This father lost his son, then wrote a book about joy

Star 2,  Canada

June 17, 2017

Mo Gawdat had it all. He was a high flyer in his homeland of Egypt who earned a lot of money from as early as his late 20s, which helped to support his loving wife and two children. It could be said that his life was the epitome of happiness.

But despite everything, Gawdat was completely miserable for years in his 20s and 30s. As an engineer, he had developed a mind-set of trying to control everyone and everything around him, and would constantly complain when life didn’t go his way.

Putting his pragmatic brain to good use, Gawdat – who is currently the chief business officer at Google X – decided to devote as much time as he could to discovering how happiness could be attained as a lasting state of being – in fact, he spent 10 years reading about happiness. But, as he says in a talk he gave at Google (, he “didn’t get it”. So, like any engineer worth his/her salt, he dedicated himself to solving the problem of happiness by scientific means.

“The way I did it was by literally taking as many data points as I could find of situations where I felt happy, and trying to find the thread line that ran between them,” he says in an e-mail interview.

“You can ask a million people around you, ‘What is happiness to you?’ and people will say things like, ‘Happiness is to see my daughter smile’, ‘Happiness is to be in nature’, ‘Happiness is to have a good cup of coffee’. All of those things are not conclusive – they’re reasons for happiness, but they’re not the pattern of happiness.”

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