Radically Happy Book Summary - Radically Happy Book explained in key points
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Radically Happy summary

Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon

A User's Guide to the Mind

4.6 (366 ratings)
28 mins
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    Radically Happy
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 9

    Genuine happiness has nothing to do with possessions or circumstances.

    Consider the following scenario. One day, you wake up to find yourself in a hospital bed, with fluorescent lights glaring at you from above. A few minutes go by as you nervously wonder what’s going on. Finally, a doctor walks in. She tells you that you were hit by a car, and you’re now paralyzed from the waist down.

    Okay – now let’s switch to a different scenario. In this one, you’re blinking and groggy as your partner excitedly shakes you awake from a deep sleep. He tells you that the lottery ticket you bought a few weeks ago is now worth $150 million.

    On a scale of one to ten, how happy do you think you’d feel in each of these situations? And how much happiness do you think you’d feel a year after? Chances are that your current answers to these questions are wrong.

    The key message here is: Genuine happiness has nothing to do with possessions or circumstances. 

    It’s obvious that winning the lottery would make you much happier than learning that you’re paralyzed, right? Actually, no –⁠ at least not in the long run! 

    Immediately after hearing the news in each of these scenarios, you’ll likely feel a boost of either happiness or depression. But those feelings won’t last. A 1978 study of paraplegic people and lottery winners determined that, just a year after finding out the news, the happiness levels of both groups had returned to exactly where they had been before.

    It turns out that most people aren’t so great at determining the causes of happiness. But this is why it’s so essential to come to terms with the truth: circumstances and possessions don’t lead to real, sustained happiness. 

    You might feel like this is obvious –⁠ after all, you’ve read countless Hallmark cards telling you that money can’t buy happiness. But your actions may tell a different story. You’re probably still trying to find meaning and satisfaction by changing your surroundings or seeking out a well-paying job.

    And this turns out to be a vicious cycle. Every time you obtain comfort and pleasure, it’s not long before you start worrying about where to find the next set of pleasurable circumstances, or you try to determine how to prolong your joy so it never goes away.

    You can’t find lasting happiness in circumstances. So where exactly does it come from?

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    What is Radically Happy about?

    What’s it about?

    Radically Happy (2018) is a practical yet personal guide to achieving true happiness. In it, timeless Eastern wisdom meets modern Western practicality as it teaches the keys to happiness according to a Tibetan Buddhist monk and a former Silicon Valley technologist. Packed with scientific insights and meditation exercises, it provides a toolkit for achieving a genuine, lasting sense of well-being. 

    Best quote from Radically Happy

    Real happiness –⁠ what we call radical happiness –⁠ is not found in situations and things.

    —Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon
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    Who should read Radically Happy?

    Who’s it for?

    • Skeptics who still need convincing about the benefits of meditation
    • Meditators who want to add new elements to their practice
    • Those tired of a fruitless search for true happiness

    About the Author

    About the author

    Phakchok Rinpoche hails from a long line of great spiritual teachers and is a master in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, holding the prestigious title of Khenpo. He teaches meditation in universities all over the world. 

    Erric Solomon is a meditation instructor who leads seminars and retreats in corporate settings, prisons, and temples across Europe and the United States. Previously, he was a top Silicon Valley tech executive.

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