Introduction: Solve for Happy

//Introduction: Solve for Happy

The gravity of the battle means nothing to those at peace.

 For Ali

I am sure you’re happy wherever you are now

Seventeen days after the death of my wonderful son, Ali, I began to write and couldn’t stop. My topic was happiness—an unlikely subject given the circumstances.

Ali truly was an angel. He made everything he touched better and everyone he met happier. He was always peaceful, always happy. You couldn’t miss his energy or how he affectionately cared for every being that ever crossed his path. When he left us, there was every reason to be unhappy—even miserable. So how did his departure lead me to write what you’re about to read? Well, that’s a story that started around the date of his birth—perhaps even earlier.

Since the day I started working, I have enjoyed a great deal of success, wealth, and recognition. Yet through it all, I was constantly unhappy. Early in my career with tech giants like IBM and Microsoft I gained an abundance of intellectual satisfaction, plenty of ego gratification, and, yes, I made a bit of money. But I found that the more fortune blessed me, the less happy I became.

This wasn’t just because life had become complicated—you know, like that rap song from the 90s, “Mo Money Mo Problems.” The issue was that, despite the rewards both financial and intellectual, I was not able to find any joy in my life. Even my greatest blessing, my family, didn’t give me the joy they might have because I didn’t know how to receive it.

The irony was that as a younger man, despite the struggle to find my path in life and often just trying to make ends meet, I’d always been very happy. But by 1995, when my wife and I and our two children packed up and moved to Dubai, things had changed. Nothing against Dubai, mind you. It’s a remarkable city whose generous citizens, the Emiratis, truly made us feel at home. Our arrival coincided with the breakout point of Dubai’s explosive growth, which offered astounding career opportunities and millions of ways to make yourself happy, or at least try.

But Dubai can also feel surreal. Against a gleaming landscape of hot sand and turquoise water, the skyline is crowded with futuristic office buildings and residential towers where multimillion-dollar apartments are snapped up by a steady stream of global buyers. In the streets, Porsches and Ferraris jockey for parking spaces with Lamborghinis and Bentleys. The extravagance of the concentrated wealth dazzles you— but at the same time it tempts you to question whether, compared to all this, you’ve actually achieved much of anything.

By the time we arrived in the Emirates, I’d already fallen into the habit of comparing myself to my superrich friends and always coming up short. But those feelings of one-downs-man-ship didn’t send me to the shrink or to the ashram. Instead it made me strive harder. I simply did what I’d always done as a geek who’d read obsessively since childhood: I bought a pile of books. I studied technical analyses of stock trends down to the basic equations that plotted every chart. And by learning them I could predict shortterm fluctuations in the market like a pro. I would come home after finishing my day job at just about the time the NASDAQ opened in the United States and apply my math skills to making serious money as a day trader (or more accurately in my case, a night trader).

And yet—and I expect I’m not the first person you’ve heard tell this tale—the “mo’ money” I made, the more miserable I became. Which led me to simply work harder and buy more toys on the misguided assumption that, sooner or later, all this effort was going to pay off and I’d find the pot of gold—happiness—thought to lie at the end of the high-achievement rainbow. I’d become a hamster on what psychologists call the “hedonic treadmill.” The more you get, the more you want. The more you strive, the more reasons you discover for striving. One evening I went online and with two clicks bought two vintage Rolls Royces. Why? Because I could. And because I was desperately trying to fill the hole in my soul. You won’t be surprised to hear that when those beautiful classics of English automotive styling arrived at the curb, they didn’t lift my mood one bit.

Looking back at this phase in my life, I wasn’t much fun to be around. My work was focused on expanding the business of Microsoft throughout Africa and the Middle East, which, as you might imagine, had me spending more time in airplanes than not. In my constant quest for more I’d become pushy and unpleasant even at home, and I knew it. I spent too little time appreciating the remarkable woman I’d married, too little time with my wonderful son and daughter, and never paused to enjoy each day as it unfolded.

Instead I spent most of my waking hours being driven, nervous, and critical, demanding achievement and performance even from my kids. I was manically trying to make the world conform to the way I thought it ought to be. By 2001 the relentless pace and the emptiness had led me into a very dark place.

