Clifton Molina

Books I've Read

Solve for Happy: Engineer your Path to Joy

  • — by Mo Gawdat
  • 1501157558
Currently Reading....

my reading notes




Get off the Hedonic Treadmill.




Don't expect that (work * money * things) ~= happy



Happiness is contained within




Happiness is a human's default setting, see: babies




The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short - Maslov




Attitude of gratitude




Make a happy list and review it weekly, find trends




Happiness equation


Happiness => perception of events - expectations




Pain is an important signal, suffering is a choice




Lean into discomfort to become resilient







First, there are the “6 Grand Illusions”, which are the illusions of thought, self, knowledge, time, control, and fear.


Next, we have the “7 Blind Spots” of our filters, assumptions, predictions, memories, labels, emotions, and exaggerations.


Finally, we are encouraged to reflect on the “5 ultimate truths” of now, change, love, death, and design.




State of confusion




Judgements will lack objectivity


Ex: illusion of time


State of suffering


Negative thoughts


Keeping them alive consciously


State of escape


Suspend thoughts


Fun as a painkiller with diminishing returns


Define a fun quota and meet it


State of happiness


Think positive


Better to remove the reasons for unhappiness than to try to inject more happiness


State of joy


Rise above thought clutter, 20000ft view


Utter immersion in life, blissful uninterrupted flow



Little voice in your head


Illusions as inputs means things can't add up in happiness equation


Chapter 3: little voice in your head


You are not your thoughts. Common wisdom among cultures.


I think, therefore I am - Descartes

I am, therefore my brain thinks - Gawdat


In the modern world, most threats are to the ego, not physical. Therefore a basic function of the brain, to protect the body, is left without much to do. Therefore it is imperative to master techniques for thought control and mindfulness.



Observe the dialog - sit quietly and observe often,

  • Observe thought
  • Let it go
  • Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts


Observe the drama - some thoughts will stick

Acknowledge how you feel - the emotion triggered by the thought

Try to understand it better, ask why, which thought led you here

Focusing on the connection uses the problem-solving side of brain, helps cool down emotion and end the repetitive brain chatter

Reframing the thought reframes the emotion


Bring me a better thought - hard to dislodge negative thoughts

Vacuum left behind when finally removed

Your brain can be 'primed' with happy thoughts

Loophole, backdoor: your brain can't help but think about something when prompted to

Leverage unconscious mind - view an image, listen to a sound, activate the senses with something that makes you happy


Shut the duck up

Pete cohen - life diy

Meditation is a practice which prepares you for a lifestyle: greater awareness in the larger world, away from meditation


Brain is a serial processor - one thought at a time

Learning to pull the plug on your brain - practice a dumb smile, blank stare

Remove sensory filters, ignore brain commentary, observe and let go







Who are you?


Tests of perception and permanence


Peel back layers, illusions

Find out who you aren't

Keep shedding until you find out who you are



Perception test: Subject/object relationship

If you're observing something, you are NOT that thing


Permanence test: If a quality about you can change, then that quality is NOT you

If you were a teacher, and now you're writer, those are changing states and are NOT you


Your thoughts fail the perception test. If you are your thoughts, how can you observe them?

Also fail permeance test: you don't cease to exist in the moments where you quiet your mind


Who Are You Not?

Easier to do this


You are not your body

If your body is you, how can you see and observer it? If it's the Object, who is the Subject?


You are not:



Emotions - if your love  grows, will there be more you?

Beliefs - If you adopt a new belief, do this make a new you?



Family Tree - what about people who find out who their real father is? Who were you before you got married?




The Real You

Only takes an instant of full present awareness to meet the real you

You are the Observer - you have never seen you, you are the one who sees

The real you is not a physical object, and our senses only detect things in the physical world

To observe the physical world, you need and outsider's vantage point


Who do you think you are?

Ego is a mask that we are born without and develop after language






What you know


Arrogance - Illusion of knowledge



  1. Discovery
  2. Debate
  3. Acceptance
  4. Arrogance


Breadth of Knowledge - Insignificant compared to all there is to know, all that we do not know


Our knowledge is as limited as our words - taste your own mango


"We truly don't know that much" - an absolute truth


Real knowledge


Cosmologists are often wrong, but never in doubt


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance - Confucius


False knowledge is the primary source of happiness


Undress - leave your knowledge open to attacks

Be Wise - define yourself by openness to those who contradict what you "know"

Be and explorer - seeker of truth, always ready to admit being wrong in order to continue the quest


The Nudge - a bit of hardship to lead you to something good


The Eraser Test - Imagine a new technology that allows you to choose any past event you don’t like and simply erase it as if it never happened. Erase it from your memory and from the actual flow of time as well. How many events would you actually erase?


expectations are sometimes rushed


“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” - Shakespeare (Illusion of Knowledge)





Does anybody know what time it is?


Time isn’t moving; you’re the one who is moving through time.

the speed at which you move affects your experience of time.


Gravity and veloicty warp time such that your slice is angled.

As his speed warps space-time, his perception of closer points on his travel path reach him quicker than the farthest points, so he ends up slicing the loaf at an angle. As a result, his time slice might include the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989, his mother’s death from cancer in 2016 in the United States, and the discovery of a cure for that cancer ten years later in Japan!



Time completely fails the test of permanence





Assign to thoughts/emotions a:










The only time that ever really exists is the moment you experience as now, and once that moment is replaced by the next, we call it the past.


When we’re focused on the past or the future, we’re living in our thoughts, and not in reality.


“And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”


Full Awareness Test

  1. Sit still, breathe deep and relax
  2. Close your eyes for a minute
  3. Open your eyes for a minute to observe surroundings
  4. Close your eyes again and silently describe to yourself what you observed in the previous step


The act of observation requires only simple awareness, describing it introduces much lengthier thought processes. There's no drama in the present, drama only enters with the past & future.





Right Here, Right Now


Awareness—a sense of knowledge or perception of a situation—is our ability to grasp the world at any given moment. Presence—the state of existing, occurring, or being attentive—is what enables this awareness.

There’s only reception without awareness, below that there is rejection.


Wu Wei - non-doing (Taoist concept)


The Pendulum Swing

No effort is needed to keep any system at its equilibrium. When everything you do feels effortless, you’ll have found your path.

Instead of looking at the few who appear to have more than you, look instead at the billions who have less. Yes—billions!