google', a place of great innovation. He is also known as an author, a podcaster, a founder of various businesses, and an extraordinay human being in general. His story of how he learned to be happy and how he found meaning even in the most difficult of period of his life, is inspiring beyond words. He made it his misson to share his formula for happiness with the world, and we are glad to bring our small contribution, sharing his story and the life lessons he learned, as an example to us all.

Mo was born in Egypt, in a middle-class family. His father was a civil engineer and his mother was an English professor. He was fascinated by technology from a young age, and loved reading. But there was not so much available to read, so he would wait for a book event to purchase those books which interested him most. He taught himself how to code when he was 12, and later studied computer engineering at Cairo University.

His career started at IBM Egypt, and his biggest ambition at the time was to someday become a manager at IBM. Early in his career, there was a big natural disaster in Egypt, and a lot of foreign aid poured in. As a result, there were many big contracts for rebuilding what was lost, and Mo managed to secure one with the government. But it did not sit right. He knew some of the IBM solutions were not ideal. Here something amazing happened. He decided to go to the ministry, clearly explaining which solutions would work and for which solutions they would better assign the order to someone else. In other words, he followed his principles rather than just his ambitions, fully expecting to get fired. But that is not what happened. Instead, his boss gave him a pass, only remarking that he would have preferred Mo to talk to him first.  More amazing, the ministry later came back to him, offering a much bigger contract, as he had gained their trust.

Later, he joined Google, and was entrusted with expanding Googles activities in new regions. This had a deep meaning to Mo, who as a child had trouble to find the books he wanted to read, as it meant he was helping to provide access to information to everyone who craved it. 

In 2013, he was invited to join Google X, the  division of Google that works on radical innovations, not starting from a solution which then had to be marketed and sold, but trying to solve problems for humanity and searching for any solution that could help fix them. Mo became the chief business officer, turning these crazy ideas into viable businesses.

Somewhere on this journey, despite his obvious success and wealth, he found he was not at all happy. He had always believed the story that was told to him: become successful, and then you will become happy. But that turned out to be false. On the outside he had everything. A great job, several nice cqrs which he absolutely loved, a beautiful and great wife and amazing children. In those days, he said, he was so good with algorithms, he could literally print money on demand by playing on the stock market.

But even so, he found himself stressed, anxious, and dissatisfied, even clinically depressed.

One day he lashed out at his daughter, and could not stand the person he had become.

He understood something was missing in his life, that something was deeply wrong.

He had been very happy before, when he was younger, but noticed that over the years, and despite his apparent success, he had become deeply unhappy.

As an engineer, he figured that this was the main problem that needed solving in his life and took his own special engineering approach to solving 'the happiness problem'. 

Mo realized that happiness is not a function of external factors, but of how we perceive them. He decided to apply his engineering skills to solve the problem of happiness, developing a mathematical formula, based on logic and science, to achieve happiness. For years he read everything he could on the subject, figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it. 

Whenever he felt he had discovered something valuable through his study, he discussed it with his son Ali. He describes Ali as his best friend, a little buddhist monk, always calm, always content and perfectly able to sense through the heart what his father struggled to comprehend through the mind. The result of this cooperation was a formula for happiness, which he felt could help anyone achieve happiness, regardless of their circumstances.

Then disaster struck.

Ali, his son, who was a brilliant, kind, and joyful young man, who shared his passion for technology, innovation and games, who Mo considered not only as his son but also as his best friend and coach, died unexpectedly in 2014. This was the ultimate test.

Ali died after a routine surgery went wrong. He was only 21 years old. And for Mo it was the most devastating event of his life. He felt like he lost everything.

But he also realized that he had a choice: to succumb to grief and despair, or to honor his sons memory and legacy by living the way he did: with happiness, gratitude, and love.

His daughter Aya told Mo about a dream Ali had shortly before he passed away. In the dream Ali felt he was everywhere and part of everything. Those words triggered something, and Mo took it upon himself to spread Ali's legacy, spread his joy, love, wisdom and his happiness to the world.

As his friends noticed how he handled his immense grief, and heard about his view, they were so impressed that several of them told him to write a book about it and share it to the world. 

The result was called 'Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy.' It was dedicated to his son, Ali, who was his best friend and his inspiration. Rather than to succumb to grief and despair, Mo chose to  honor his memory and legacy, using the formula for hapiness to cope with his loss and to find meaning in his pain. 

