As I make plans to return to Jackson Hole for my second Medicine and Compassion Retreat, I am reflecting on my experiences from last year. Pakchok Rinpoche led our retreat and we received a copy of his book “Radically Happy”. And I had the good fortune to meet his co-author Erric Solomen pictured here. Such a provocative title! We all want to be happy but radically happy, that seems like icing on the cake. It was time to read that book and share a summary with all of you!
Mastering the Mind
This book offers a user’s guide to your mind. Apparently, the first thing we need to do to be radically happy is to gain control over our wild, wandering mind and bring our attention into the present moment. This book teaches how you can shift, moment to moment, the way you relate to the world and all the crazy stuff that runs through your mind. They provide short but sweet mindfulness exercises throughout the book to help you get there!
How to be Less of a Dog and More of a Lion
The analogy used is how to be less of a dog and more like a lion. If you throw a stone at a dog, he will chase after the stone. The stone is like a thought. Perhaps a negative thought that you then chase after, looping it over and over until you become the thought.
However, if you throw a stone at a lion, the King of the Jungle cares little about the stone. He will focus instead on who threw the stone. Run or be eaten. Regardless, no more stones!
Step by step, we learn Basic Happiness through mastering the mind. Then by mastering the heart, we can find Interconnected happiness. The exercises in each part of the book are simple and brief. For example, I have added in a “Mindful Mini-Break” in my day. Taking just a few moments to stop, drop and be present! I take a few deep breaths, create space in my mind and remind myself of something I am grateful for each day!
The Key to Radical Happiness
Most of us spend an entire lifetime chasing thoughts and emotions like a dog, never finding complete satisfaction. Yet, with a slight but radical shift of attention, we turn toward the stone thrower- awareness itself. Radical happiness is about developing dignity, becoming a lion. By understanding our natural awareness, gaining confidence in it, we can turn toward awareness instead of toward habitually rising thoughts and emotions. According to the authors, it is subtle and takes some time and practice but once you get the hang of it, it is a precious treasure!
So let’s take these steps together and live the rest of our lives radically happy….