What book has changed your life? I sincerely hope that you have read something that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. Over the past ten years, I have read some amazing books, but only a handful have changed me. In fact, since I started tracking my books I read 162 before I came to the first. And I owe a great deal to Mo Gawdat and feel a debt of gratitude for his book Solve for Happy.

I came across this recommendation randomly on Facebook and it is one of the most influential books I have ever read. These days there are numerous books revealing the secrets of happiness and it can seem trendy to go down that self-help path (one recent book I read called it “pop psychology.”) Though I’m not sure exactly what formula for success these other books recommend, Solve for Happy came to me at a time when I desperately needed it. It’s tough to describe my state of mind at the time, but I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally. Despite having a happy marriage, five great kids, a rewarding profession, and an overall fulfilling life, I lacked true understanding of what was important. Over the years I had made slow progress towards a more peaceful inner state, but I have always struggled with events of the past with a strong desire to perfectly control the future.

A few years ago I had a very difficult and challenging time at work – a time when I felt wronged, betrayed, and unfairly criticized. I was upset. And I have a talent for being upset! This anger overtook my life, and my relationships at home and my family suffered. My sole focus was vindication of my name and retribution for those who had wronged me. My mind ran wild with thoughts of the situation and my only respite was sleep – and I was getting very little of that.  I remembered this title on my list of books to read and quite frankly I was desperate for some glimmer of hope – so I started listening.

In the introduction, Mo Gawdat describes his life as a very successful business man with everything this world has to offer. Yet he couldn’t figure out why he was so miserable. Despite having accomplished far more than most, his life lacked meaning and direction. So, as an engineer, he set out on a journey to solve an equation for happiness which he decided to share with the world when that solution was put to the ultimate test – the unexpected death of his son.

There were so many concepts for me that were eye-opening. But I specifically remember coming to a stoplight when Mo Gawdat walked the reader through a visualization of seeing how any event cannot be the source of our pain. I was super skeptical and I never participate with the writer when they ask me to go through an exercise. But this one was different. He told me to pick an event that made me upset… Done! Easy! And to let it get me worked up. No problems there. The next step was to think about anything besides what had made me mad. Tougher, but I did it.

And here was the revelation – in the time you aren’t thinking about the event, you aren’t unhappy. You aren’t upset. It is your reaction to that event, your chosen feelings about it, that causes the suffering. When you can successfully move away from thinking about it, the pain goes away. Nothing else has changed. It is there in the past, but whatever power it has over you in the present is only what you’ve allowed it. (As I type this it seems so simple like anyone reading this would be saying, “Duh! Of course this is so obvious.” But I know there are so many people out there who are struggling).

Upon realizing this, a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders and the healing process began. I have been healing ever since as I have learned many truths that I was blind to. Though my journey since has not been perfectly smooth and I have improvement to make, I am a much happier person, being able to move forward from the perceived injustices of the past. I am quicker to forgive and less prone to unkind judgement. I spend less time living inside my mind, and more time living in the present moment. Since that day I have been on a path of seeking enlightenment with Mo Gawdat as my guide. I have finished the book now four different times and each time brings different insight. One of my favorites is this: Depression is rooted in the past; Anxiety is rooted in the future; Happiness is now.

Are you enjoying the present moment as much as possible?

I don’t know if this is the book that will change your life, though it was beneficial to most of the people who I know who read it. It’s probably unlikely that it will have the same effect on you as it did on me (One thing I have had to learn is that some people actually hate the books I love. It took me awhile to get past the feelings of hurt and rejection when that happened 😉). But I do hope that it will inspire you to start searching for the best books.

I’ve often heard people say that they don’t have time to read or that they just can’t get into it. Maybe the reason is that they just don’t know where to start? But starting is the key. Put down your screen (or at least open up an E-Reader or Audible) and start a book. Everyone has a list of books they’ve been meaning to read. And if not, check out the ones that I’ve listed on my website. You may not find that life-changing book immediately, but I promise you will find something wonderful when you start 🙂

Please tell me what your favorite books are in the comment section. I’d love to hear about them!

And if you haven’t already done so, please sign up for my newsletter and be entered to win one of my favorite books.

  • Norm
    2 years ago
    I have read and enjoyed most of the books posted in your blog. Recently, I began rereading several on the list, A Gentleman in Moscow, The Power of One, The Count of Monte Cristo, American Kingpin, etc.. The discovery of hidden insights and overlooked details berried in the narrative, only enhances the the value of the time spent reading. It is not how many books I read, rather it is what I gain by identifying and relating to the author's context and perceptions, that determine the worth of a book. Well done!
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      Thanks Pops! I definitely plan to listen to Gentleman in Moscow again soon. I also need to revisit East of Eden. And I'm due for my every ten year reading of the Count!
  • Adam McCormick
    2 years ago
    Nate thanks for being so open and genuine about your thoughts. I will give this book another listen. All your books have been home runs for me. Especially time management for mortals-4000 weeks. Love it! Totally changed how I live my daily life.
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      Adam, you've always been one of my go-to guys for talking books. We gotta figure out a way to do it more! Thanks buddy!
  • Cyd
    2 years ago
    Excited to add this one to my list! One of my favorite books I've read for implementing change (especially at work) is "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip and Dan Heath.
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      Thanks Cyd! I'll definitely add that book to my list.😊
  • Kev
    2 years ago
    I’ve read this book twice and also read it when it was in an influential time frame. The line I have written out many times “Depression is rooted in the past; Anxiety is rooted in the future; Happiness is now.” you highlighted has had the biggest effect for me.
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      This book is full of so many nuggets of truth. Another one for me is "you are not your thoughts." Seems simple but it is so profound when you dig deeper. Thanks for commenting!
  • Hill
    2 years ago
    One of my favorite books too! Great thoughts sweetheart😘
    • Nate
      2 years ago
      I'm happy I finally convinced you to read it!😉😘