As a result, he founded a movement, called One Billion Happy, with the mission of spreading happiness to one billion people around the world. He believes that if we can make ourselves and others happy, we can create a more peaceful, harmonious, and sustainable world. His message is that happiness is not something that happens to you, but something that you can create for yourself. And when you do, it will change the world -  you can change the world​.

Crossing the River

Mo Gawdats happiness model suggests that we are all innately happy.

We are born happy, like new devices with all the right software installed.

But then, everyday life kicks in and some of that software gets overwritten. Bugs enter the software. Some of it is outright malware, destroying happiness.

To go back to happiness, we must find out what went wrong and overwrite those thoughts, ideas and assumptions which made us unhappy in the first place.

How then does a person become happy ? 

By following the equation for happiness: you are happy when your life meets or exceeds your expectations.

Adjust yourself and set realistic and flexible expectations for yourself and your situation, while being grateful for what you have.

To help us understand where the mistakes are and how we should overwrite the code that has made us miserable, Mo introduces the concepts of 5 fundamental truths, 6 illusions and 7 blind spots. 

The 6 illusions are the false beliefs that influence our thinking and make us unhappy. 

The illusion of thought:

we think our thoughts are the truth, when in fact they are only interpretations of reality.

We must learn to observe and relate to our thoughts without identifying with them or suffering through them. 

 

The illusion of self:

we think we have a separate and fixed self, when we are just a collection of roles, attributes and experiences.

We must learn to let go of our self-image and discover our true self, which is one with everything. 

 

The illusion of knowledge:

we think we know everything, while we know only a fraction of reality.

We must learn to recognize our knowledge as limited and incomplete, and be open to new insights and perspectives. 

 

The illusion of time:

we think time is linear and measurable, while it is only a mental construct.

We must learn to see time as relative and flexible, and not as a source of stress or anxiety. 

 

The illusion of control:

we think we have control over our lives, when we only have influence over some aspects of it.

We must learn to let go of control and adapt to circumstances without resisting or complaining about them. 

 

The illusion of fear:

we think fear protects us, when in fact it limits and paralyzes us.

We must learn to see fear as a signal and not a reality, and deal with it courageously.

The 5 fundamental truths are the basic principles that help us accept reality as it is, without fighting it or suffering from it.  

 

The truth of change:

nothing stays the same, everything is subject to change.

We must learn to adapt to change and welcome it as opportunities for growth. 

The truth of now:

the present is the only moment that truly exists. The past is past and the future is uncertain.

We must learn to live in the now and enjoy it fully. 

The truth of love:

love is the essence of our existence. We are all connected by love and we all need love to be happy.

We must learn to love unconditionally, without expectations or judgments. 

The truth of death:

death is inevitable and unpredictable.

We must learn to accept death as a natural part of life and not be afraid of it. 

The truth of design:

life has a purpose and a plan for us.

We must learn to surrender to design and trust that everything happens for a reason.

The 7 blind spots are the cognitive errors our brain makes when processing information.  

 

The blind spot of filtering:

we selectively filter the information we receive, ignoring or amplifying some aspects.

We must learn to make our filters conscious and adapt them to the situation. 

 

The blind spot of assumptions:

we fill the gaps in our knowledge with assumptions, sometimes drawing wrong conclusions.

We must learn to check our assumptions against the facts and adjust them if necessary. 

The blind spot of forecasting:

we predict the future based on our experiences, which sometimes leads us to have unrealistic expectations.

We need to learn to base our predictions on probability and revise them if necessary. 

 

The blind spot of generalizing:

we generalize the information we have, sometimes making incorrect connections.

We must learn to specify and nuance our generalizations and back them up with evidence. 

 

The blind spot of labeling:

we label the people and things we encounter, sometimes creating biases and stereotypes.

We must learn to avoid or change our labels, seeing them as temporary and changeable. 

 

The blind spot of emotionalizing:

we allow our emotions to color our perceptions, sometimes causing us to react irrationally or impulsively.

We must learn to recognize and regulate our emotions, and see them as reactions rather than facts. 

 

The blind spot of exaggerating:

we exaggerate the meaning or importance of the information we have, which sometimes causes us to dramatize or catastrophize.

We must learn to downplay and correct our exaggerations, seeing them as perspectives rather than realities.

 

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