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Happiness and How It Happens: Finding Contentment through Mindfulness Hardcover – 10 Oct 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Ivy Press (10 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907332936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907332937
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Happiness and How it Happens: Finding Contentment Through Mindfulness may not be the catchiest title on the planet, but what did catch my attention, made me smile and made me take more than a passing look at the galley proofs that landed on my desk was the nom de plume of the author, who calls himself The Happy Buddha. As any good book-commissioning and copy-editor will tell you, what you are looking for in a new title, fiction or non-fiction, is the 'voice' - something that connects reader and author and a memorable way - and this dear little almost old-fashioned-looking book has that in spades. It's author, Suryacitta Malcolm Smith (OK, the Malcolm Smith bit was also a little unexpected, but Suryacitta, I am sure, is his adopted Buddhist name), is a member of the Western Buddhist Order and has practised meditation for more than two decades, leading workshops, courses and retreats across Europe on the art of happiness. I must admit, I always wonder when I read these wonderful 'biogs' - which, like the bionotes we publish in this magazine, basically tells you why this person is qualified to make a pronouncement on this or that matter and why, if they do, we should listen - whether these authors also have to do the shopping, hang out the laundry, walk the dog, hoover the carpets, make a cream tea for the inlaws.....But I digress. Anyway, there it is, a good strong voice, and whilst not a new topic - how-to books on meditation are ten a penny - it has an interesting enough angle, examining the role of meditation in creating and maintaining greater happiness and wellbeing in Western folk. And as teh behind-the-scenes editor, I had, of course, the advantage of knowing we would be publishing a whole slew of articles on happiness in this issue and that some of those would most likely make mention of meditation as one of the tools we can harness to generate more wellbeing and thus more happiness. So, very early one Sunday morning whilst the rest of my household slept - quietly and hopefully happily - I opened the bedroom windows so i would hear dawn creeping in over the sea, read this little book from cover to cover, and liked it. A great deal. The central premise is that happiness is our natural state, which means all we have to do is stop making ourselves 'unhappy' and allow that natural state of happiness to just be. And the way we stop making ourselves unhappy is to meditate, and in so doing we learn to marshal and eventually banish all the nasty little thoughts, including envy, self-pity, expectation, etc, that make us miserable. By meditating, we let go of these thoughts and then keep that newly empty mental space 'clear' for happiness to resurrect itself. (If you meditate you know all this, but this book is aimed at the novice, not the experienced practitioner). And if we want to be happier and stay happier, The Happy Buddha suggests we also need to get a grip on the notion that the past is gone, the future hasn't happened and so all we really have to deal with is the here and now, which we can improve if we would only stop making ourselves unhappy. "In the present moment", he writes, "there are no problems and no anxiety. When we live in the present moment we are in touch with our deeper wisdom, and with wisdom we know how to live a good life". And it works. Because for a whole week after reading the book, I practised what I had read and was a much, much, much nicer person, and as a result of being so much nicer, I was much, much, much happier with me. So, as I have said, I like this little book. I like its voice. I like what it is proposing. I would not, of course, pass it along to anyone living in a refugee camp or a war zone or to the parents and carers on a cancer ward - all of whom have every right to be spectacularly unhappy - but I would pop it in a Christmas stocking. --Resurgence November/December 2011

'What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.' So thought the fourteenth Dalai Lama. Human beings strive to attain a state of happiness, yet what does it mean to be fundamentally happy and how can this be achieved? The answer is surely through the Buddhist idea of mindfullness. Surycitta's inspiring and elegant guide asserts that we enter life in a natural state of contentment, one that becomes alien as we mature, and give undue importance to external validation, little realising that the key to true contentment lies within. Mindful meditation and awareness are the keys to enlightenment and the various exercises included offer a persuasive path to regaining equilibrium. --The Good Book Review Dec 2011

About the Author

Suryacitta, aka The Happy Buddha, is a member of the Western Buddhist Order, and has led retreats in Europe on the art of happiness for over eight years.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Valerian on 5 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has just recently started out on the path of Buddhist-style meditation, I've found this book wonderful. A kind friend gave it to me and I read it in instalments, one chunk after each daily meditation. I got to the end and started it again almost immediately - it's so rich and nourishing. It really tackles the subtleties of how to approach meditation, and how to approach life - life in all its ups and downs. How to find inner peace and grow naturally and stop beating yourself up. The artwork and binding of the book are gorgeous and I found the content both accessible and thought-provoking. I think I can safely say that it's going to be my personal bible for a long time to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tamsin on 18 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a great introduction to mindfulness. It's well divided into 5 main chapters and within each one are thought-provoking quotes and relevant little stories and questions as well as the main material. It's the sort of book that you can read ten times and get something different out of it each time. OK, I'm only on my third read as I continue on my journey to find happiness within but already it's a different book to last time!

