Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Eraser Test

Every year we have a summer read - in fact this year at ASB we had 4 books we could choose from. I chose to read Your Brain at Work, but I was also interested in a couple of the other books as well.  So this week I did a swap.  I gave my book to a colleague and I took the book that she had read.  This book is called Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat.

At the weekend I was chatting with my son, who doesn't read much, but who has set himself a task of reading 6 books this year.  Perhaps I should clarify that - he reads non-fiction but not fiction - the challenge is to read 6 novels.  Because of this I hesitated to recommend him a non-fiction book, but I did think he'e enjoy this one.  The section I was talking to him about was called The Eraser Test.

Before I go into this, a little background.  Mo is a highly successful engineer who works for Google [X], yet in 2001 he realised that despite all his success he was really unhappy.  He set out to find the equation for permanent happiness.  Having found this, in 2014 his perfect happiness was put to the test when Mo's 21 year old son Ali died during routine surgery.  This prompted Mo to write his book to share his equation with the world to help as many people as possible to become happier.

I've read about half of the book so far, and the theme is to be content with our present situation and optimistic about the future.  The Eraser Test fits into this in the following way:  imagine a technology was invented that would allow you to choose a past event and to erase it from the flow of time.  Of course this would also erase all the effects and consequences of this event as well, right up to the present moment.  How many events would you choose to erase?  Surprisingly, even though at the time that we experienced events as being bad, most of us would not choose to erase them now.  Most people would choose to keep the events and be grateful for the path onto which they were led.  Even Mo, who admitted he would erase the death of his son, has seen that some positive came of it - it led him to writing his book which in turn was good for others.  I thought of some of the events of my past which initially I thought I would like to erase as well, though in retrospect I realise they did bring me to a better place, and without which many, many good times and opportunities would not have occurred.  And this knowledge does give me comfort at times like now when I find myself in another tough place, wondering where my path will lead me next - should I stay in India, or should I return to Europe?

Mo writes "When you realise that every seemingly bad event nudged you onto the path of many good events, you'll reset your definitions of good and bad ... life can surprise you by eventually coming around to work in your favour.  It so often has in the past.  Why would it change now?"

Photo Credit: Petur Flickr via Compfight cc

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