At that point I knew I couldn’t go on ignoring the problem. This pushy, unhappy person staring back at me in the mirror wasn’t really me. I missed the happy, optimistic young man I’d always been, and I was tired of trudging along in this tired, miserable, aggressive-looking guy’s shoes. I decided to take on my unhappiness as a challenge: I would apply my geek’s approach to self-study, along with my engineer’s analytical mind, to digging my way out.

Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, where my mother was a professor of English literature, I’d started devouring books long before my first day of school. Beginning at the age of eight, I chose a topic of focus each year and bought as many books as my budget could afford. I would spend the rest of the year learning every word in every book. This obsessiveness made me a joke to my friends, but the habit stuck with me as my approach to all challenges and ambitions. Whenever life turned tough, I read.

I went on to teach myself carpentry, mosaics, guitar, and German. I read up on special relativity, studied game theory and mathematics, and I learned to develop highly sophisticated computer programming. As a kid in grade school, and then as a teenager, I approached my piles of books with single-minded dedication. As I grew older, I applied that same passion for learning to classic car restoration, cooking, and hyperrealistic charcoal portraits. I achieved a reasonable level of proficiency in business, management, finance, economics, and investment mainly just from books.

When things get tough we tend to do more of what we know how to do best. So, in my thirties and miserable, I submerged myself in reading about my predicament. I bought every title I could find on the topic of happiness. I attended every lecture, watched every documentary, and then diligently analyzed everything I’d learned. But I didn’t approach the subject from the same perspective as the psychologists who’d written the books and conducted the experiments that had made “happiness research” such a hot academic discipline. Certainly I didn’t follow in the slipstream of all the philosophers and theologians who’d struggled with the problem of human happiness since civilization began.

In keeping with my training, I broke the problem of happiness down into its smallest components and applied an engineering analysis. I adopted a facts-driven approach that would be scalable and replicable. Along the way, I challenged every process I’d been told to blindly implement, tested the fit of every moving part, and looked deeply into the validity of every input as I worked to create an algorithm that would produce the desired result. As a software developer, I set a target to find the code that could be applied to my life again and again to predictably deliver happiness every time.

Oddly enough, after all this hyperrational effort worthy of Mr. Spock, I found my first real breakthrough during a casual conversation with my mother. She’d always told me to work hard and to prioritize my financial success above all. She frequently invoked an Arabic proverb that, loosely translated, meant “Eat frugally for a year and dress frugally for another, and you’ll find happiness forever.” As a young man I’d followed that advice religiously. I’d worked hard and saved and I’d become successful. I’d fulfilled my side of the bargain. So one day I went to ask my mom: Where was all that happiness I now had a right to expect?

During that conversation, it suddenly hit me that happiness shouldn’t be something you wait for and work for as if it needs to be earned. Furthermore, it shouldn’t depend on external conditions, much less circumstances as fickle and potentially fleeting as career success and rising net worth. My path till then had been full of progress and success, but every time I’d gained yardage on that field, it was as if they moved the goal posts back a little farther.

What I realized was that I would never get to happiness as long as I held on to the idea that as soon as I do this or get that or reach this benchmark I’ll become happy.

In algebra, equations can be solved in many ways. If A=B+C, for example, then B=A–C. If you try to solve for A, you would look for the values of the other two parameters—B and C—and if you tried to solve for B, you would be taking different steps. The parameter you choose to solve for drastically changes your approach to the solution. The same is true when you decide to solve for happy.

I began to see that throughout all my striving I’d been trying to solve the wrong problem. I’d set myself the challenge of multiplying material wealth, fun, and status so that, eventually, the product of all that effort would be . . . happiness. What I really needed to do instead was to skip the intermediate steps and simply solve for happiness itself. My journey took almost a decade, but by 2010 I’d developed an equation and a well-engineered, simple, and replicable model of happiness and how to sustain it that fit together perfectly.

I put the system to the test and it worked. Stress from losing a business deal, long security lines at the airport, bad customer service— none of it could dim my happiness. Daily life as a husband, parent, son, friend, and employee had its inevitable ups and downs, but no matter how any particular day went, good or bad—or a little of each—I found that I was able to enjoy the ride of the roller coaster itself.