It's a really easy read and it comes across that Suryacitta, The Happy Buddha is a normal person who has discovered how to be happy and has written the book to share his knowledge rather than it being written by someone who seems to be on another planet and not in touch with real life (like some authors seem to be!).

Highly recommended!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hoey on 30 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a nice book, very attractively produced and amazing value. It is an excellent introduction to a proven approach to developing lasting happiness based on the wisdom of the Buddha. It is devoid of any jargon and takes the reader directly to practical approaches whilst explaining in a very accessible way why and how they work.This book is one of a type - the author clearly has a good background in Buddhist practice but is also heavily influenced by neo-advaita. In this respect it reminded me of the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and I can imagine it becoming just as popular. In my opinion it deserves to. It is actually ten times better than the Power of Now in that it actually gives the reader something to DO to be happy. Maybe that's the Buddhist in the author talking. The great weakness of Eckhart Tolle and other "non-dualists" is that although they may give a person a glimpse of some kind of immediately accessible non-dual "high" this will not be enough to deal with the negative mental habits they will inevitably have accumulated. When simply being in the moment leaves them still feeling miserable the poor punter is left feeling dejected and gropes for yet another book or pricey workshop. To his credit Suryacitta is very aware of this and encourages us to face our demons fearlessly. However the Buddha also emphasised a path based on ethics and renunciation and these aspects are hardly mentioned in this book. Perhaps that's the non-dualist talking (or rather not talking!). These subjects are deeply unfashionable as they are seen as onerous and burdensome but the path of ethics was actually taught as an opportunity to deepen our joy and to seek the joy in others.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keith Williams on 4 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Looking at the glowing reviews,and being a practitioner of mindfulness meditation, I was interested in seeing if there was anything new here. The writing is impeccable and I was certainly not disappointed by the content.

There is much written about this subject, and it is difficult to decide where to find real help. All I can say is I found this to be a lovely book, and just reading it made me feel good. If the practices within are adhered to, the reader will certainly benefit enormously.

Author of Inner Path to Happiness How to be Happy - a Guide to Overcoming Depression and Embracing Inner Happiness (Warrior Series)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diane Kaylor on 17 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading "Happiness and How it Happens" which I picked up in a library, not only did I buy myself a copy, but purchased another 4 copies as gifts for friends, one of whom refers to it almost every time I see him. The book is really pleasing to look at and handle but its real beauty is in the deceptively simple content - a book for both beginners and experienced mindfulness practitioners. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. N. Taylor on 31 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've been meditating on and off for just over a year and am absolutely convinced of it's benefits to everyone BUT the subject of meditation and the whole 'Zen' thing can seem very abstract and airy-fairy to the casual onlooker so many of the people who it would help the most are likely to dismiss it as nonsense (even though WE already know that it's not nonsense).

However, this fantastic book presents meditation in a wonderfully straight forward way that conveys the huge potential benefits it could have, but makes the whole thing seem logical, sensible and easy to get your head round so that the people who previously would have dismissed it may well give it a go.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John Wakeman on 28 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, the most obvious thing about this excellent little book on mindfulness and meditation is just how beautifully produced it is. It's a pleasure just to pick it up and browse through it. Somehow, the care the publishers have taken with the book's appearance both reflects its theme and adds to its impact.

So, how, according to Suryacitta, does happiness `happen'? He gets straight to the point - "Happiness is our natural state. It happens when we stop making ourselves unhappy by believing in the stories the thinking mind throws up".

It's all very well to say this, one might think, but anyone who's tried to make miserable thoughts `just stop' will know that it's not easy at all - it can seem quite impossible.

Fortunately, many Buddhist traditions have been exploring this for millennia, and what Suryacitta presents here epitomises some of the most pithy and direct methods that these traditions offer. "Being in the present moment is the secret to a life of unconditional happiness and freedom. But how do we do it? The key is simply to notice, without judgment or criticism, what takes you away from the present and then return to the felt experience of the present."

That just about sums it up. I like the way that Suryacitta keeps emphasising that while this is simple, it's not necessarily easy. This goes against our conditioning - it feels like simple things should be easy. Cultural norms tell us that happiness lies in having desirable objects, desirable relationships. Simplicity sounds a bit ... boring. Yet we long for it "People complain about their lives being stressful, hectic, over-complicated and with little or no room for the simple things that they want to enjoy". Changing our external conditions is really just more of the same.
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