A Sneak Peek at the Book: An Introduction

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By Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon

Why did we write a book on happiness? Here is a sneak peek at the introduction to Radically Happy: A Users Guide to the Mind:

This book is about happiness.

Okay, we probably should stop right now, because we can hear what you’re thinking. And yes, we know: Who needs another book on happiness? And on top of that, who needs another book on happiness from a couple of Buddhists? If the goal of Buddhism is to become completely enlightened, why do you need a book about a trivial, fleeting mood like happiness?

Well, we think we could all use a bit more happiness. And this book offers something different: a real path to happiness. We don’t explore just one single solitary thing called happiness—as if it were a bronze statue in the town square—but the different kinds and the different dimensions of happiness, because happiness is a beautiful and many-splendored thing.

We are Buddhists, and it’s true that Buddhism speaks mostly about enlightenment. But without a solid foundation of contentment, basic sanity, and a decent self-image, you can’t flourish in life—either as a spiritual practitioner or as a practitioner of daily life. Not everyone wants to become a Buddhist, but doesn’t everyone want to be able to flourish and enjoy what life has to offer? We all want to be able to cope, without losing our sh*t when things don’t work out. And that last point is the heart of what radical happiness really is. It’s a subtle sense of well-being we can always access, especially when things are not so great (as in, when they really suck).

How can we experience this kind of happiness? By making a slight but radical shift in the way we live our lives. The root of happiness is found not in specific circumstances; it’s found in the way we relate to all of our experiences—including the chaos and confusion we might find ourselves in the middle of. So learning how you can shift, moment to moment, the way you relate to the world and to all the crazy stuff that runs through your mind—that is what this book is about. We’ll also encourage you to have a few good laughs along the way, as you learn to make the shift.

What we offer here is a user’s guide for your mind. (The mind is the most important device you have in your life, and nobody helps you figure out how to use it!) We will guide you through thought experiments, contemplation exercises, and meditation practices to help you get the most from your mind. This book also comes from a unique perspective: it is the result of a meeting of minds between a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Tibetan Buddhist guru. East meets West, ancient wisdom meets modern science, and what you end up with is a truly original perspective on how to actualize life’s full potential.

Radical happiness is not theoretical. It’s something we’ve tested on ourselves, our family, friends, and the thousands of other people who have come to our workshops, retreats, and seminars. Like all good app developers, we did a lot of beta testing, made some big mistakes, and then worked on getting the bugs out. And that helped us figure out how to make the process of mastering our mind something everyone can do—and enjoy.