I’d finally returned to being the happy person I recognized as the “me” when I first started out, and there I remained for quite a while. I shared my rigorous process with hundreds of friends, and my Happiness Equation worked for them as well. Their feedback helped me refine the model even further. Which, as it turned out, was a good thing, because I had no idea just how much I was going to need it.

My father was a distinguished civil engineer and an exceptionally kind man. Though my passion had always been computer science, I studied civil engineering just to please him. My field of study was not the biggest contribution to my education anyway because, as my father believed, learning takes place in the real world. Ever since I was in secondary school my father had encouraged me to spend each vacation in a different country. At first he squeezed every cent to make these experiences happen for me, and he made arrangements for me to visit with family or friends as I traveled. Later I worked to support the cost of my trips on my own. Those real-world experiences were so valuable that I vowed to offer a similar opportunity to my kids.

As luck would have it, my choice of university offered me the greatest benefit and blessing of those student days. I came to know a charming, intelligent woman named Nibal. A month after her graduation we married, and one year later she became Umm Ali, mother of Ali J, as women are called in the Middle East when their first child is born. Eighteen months after that, our daughter, Aya, came along to become the sunshine and the irrepressible, energizing force within our family. With Nibal, Ali, and Aya in my life, my good fortune knew no bounds. My love for my family drove me to work hard to provide the best life I could for them. I took on life’s challenges like a charging rhino.

In 2007 I joined Google. Despite the company’s success, its global reach was limited at that point, so my role was to expand our operations into Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Six years later I moved over to Google X, now a separate entity known as X, where I eventually became the chief business officer. At X, we don’t try to achieve incremental improvements in the way the world works; instead, we try to develop new technologies that will reinvent the way things are. Our goal is to deliver a radical, tenfold—10X—improvement. This leads us to work on seemingly scifi ideas such as autonomous carbon fiber kites to serve as airborne wind turbines, miniature computers built into contact lenses that capture physiological data and communicate wirelessly with other computers, and balloons to carry telecom technology into the stratosphere to provide Internet service to every human anywhere in the world. At X, we call these “moonshots.”

When you’re seeking modest improvement in what exists, you start working with the same tools and assumptions, the same mental framework on which the old technology is based. But when the challenge is to move ahead by a factor of ten, you start with a blank slate. When you commit to a moonshot, you fall in love with the problem, not the product. You commit to the mission before you even know that you have the ability to reach it. And you set audacious goals. The auto industry, for example, has been focused on safety for decades. They made consistent incremental progress by adding improvements to the traditional design of a car—the design we’ve all gotten used to since the early 1900s. Our approach at X is to begin by asking, “Why let an accident happen in the first place?” That’s when we commit to the moonshot: a self-driving car.

Meanwhile, with my happiness model working well, and as I was deriving great pleasure from my career, doing my part to help invent the future, my son and daughter were learning and growing and, in keeping with my father’s tradition, traveling to new places every summer. They had plenty of friends to visit across the globe, and they were always out exploring.

In 2014 Ali was a college student in Boston, and that year he had a long trip planned across North America, so we weren’t expecting him to make it home to Dubai for his usual visit. I was pleasantly surprised, then, in May, when he called to say he felt an overwhelming desire to come and spend a few days with us. For some reason he felt a sense of urgency, and he asked if we could book him a flight home as soon as school was over. Aya was planning to visit too, so Nibal and I were happy beyond belief. We made the arrangements and eagerly looked forward to the joy of having the whole family together in July.

Four days after he arrived, Ali suffered an acute belly pain and was admitted to a local hospital, where the doctors prescribed a routine appendectomy. I wasn’t concerned. In fact, I was relieved that this was happening while he was home so we could take care of him. The vacation might not have been going as I’d imagined, but the change in plans was easy enough to accommodate.

When Ali was on the operating table, a syringe was inserted to blow in carbon dioxide to expand his abdominal cavity and clear space for the rest of the procedure. But the needle was pushed just a few millimeters too far, puncturing Ali’s femoral artery—one of the major vessels carrying blood from the heart. Then things went from bad to worse. Precious moments slipped by before anyone even realized the blunder, and then a series of additional mistakes were made with fatal consequence. Within a few hours, my beloved son was gone.

