Radically Happy | Erric Solomon

Summary of: Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind
By: Erric Solomon


Embark on a transformative journey towards lasting happiness with ‘Radically Happy: A User’s Guide to the Mind’ by Erric Solomon. This summary will explore the keys to genuine happiness, which goes beyond possessions and circumstances. We will delve into concepts from Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the power of being present, cultivating gratitude, and interconnected happiness. Say goodbye to dependence on external factors and learn to foster basic happiness, interconnected happiness, and radical happiness in your daily life.

The Pursuit of Lasting Happiness

Have you ever wondered what truly makes you happy? Based on a 1978 study, it appears that we aren’t accurate at determining the sources of our happiness. Genuine happiness has nothing to do with possessions or circumstances. Whether you win the lottery or become paralyzed, your happiness levels will return to their previous state after a year. Despite understanding the Hallmark statement that money can’t buy happiness, most of us still seek it through well-paying jobs or comfortable surroundings. Seeking short-term pleasure leads to a vicious cycle of constantly looking for the next source of joy. This raises the question, where exactly does lasting happiness come from?

The Art of Mindfulness

In “Radical Happiness,” Phakchok Rinpoche shares how his instructor taught him to break free from the cycle of chasing after his own thoughts. By learning how to cultivate present-moment awareness, we can experience basic happiness, a state of being completely absorbed in the present moment. To begin, try the Creating Space exercise for five minutes a day to shift your attention away from the endless stream of thoughts and learn to be non-distracted.

Meditate to Find Inner Peace

The author compares our minds to disruptive party guests and suggests using meditation as a way to keep them occupied. Practicing meditation with an object, like the breath or a material object, can calm and focus the mind. The author shares an exercise on focusing on the breath and encourages the reader to use this method. Eventually, the goal is to meditate without any object at all for a more advanced level. Meditation helps one achieve inner peace and happiness.

Cultivate Gratitude for Basic Happiness

Eric Solomon narrates how his grandfather fled from persecution to St. Petersburg, Russia, and ended up in the United States, where he met his wife. From his experience, the author draws a moral that instead of dwelling on negative things, people should focus on what they are grateful for, which is key to attain basic happiness. People tend to compare their lives to others, which hampers their present moment. The author suggests tempering this automatic comparison with gratitude exercises. Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to focus on the positive in people’s lives rather than the negative. The author recommends a daily practice of meditation, where individuals think about what they have and how satisfied they are with their current life. Another great gratitude exercise is to maintain a gratitude journal, where people can note down one thing they are grateful for every night before going to bed. Reflecting on these notes during morning meditation helps in appreciating life’s wonders.

Mindful Mini-Breaks

The importance of taking brief moments throughout the day to refocus on the present moment is discussed in this book summary. By practicing mindful mini-breaks, one can cultivate non-distraction and break free from looping thoughts, even in stressful circumstances. Mini-breaks can be triggered by anything and can involve focusing on the breath or the present feeling, even anxiety. Taking mini-breaks can help one be present in everyday experiences and lead to a happier life.

The book advocates for the practice of mindful mini-breaks as a means of familiarizing oneself with being in the present moment and breaking free from looping thoughts. It stresses the importance of being able to bring awareness of the present moment into everyday experiences. The essence of a mindful mini-break is to take a moment in the day to pause, focus on the breath or create space, and stop thinking about thoughts. This can be helpful when feeling stressed and anxious. Additionally, it can be triggered by anything – for example, a daily horn blown by a taco truck. Even if one forgets, taking a brief moment to refocus on the present can help cultivate non-distraction, even under stressful circumstances.

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