Often limited to the private sphere, happiness is no longer just an individual matter. No. Happiness has become a science, an industry and a real economic concern. Following the example of Silicon Valley giants like Google or Netflix – which have cultivated well-being at work for many many years – the trend is picking up speed in France and Europe: rising emergence of Chief Happiness Officers, appreciation for the organizational structure of startups, implementation of benefits such as telecommuting or other employee wellbeing advantages…

Why, in today’s economic climate, give so much importance to the happiness of individuals in general and employees in particular?

Simply because an unhappy employee is expensive (sick leave, absenteeism…). But most importantly because a happy employee – a multitude of scientific studies have proven it – is a more productive, creative and engaged employee. And in an increasingly competitive market, companies need to know how to attract and retain the best talent.

For more insight on Happiness at Work, watch the first episode of our Happiness at Work series.

But do we really know what happiness is? How to reach it? How to keep it?

The question is very subjective, nearly too conceptual, for it is an existential question that has haunted humanity since the dawn of time.

This is where Mo Gawdat, Chief Business Officer of Google X, comes in the picture. Not as a businessman, not as a serial entrepreneur nor as a visionary engineer who developed over half of Google’s worldwide operations and its most innovative projects, but as the creator of a happiness equation, which he unveils in his book “Solve for Happy”, an international best-seller translated in 28 languages coming out in French bookstores today under the title “La Formule du Bonheur”, released by prominent French publisher Larousse.  

It took Mo Gawdat 12 years of relentless research – following a reassessment of his professional and personal success that brought him everything but happiness – to develop this mathematical formula:

This happiness formula, along with the training method stemming from it, were unfortunately put to the ultimate test when, in 2014, Mo’s 21-year-old son Ali died due to a series of medical errors during a minor surgery. To honor the memory and work of his son, with whom he had collaborated on the algorithm, Mo Gawdat set himself the mission to help 1 billion people around the world find happiness, whatever the circumstances of life.

“One billion happier people on the planet may seem utopian, but for us at Google, this dimension is our everyday environment. It’s completely achievable,” says Mo Gawdat.

A combination of scientific, spiritual and human/personal perspectives, with Solve for Happy Mo Gawdat unfolds, accurately and rigorously – as any self-respecting engineer would– the “simple” steps to find happiness. This highly methodical approach is humanized by his personal experience and the multiple references to Ali – the red thread of the book – while the direct tone and practical exercises assigned throughout the book give the reader the feeling to “work” with the author towards this path to happiness.

What is this path?

The premise is the following: We are all born happy. Happiness is our default setting. Yet, as we move forward in life, we “pollute” this initial state. And although the equation is simple to solve, the reality is that our brain, our “best enemy”, conditioned by millions of years of evolution, often short-circuits the equation. Hence the method 6-7-5, developed by Mo, which makes it possible to apply the equation: dispel the 6 great illusions of modern life and the 7 blind spots that blur our perception, so you can eventually connect with the 5 ultimate truths.

“Practicing happiness is like knowing that exercising and eating healthy is good for you. It is not enough to just know it, you have to work out every day!” recommends Mo.

And if you do, the formula is surefire happiness!!

So, what are we waiting for – individually, collectively – to solve our happiness equation?