Before we could even begin to absorb the enormity of what had happened, Nibal, Aya, and I were surrounded by friends who helped us handle the practicalities and supported us while we struggled to comprehend the sharp turn our lives had just taken.

Losing a child, they say, is the hardest experience anyone can endure. It certainly shakes every parent to the core. Losing Ali at his prime was harder still, and losing him unexpectedly to preventable human error may have been the very hardest thing of all.

But for me, the loss was even worse because Ali was not just my son but also my best friend. He had been born when I was quite young, and I felt as if we’d grown up together. We played video games together, listened to music together, read books together, and laughed a lot together. At eighteen Ali was noticeably wiser than many men I knew. He was a support and a confidant. At times I even found myself thinking, When I grow up, I want to be just like Ali.”

Although all parents see their children as exceptional, I honestly believe that Ali truly was. When he left us, we received messages from all over the world, from hundreds of people who described how this twenty-one-year-old had changed their lives. Some of the people who wrote were in their teens, and some were well into their seventies. How Ali had found the time and wisdom to touch the lives of so many people, I’ll never know. He was a role model for peacefulness, happiness, and kindness. And he had a sense of presence that spread those characteristics abundantly along his path. Once, I watched from a distance as he sat down next to a homeless person and spoke to her at length. He acknowledged her as a fellow human worthy of connection, then emptied his pockets and gave her everything he had. As he walked away she caught up to him, searched deep in her sack, and gave him what must have been her most valued possession: a small unopened plastic container of hand cream. That gift became one of Ali’s dearest treasures. Now it’s one of ours.

But now, because of a medical error, I’d lost him in the blink of an eye. Whatever I’d learned about happiness was going to be put to the test. I thought that if I could save myself and my family from the deepest depths of depression, I could count it as a great success.

But we did much better than that.

When Ali left our world so suddenly, his mother and I, as well as our daughter, felt profound grief. The pain of missing him still lingers, of course, and we regularly shed tears that he’s no longer available for a hug, a chat, or a video game. The pain we feel drives us to honor his memory and wish him well. Remarkably, though, we’ve been able to maintain a steady state of peace—even happiness. We have sad days, but we don’t suffer. Our hearts are content, even joyful.

Simply put, our happiness model came through for us. Even during the moments of our most intense grief over Ali’s passing, we were never angry or resentful of life. We didn’t feel cheated or depressed. We went through the most difficult event imaginable just as Ali would: in peace.

At Ali’s memorial, hundreds of people filled our home to pay their respects while a huge overflow crowd waited outside in the 110-degree heat of Dubai’s summer. They just would not leave. It was an exceptional memorial, in all ways built around the happiness that Ali had radiated throughout his life. People showed up in tears but quickly blended into the positive energy of the event. They wept in our arms, but when we talked, and when they came to understand our view of these events, which was informed by our happiness model, they stopped weeping. They walked around the house admiring the hundreds of photographs of Ali (always with a big smile) on every wall. They tried some of his favorite snacks set out on tables, or picked up an item of his as a souvenir, and remembered all the happy memories he’d given them.

There was so much love and positivity in the air, countless hugs and smiles, that by the end of the day, if you didn’t know the circumstances, you might have thought this was just a happy gathering of friends—a wedding maybe, or a graduation. Even in these distressing circumstances, Ali’s positive energy filled our home.

In the days after the memorial, I found myself preoccupied with the thought What would Ali do in this situation? All of us who knew Ali went to him regularly for advice, but he was no longer with us. I desperately wanted to ask him, “Ali, how do I handle losing you?” even though I knew his answer. He would just say, “Khalas ya papa”—It’s over, Dad—“I’ve already died. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best out of it.” In moments of quiet, I could hear no other voice in my head but Ali’s repeating these sentences over and over.

And so, seventeen days after his death, I began to write. I decided to follow Ali’s advice and do something positive, to try to share our model of happiness with all of those who are needlessly suffering around the world. Four and a half months later I raised my head. I had a first draft. I’m not a sage or a monk hiding away in a monastery. I go to work, fight in meetings, make mistakes—big mistakes that have hurt those I love, and for that I feel sorrow. In fact, I’m not even always happy. But I found a model that works—a model that had seen us through our grief, the model that Ali’s life helped generate through his example. This is what I want to offer you in this book.

