Do you want to feel radically happy? Look no further! This book shows you the way.
Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon’s Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind takes you on an east-west journey that offers wisdom and easy-to-understand exercises that’ll get you leaning into big happiness in no time.
To do this, the authors explain how your mind works. They also share many relatable examples that drive their messages home.
And at the conclusion, they wrap it up by suggesting daily recommended practices and an organized, hyperlinked list of all the exercises.
As you can tell, I loved this book!
Here are my top ten lightning bulb discoveries from Radically Happy:
1. Happiness can only be found in the present moment.
According to Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind, “The science supports the following nonintuitive assertion: situating oneself firmly and mindfully in what is present—no matter what it is—is intimately connected to genuine happiness.”
I’m not sure why I need to hear this message repeatedly to get it to stick! But somehow, through their descriptions and examples, the authors succeeded in doing just that.
They reminded me that happiness doesn’t come from the mind. Instead, it shines through when the mind isn’t lost in thoughts (that often don’t bring joy).
2. ‘Creating space’ is a powerful meditation technique I learned from Radically Happy.
“Creating space gives us a taste of the natural mental peace and steadiness that is uncovered once our thoughts and emotions lose their power to carry us away from the present moment.” Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
There are so many different meditation techniques out there. Yet, I can say that this section of the book is worth its weight in gold. I’ve never heard of the “creating space” meditation technique. But, I can say that for me, it works!
When I do the technique, I visualize thoughts drifting out and away from me into space. A wave of relaxation sweeps over me. Give it a try, and tell me I’m wrong!
3. Mind wandering is a chronic source of unhappiness, according to Radically Unhappy.
“The study identified distraction as “mind-wandering”—a state of being completely distracted from the present moment by thinking about thoughts. In fact, in the study, the authors said that mind-wandering (or rather, the lack thereof) is an excellent predictor of happiness.” –Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
This is similar to point number one but adds more context. Are you a mind wanderer? I know I am. From the authors, I learned that when my mind wanders, I’ve lost the present moment. I may not feel “unhappy” with my wandering thoughts, but I also can’t experience the joy that can only be found in the present moment.
4. Being mindful allows us to connect with our natural, relaxed state of awareness.
“When we bring in a relaxed, spacious attitude, we don’t have to block anything or grasp too tightly. We allow our natural awareness to maintain mindfulness but don’t chase thoughts and emotions away.” –Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
The authors often reference the example of a dog and a lion. They encourage us not to be like dogs – chasing every thought that passes by. Instead, we’re encouraged to be like lions. To look directly into the source, our state of pure awareness.
5. According to Radically Happy, comparing ourselves to others robs us of our happiness.
According to the authors, “The involuntary habit of constantly evaluating experience distracts us from simply being present, making it difficult for us to enjoy life’s most basic pleasures fully. But it gets worse. These thoughts can build upon and reinforce each other. They quickly grow into the world’s biggest stealer of contentment: comparing ourselves to others and their circumstances.”
Yep! Been there and done that. I love the vision of ‘relaxing’ because we know it’s impossible to stop completely. So I guess that’s what we need to do: relax the comparing.
6. We think we’re isolated, but we are only here because of a vast matrix of interconnectedness.
“Most of us live our lives as if we are discrete entities, clearly distinguishable from the world we find ourselves in. But upon closer examination, we find we are the result of our interconnections with others and our environment.” – Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
The middle section on interconnectedness was most beneficial to me.
Somehow, I discovered a survival technique in my childhood: place massive walls around myself. I felt I needed to protect myself in order to feel happy.
This book helped me more deeply understand how we are all connected. And that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the kindness of others.
This slight shift for me was big. Softening my walls and seeing the support always there makes me feel relaxed and happy. Read this section and see if it does the same for you.
7. Our kindness toward others reflects our kindness to ourselves.
“Interconnected happiness arises through cultivating loving-kindness and compassion and by learning to value others in much the same way we value ourselves. In fact, responding to others’ needs is also a way for us to nurture our own basic need for happiness and social connection.” Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
In giving, we receive. This reminds me of the powerful quote from the Dalai Lama: “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
8. Radically Happy teaches that wisdom springs from being grounded in interconnectedness.
“Our proposition is this: the more we can live in accord with the natural interconnectedness with others and our environment, the more likely we are to make decisions and choices that arise from our own natural intelligence and less from our culturally conditioned or habitual way of acting and reacting.” -Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
This is also a game-changer. Not only do we benefit emotionally from caring for others, but that way of living centers us within our highest intelligence.
9. It’s possible to stay above reactivity and treat challenging thoughts (and people) with kindness and care.
“Attentiveness means that we pay attention to others and react to them in a caring way. The approach we discussed earlier of treating difficult thoughts and emotions in the same way an experienced host would treat guests can apply to interacting with other people too.” Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind.
We can rise above anything that bothers us and access kindness.
Being attentive reminds me of the lion because the lion is not reactive. He is attentive. The difference with us is that we can then respond. We can apply the same level of attentiveness in caring for ourselves.
10. Recognize your inner awareness and discover a fountain of eternal happiness.
“No matter what happens, there is a fundamental part of you that is never touched or harmed in any way. By learning to focus your attention on noticing awareness, you can experience this stainless aspect of mind for yourself.” Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind
The authors encourage us to look deep inside, where we can connect with our timeless souls. And when we do that, we can appreciate how beautiful life truly is.
Did you enjoy this story? Please share it with someone who will, too!
Also, if you’re in the mood to read more, check out my favorite quotes from Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart.
Or, check out these four incredible lessons from The Happiest Man on Earth.