Everyone wants to be happy. We spend our lives trying to meet our wants and needs, and – for a lucky few, working to make our dreams come true. Yet whether we're rich, poor, or somewhere in between, happiness is hard to find, always seeming just out of reach.
Your actual needs are few, and in your heart you know what you really want in life. But that's not what you work towards every day. You ignore the quiet inner voice of your true self. Instead, you listen to the much louder voices of your loved ones, of advertisers, and those in power, who push very different visions of what brings happiness. Your inner self tries to remind you of what matters, telling you the suggestions of those other voices lead away from your deepest desires. But you listen and follow them anyway, because of the benefits they give you, ignoring the costs. And so you fail to find happiness.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to force us to listen to that inner voice again.
I admit it. I was a lost soul, chasing the wrong things, in the wrong way. I was living in Asia when my life took a wrong turn down a dark and terrible road. I refused to turn in a friend for murder. When we were caught, I couldn't afford to pay the bribe the Thai police, and later a prosecutor and a judge demanded. In the end, I was convicted of a murder I didn't commit, and spent the next 16 years in prison.
I had to face death daily, as hundreds of people died horrible deaths all around me. My life became a struggle between life and death. Harsh reality stripped me bare of illusions, and I was forced to look deep inside myself. Instead of going insane, becoming a drug addict, or dying, I paid attention to death's lessons and learned what was truly important. If you dare to look at what desolation makes clear, the secrets of your heart, mind, and spirit are revealed.
I learned that creating happiness is simple. It is within your reach right now, if you choose to take it. Once your basic needs are met, lasting happiness comes from healthy relationships, especially the one with yourself.
Take a moment to think about this. You are happiest when you're doing what you like to do, spending time with those you love and care about. This is the source of happiness – emotional connections with yourself and others. Not wealth, fame, beauty, or material things. Joy and contentment come from intimacy with yourself – doing what you find meaningful and enjoyable, and being with others you like and love.
Your relationship with yourself, others, and your community (including nature and the world) determine how happy you'll be. You only need three things for great relationships: love, meaning, and creativity – all of them free.
Bringing these into your life requires some time, effort, and a willingness to change.
This book gives you the tools and techniques you need to build a joyful existence. I have distilled years of scholarly work, and thousands of pages of research into a few paragraphs. In some passages you may need to pause and reflect, to absorb all the information given here. Please, take your time. There is no hurry.
Making your life a paradise isn't quick or easy, but it's worth it! It's my hope that together we will transform the world, and make our home a fair, compassionate place that's good for everyone.
So join me on a journey to discover your true self, and become the person you were born to be. Use the knowledge that almost cost me my life to gain, and change yours for the better.