My hope is that by sharing Ali’s message—his peaceful way of living—I may be able to honor his memory and continue his legacy. I tried to imagine the positive impact spreading this message could create, and I wondered if maybe it is not for nothing that I have a high-profile job with global reach. So I took on an ambitious mission: to help ten million people become happier, a movement (#10million happy) that I ask you to join so that together we can create a small-scale global pandemic of Ali-style joy.

Ali’s death was a blow I never could have expected, but when I look back, I feel that he somehow knew. Two days before his unexpected departure, he sat us all down as a wise grandfather would gather his children and said he had something important to share. He said he understood that it might seem odd for him to offer advice to his parents but that he felt compelled to do it. Usually Ali spoke very little, but now he took his time and spent most of it telling Nibal, Aya, and me what he loved most about us. He thanked us kindly for what we had contributed to his life. His words warmed our hearts, and then he asked each of us to do some specific things.

His request to me was “Papa, you should never stop working. Keep making a difference and rely on your heart more often. Your work here is not done.” He then paused for a few seconds, sat back in his chair—as if to say But now my work here is done—and said, “That’s it. I have nothing more to say.”

This book is my attempt to fulfill the task assigned to me by my happiness idol. For as long as I live, I will make global happiness my personal mission, my moonshot for Ali.

By |2018-04-02T22:57:30+00:00January 6th, 2018|21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Kristina Loguinova March 21, 2018 at 1:10 am - Reply

    Dear Mo,

    Thank you for sharing your story and for using your platform to disseminate a value-driven message. I think life is one big experience (some refer to life as one big lesson but I disagree with such a conceptualisation as I think that deep down we already know everything); we are simply the audience and should just sit back and enjoy the spectacle unfolding before us. We should just be happy.

    The members of the Happy Office at the Free University of Brussels are exactly that. We are happy and are researching how to contribute to global happiness in our respective fields. In short, the Happy Office members are with you on your mission. All for one and one for all!

  2. Darren Meade March 21, 2018 at 2:10 am - Reply

    Happy Tuesday Mo! I just read your article: ‘The gravity of the battle means nothing to those at peace’ and of course also met through your words the wonderful human-being, your son, Ali. As a son was 18, when he lost his father, your words about your son are beautiful and will impact both children and adults in incredible ways. I look forward to reading your book.

    Also, the title of ‘The gravity of the battle means nothing to those at peace’ is true and powerful. I had been criminally charged in the USA for criticizing an elected official over my belief he wrongfully sentenced a young mother for saving her life and that of her three young children in a deadly home invasion. I faced 25 years in prison unless I retracted my articles, I never met the woman, but I refused, and was exonerated in court. Friends and colleagues couldn’t understand why I would risk it all and more importantly were bothered that I seemed happy and at peace. I will spread your writings and websites as far as I am able. Thank you for your work.

    In the meantime, thank you for introducing me to Ali.

    Warmly,

    Darren

    “Papa, you should never stop working. Keep making a difference and rely on your heart more often. Your work here is not done.” He then paused for a few seconds, sat back in his chair—as if to say But now my work here is done—and said, “That’s it. I have nothing more to say.”

  3. Ron Hartley March 21, 2018 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Sorry for your loss. Truly inspiring. Im glad to be here and hope i can help you with your fufill your task.

  4. Massis March 21, 2018 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    I have just joined the movement
    Ready to help and be happy

  5. Neil Robinson March 21, 2018 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    A great idea borne out of personal experience. But is happiness a first world solution to a first world problem, that of me me me? In today’s world, perhaps if we did more for those less fortunate our hearts would be enriched and our souls happier.

  6. Ana Claudia Safar Oliveira March 22, 2018 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Hey there from Brazil!. Lately, I feel an enormous gratitude for so many blessings in my life. I can really say I AM Happy. But, having access to your story and mission, I came up with the conclusion that I only feel that way because life has so far, meeting my expectations. What if something non-expected occurs? How am I going to react and act on that…
    I will read your book to help me reflect on that…
    In the meantime, sharing your ideas and mission as much as possible.

