For all his intellect, Mo Gawdat – GoogleX’s chief business officer – was probably unaware of the dual challenge of taking on an audience of not just New Yorkers, but Irish New Yorkers. We’re a truly broken bunch!
We carry both an achy nostalgia for the old country, all folksy and sepia tinted, along with a grit necessary for survival among the steel and glass canyons of the city we now call home. AND he had us on a wet Wednesday’s eve no less – fully immersed in all the heavy-duty clutter the middle of the work week brings.
But we sat and we listened and he spoke and…yep, something definitely lifted.
Mo’s quest is to make one billion people happy. This is pure Google in its audacity. But actually his ideas resonated with a room of professionals whose mere presence in this city may indict us for chasing wealth and status over wellness.
His fundamental equation for happiness is simple; Happiness = the way you think of events in your life, minus your expectations of how life should be. When we try to exceed these expectations, that’s when the unhappiness creeps in.
This is especially a problem in New York, where expectations are particularly high. Always. Socially and professionally. And most of the time we don’t even realize it. The allure and the danger of our noisy cosmopolitan is so prevalent, that there is constantly something to drown out and distract us from the fact we are discontent.
One of Mo’s points was that distraction is temporary; a patch-up job but not a solution. He invited us – challenged us – instead to actually acknowledge our feelings. To accept and embrace them, take ownership of them, and in his own words, to solve them for happy. Take the negativity and the unhappiness, and convert it into positive and happiness.
Mo is by trade an engineer and approaches this topic as such. The instilling of happiness in one billion people is actually of grave importance to him; he sees it as an essential part to our future prospering as a species. He clearly believes our current cultural hinges of competition and material wealth to be unsustainable and wants us to believe too. And believe we did – most of us at least!
Mo made us promise we would evangelize his message and pay it forward to two or more others. He also encouraged us to join OneBillionHappy.org to spread the message and make his mission a success.