  7. Zaki Mohcine March 22, 2018 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Very inspiring and thank you for spreading the happiness

  8. Bridget McNulty March 22, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

    An extraordinary story – thank you for sharing it and for starting this movement. It’s reached South Africa already!

  9. Ahmed March 22, 2018 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story

    Allah Yerham Ali Wo Yehsen Eleeh

    I’m in to your milestone happiness

  10. Lincoln Birch March 22, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Dear Mo,
    thank you for sharing a significant part of your story.

    Doing the right thing is the only option.

    It would be nice to share with you the method which we efucate to people to improve their life fundamentally.

    Our work has focussed with people in Scandinavia so far, but maybe there are aspects that could be useful to your effort. …we are after all in the same boat.

    Wishes to you
    Lincoln Birch

    #pernilledamore #damoreology #damoresolution #lincolnbirch

  11. Skip Middleton March 23, 2018 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Helping others, especially by surprise, brings such internal gratitude and infectious satisfaction- more than any drug, drink or physical satisfaction- that one becomes an addict almost immediately. This is how I find happiness.

  12. John Antonios March 23, 2018 at 8:25 am - Reply

    “To be a billionaire is the ability to positively touch the lives of a billion people!” – I’m not sure where I heard it before, but it touched me then as your story has touched me now. Since that day I’ve decided to become a billionaire … that kind of rich! I would have loved to have met Ali, and pick his brain or more so his heart. He must have been truly wonderful – he was certainly a man with a mission – help dad fuel his moonshot! By sharing Ali’s story, in turn you have exponentially increased the fuel reserve for that moonshot!
    I would love to help make that happen, I’m ready!

  13. Velova March 23, 2018 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Hi, you truly seem to have found a way to be at peace. I find it very kind of you to try to share it to the world. In that regard, why don’t you make the document available for everyone freely directly on this site?

  14. Mo Guimaraes March 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Dear Mo,

    You write beautifully, I was in tears while reading this, but good tears. Happiness is something I also struggle with (as I think most people probably do). We are taught very little about what it means and how to be “it” while growing up. However, I suppose that is also part of the journey :). I look forward to reading your book, and I hope I can help spread your message in any way I can. Thank you for doing what you do and sharing your story.

  15. Ian March 23, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, this made me tear up at points but also filled me with joy at certain parts that warmed my heart 🙂 Thank you for all that you are doing!

  16. Lalatiana March 23, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    I am so happy to come in this page! Thank you for sharing your story! I have a year in my eye but swiftly wept it after having read this! Lool forward to reading your book and will do my best to make people happy!

  17. Michael March 26, 2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Thank you Mo for sharing your story. You remind me of Wayne Dyer who said our purpose should be “How may I serve?”. I’ll join you in this quest.

  18. Rick March 29, 2018 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you Moe, truly an inspirational story, thank you for sharing, Ali spirit is now a part of us and for that I am thankful. I am now part of the happiness movement.
    Cheers!

  19. Pat Seynaeve March 31, 2018 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve read your story
    I write to you in the hope that you are actually looking for solutions and want to help make life on this planet better for everyone. If you want to bring happiness for 1 bilion people, why not bringing it for everyone.
    Excuse me to blame the lucky people like you, who are the cause of lot of misery of others, but the reason i write this is you said: “and yes, I made a bit of money. Why you didn’t admit you made a lot of money, with working hard, but also with speculation and investing your money in the wrong things. Why rich people never invest to solve poverty?
    I hope you’ll continue to the end cause there are solutions. But poor people like me don’t have any network to promote their idees, although we know the situation very good.
    You have been fortunate to have been born in a rich environment, in a family who had the chance to educate you and let you study.
    You never had any hardship and you have been taught to work hard.
    From an early age you renounced self-thinking and pumped yourself full with other people’s ideas and wisdom through the many books you have read.
    Although all people were born with an intuitive goodness and knowledge.
    With all that book wisdom you have chosen for yourself a path that was already determined by your destiny, the condition where you were born, the path of a rich youngster, brought up with much love and care in an overprotected environment. You knew undoubtedly at a young age that the majority are born poor and their further life will be abused as a slave to let the richer class continues their luxurious life.

    And yet you found it perfectly normal to play a pioneering role in this system.
    Strange that such talented people like you do not engage with others who do not have so much luck and fail to think outside their own situation. How can you find happiness in a world where people are collecting money on the back of the poor to buy their happiness. Your motive is purely egoistic, you collected so much wealth that an entire continent can survive and you refuse to share, and you ignore, despite the great poverty that you have undoubtedly seen during your many journeys, the hopeless poverty and poignant inequality of the majority of the world’s population.
    Thanks to Ali, your son, who grew up with so much love and therefore tried to pass on that love to others who have had to miss that love
    He has tried to open your eyes to the misery of so many, that you may share your surpluses with those who have nothing, or at least with all your talents, a solution to global inequality, poverty and exploitation.
    But for that we have to find the causes that sustain all that misery.
    And those causes are: egoism, greed and apathy.
    Because of the economic system that the West has forced everywhere, unfortunately many people died. War, exploitation, crime, … and mistakes due to the high workload.
    Because everything is privatized and therefore has to make profit, because people like you park their surplus money with financial companies that want to make this money grow as much as possible. Through this profit addiction, doctors, in privatized hospitals, have to operate as many patients as possible in as short a time as possible with as few assistants as possible, at the lowest possible wage. Only in this way can surpluses give a lot of return and that is what people want.
    But they forget that such system don’t bother humans, the victims are collateral damage for that system.
    So I can rightly wonder if you really understood Ali’s message, and that this project is not business as usual.
    If we manage to change the economy to a doughnut economy that Kate Raworth describes in her book, society could offer a happier existence for billions of people.
    The search for happiness is a selfish activity that forces many people to behave like a hamster that collects as much money and materialistic comfort as possible, largely at the cost of other people’s happiness. The indifference towards the victims with whom those fortune-hunters work, makes them never find true happiness.
    You cite the First World War and other events as rare unlikely accidents, but you ignore the greedness of big financial powers that are keen on the big profits that arms production and arms trade produce when they’re starting wars.
    Just as butterflies, due to their small air turbulence, are capable of affecting a hurricane, the pursuit of ever more, the growth of money surpluses, has a major influence on the lives of all people and on the state of this planet. An old saying says: you get what you give.
    I understand that you only write and think from your own environment and situation, but it still surprises me that a intellectual and traveled person can not think from the position of a hopeless person.

    Let us tell you a story:
    In the North of Nigeria, a family lives together peacefully in a small village community. A man and his wife, with a son and a daughter who work daily with the other villagers to grow cooperative food. The young people fantasize about the wealth and materialism of the West and also long for such a life.
    Life is becoming increasingly difficult because the climate disruption means that less rain falls and that the temperature rises. It is becoming increasingly difficult to grow food and some young people decide to take their chance and join the migration flow to Europe. The parents do not want this, but the son sees it as his duty to ensure the future for his parents and his sister. His sister wants to go also, but the son can convince her to stay at home. The son leaves with his friends and starts his heavy journey through desert territory, full of danger. They have already received the savings to pay the traffickers. They manage to avoid the robbers by erasing their tracks in the sand. In Libya they find the traffickers who have heard that they are honest. But they are noticed by a police patrol and imprisoned. The trafficker who left the money with his family can save his skin by leaving the group in the hands of the police and is being driven away. The police bring the group of overtired refugees to a collection center. They are locked up with others. The next day they are put on trucks and taken to a place where they are sold to slave traders who will oblige them to work for a little food, or to criminals who will try to demand hostage ransom for their relatives at home by torturing them. The women are raped and sold as sex slaves. Those who resist are beaten and tortured and cruelly murdered.

    How can we remain indifferent to those people who have grown up in the love of their village community and who have taken the risk of taking this dangerous journey for the good of their village community. The goodness these people had built up is turned into hatred by the many unjust violence. When these people are released they bear the evil that happened to them. And yet many succeed in letting good things prevail over their hatred. These are the heroes we must honor.

    We are the only living species who are aware of good and evil and can make our own choice, over and over again, to do good or to do evil. Some think they are doing well and despite their intelligence can not judge the consequences of their actions. It is those who are blind and whose eyes we can open. What can be the solutions to improve the state of people around the world?
    The economic system must change into a doughnut economy so that surpluses are used to help others become a good life. These surpluses can then be used by an international institution under the authority of the UN, such as unesco, to provide a basic income for everyone in this world, starting with the developing countries.

    The UN implemented two years ago the Sustainable Development Goals and asked to the cities all over the world to support it.
    We have to ask the leaders of our cities to search collaboration with other cities all over the world to force the UN to make work for a Global Basic Income for everyone on this planet.
    Therefore it would be good to reform the UN and abolish the veto right. Another possibility is to start a new international organisation with nations who support the idea of international solidarity by giving a basic income directly to the people.
    That basis income have to be given directly to the people, above the heads of governments and local chiefs.
    At can be given in a virtual crypto coin via a cellphone. You can only pay basic needs, mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
    The daily amount is for everybody the same and have to prevent poor people falling in slavery or exploitation and therefore needs a update every 6 months. (The World Bank updated the international poverty line to $1.90 a day)
    To compensate the difference between regions, a second level of basic income have to be implemented for the continental unions (Pan-African Union, European Union, …)
    A third level of basic income can then be implemented by the countries themselves.
    That way, organising can be keep simple, every level have to use their taxes and incomes to finance their level of basis income.
    Especially the UN have to start to collect taxes on multinationals, financial transactions and arms trade.
    This way poverty, slavery and exploitation can be stopped, people can survive in their hometowns and start a local economy.
    Special attention we must be aware for fraudulent manipulation.
    To protect children and to have a positive effect at the global ecological impact of humans on population growth, the basic incomes for children have to be used for education purposes, maintaining schools and paying their teachers.
    When we succeed in this we can live in a world with open frontiers, where there is automatic a global transition to fair trade and more equality.

    If you too wants to live in a world where everybody have the possibility to live happy, then please support this idee, rewrite it, promote it … or tell me why it isn’t a good idee.
    Thanks

  20. GopiKrishan Bali April 4, 2018 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Dear MO

    Good to see that the HAPPINESS TRIBE is evolving/expanding and people like you are taking steps to impact society.

    Already initiated the process here in India #AHhaLife! (Academy of Happiness for Holistic Abundance in Life!) Target 1 million #Happions (Happy Abundant People) by 2020.

    Every being counts, this might be a like a drop in the ocean, but we are sure together when 1 million Happy Beings will Think:Feel:Act for raising ‘Global Happiness Quotient’ the Collective target of 10 Billons Happy beings is surely achievable.

    We are 100% with all with our head, heart and hands 🙂 MO, Please plan and let’s Co-Create something exclusive in India for spreading Happiness. With You Always! 🙂

    GopiKrishan Bali
    Chief Happiness Catalyst
    #AHhaLife!
    #HappinessHappens

  21. Jed Diamond April 15, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Mo, I feel a special connection with you and Ali and all the fathers and children that are connected here. My Big X commitment came on November 21, 1969, when my son, Jemal, was born. After 24 hour labor my wife was ready to be wheeled into the delivery room. I had been coaching her through the Lamaze breathing exercises we had learned in class, but now that our child was ready to be born, the doctor asked me to wait in the waiting room. I knew the rules. I hugged and kissed my wife. “I’ll see you and the baby soon,” I told her. But as I walked out the doors to the waiting room, I couldn’t go through them. Some force, which I later realized was my unborn son, was calling to me. “I don’t want a waiting room Dad. I don’t care what the doctor told you. I want my dad here with us.” I came through the delivery room door. There was no question of leaving if asked and with the look on my face, no one dared to ask. Shortly thereafter my son was born and they handed him to me. At that moment, as I looked down in his beautiful face, with tears running down my face, I made a vow to him. “I promise never to be a waiting room dad. I will be the kind of father my father was never able to be for me and I’ll do everything I can to bring about a world where fathers are fully engaged with their families, where the depression that had undermined my own father’s life was eliminated from the lives of millions, perhaps, billions, throughout the world. I’ve been working since then through my center MenAlive. My weekly newsetter now goes out to more than 3.5 million readers. I look forward to connecting with others here who want to join Mo Gawdat as all of us commit ourselves to the world we want to live in and the world we want our children, grandchildren, and all future generations to live in.

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