How to Be Happy

Vagabond Buddha has Two Missions

Vagabond: The word Vagabond represents the first mission. We teach you how to live internationally in paradise for less than it costs at home.

Buddha: The word Buddha represents the second mission. How to live effortlessly in the present moment. How to end human suffering. Power of Now. Living in the awareness. Experiencing one consciousness, source consciousness. Being with your God (if you are religious). Said more simply, the second mission teaches how to be happy.

You may not be interested in both missions. So we are intentionally going to keep them separate. If you are interested in our second mission, here are some resources for you:

Here is the free eBook

Read chapter 1 below the book.  Click the book for a free copy.

Happiness and success are two different things. Some people believe that happiness will be an automatic consequence of success. Some believe happiness is a consequence of success. If you are delaying happiness for the arrival of success, stop. That doesn’t make any sense.

There are happy people who are unsuccessful. There are successful people who are unhappy. Success is a spot on the path ahead of you. But as you get closer to that spot, you will imagine something even better–Success 2.0.

Success X.0 will always be a spot on the map ahead of you. It is never now.

Even Bill Gates has a spot on the map he is walking towards called success. His game just gets bigger as he plays. Now he is playing a bigger game–making the world a better place for everyone. No matter where you are in life, success is in the future. Success can’t be now. Your mind always has something to look forward to.

Your mind always has an imagined future. So if success is next … when should happiness be? There is only one moment when happiness can exist. That moment is now. If happiness is ever going to be in your life, it can only be now.

Are you happy right now? How does now feel? Look. Forget your mind for a moment. Go into your body and see. Are you happy? Check now. Really.

Your mind is in charge of thinking. I am not asking you if you think you are happy. Thinking is not the same as feeling. I am not asking if you have reasons to be happy.  I am asking how it feels now.

How does it feel being you … now? Happiness is an internal metric you can take. Don’t think about it. Feel it. How does it feel to live in your body right now.  And now? And now?

You get to decide what success means for you and go about achieving it. But you should not believe that happiness will be there when you arrive at success. For most people, success is an external metric they evaluate by comparing present conditions to desired conditions. That comparison is a thought.

Success is verified with a thought. Thinking about how you feel is not the same as feeling. Happiness is an internal metric. Happiness is one of the internal states you might feel each moment of your life. Feeling content or even joyful while thinking your way to a self-defined future success, is a soundtrack you can play in your life. Happiness plays now. Or not. You are the DJ. Do you know what music you are playing in your life right now? Don’t think, feel. Is it the sound of happiness? Do you have any control over the music you are playing in your life?

Okay, here is the main idea I share in this book. You are the DJ for the happiness music that plays in your life. Are you aware of how to hear or change the music of your life?

You have two major tools at your disposal. Are you aware of both? One tool seems to be designed for survival and success. The other tool is designed for happiness. Most of us are using the same tool to pursue both success and happiness. That is why they don’t have both.

Many of us keep grabbing the wrong tool, even after we notice it is not working. Either we aren’t aware that the mind is the wrong tool, or we don’t know there is another tool. People think their way to success using their mind. But your mind is not your only tool. If you are a one-trick pony, that will get you into trouble. Here is the bad news. (It turns out to be the good news later.)

You can’t think your way to happiness. No matter how smart you are.

No matter how smart you are, you can’t think your way to happiness. The mind can’t even see the happiness tool. No matter how hard your mind tries. It can’t even see the happiness tool. Your mind can’t be happy. Let me explain.

Your mind is like a fish that swims in the happiness tool. But the fish doesn’t know it is in water.

Success. Your mind thinks of success as something that will arrive in the future, like goals or achievements. Your mind creates actions now that it hopes will lead to success later. The mind plays the ‘futures’ game. But as we go along into the future, we often find that success is a moving target. Success gets redefined each time we hit a goal or fail. You move forward experiencing your life, one step at a time. You may celebrate for a moment when you hit a milestone. But then you imagine what is ‘next’ for you. Even if you pause to celebrate ‘this’ success for a day, your-self talk is likely to be about what is ‘next’ for you. This is the human condition. Success is next, not now.

Your mind is great at making a map of the future and finding shortcuts. It imagines how good it will be once you get there. “I can’t wait to see the blue water and white sand beach.” “The Ferrari in my garage will be red.” This motivates you to do the next thing. The pursuit of ‘next’ continues on each step as your mind looks from the present step, and refocuses for the next step towards success. Success is a pursuit, a constant hunt. Your mind is a hunter. When you get a ‘thing’ … your mind likes it for a moment … then it starts hunting again. Your mind asks a question that you often don’t even hear, “What could make this success even better?” Success is often ‘here’ for only a moment. Your mind will never stop thinking, “What is next?” Your mind will keep asking this question so long as you have a mind. Next is ‘normal’ for success. No matter how high you go, success will continue to be the pursuit of next. And your mind is in charge of next. That is fine. No problem there. So keep grabbing your mind tool when you play the success game. Just don’t be a one-trick pony. I am not kidding.

Happiness is now. Happiness can never be next. This book is about your other tool. Your mind can’t see the water it swims in, but you can. If you use this tool, you will automatically feel happy, without trying. Happiness is a feeling you can have each moment, or not. Happiness is real and now. You can’t fake it until you make it. It is inside of you. Happiness can’t be next. Being happy, or not, while you experience life is measurable inside of you. It is a feeling inside of you each moment. It is the feeling where you live. Your mind can’t even see it, but you feel it.

This book is about being happy each moment, while your mind is pursuing whatever is next. You deserve to be happy now, while you live. Success can be next, happy can only be now. The problem is, most of us are using our ‘next’ tool (i.e., the human mind) to pursue happiness. Quit grabbing your ‘next’ tool to be happy … now. You can’t be happy next, it isn’t here yet. You can only be happy now. Your mind can’t help you.

Why can’t your mind find happiness? Your mind just defines what needs to be different in the ‘next’ moment, to make you ‘really’ happy in the next moment. But when you get to the ‘next’ moment, your mind sees something else that needs to be fixed. That is your mind’s job, so don’t get mad at it. Your mind is not designed to be happy, your mind is designed to find happiness. But finding happiness by definition means it is not happening now. So quit playing the fool. Quit trying to think yourself into happiness.

Quit trying to use your mind to find happiness.

Your mind is good at pursuing something not here yet, but your mind has little interest in what is already here. Your mind always seems to find something that could make now better. What would it feel like if you experienced each moment as perfect? What if that tool didn’t interfere with your mind’s ability to create what happens next? You already have this tool but you may not be fully aware of it. What if I told you that tool wasn’t your mind? Most people are not even aware they already have this other tool.

The happiness tool is called awareness. You already have this tool. You were born with it. Most people are so mind focused they are unaware of awareness.

How do I know that you have this awareness? Because your mind operates inside this larger awareness. You wouldn’t be able to read these words if you mind wasn’t operating inside a greater awareness. Your mind exists completely inside this awareness. You can be in it right now if you like. Awareness is the consciousness that hears and sees what your mind thinks.

We aren’t taught this in many schools, so it sounds a bit odd at first. You may find a natural truth about awareness, if you look. An awareness that you are awareness itself … is first described in eastern philosophy. Many of the greatest minds, east and west, have made references to it. However, even in the east, awareness seems to have collapsed into a belief system. But beliefs are in the mind’s domain. Once something is believed it is collapsed into the mind’s domain. You don’t need to believe anything in particular to be happy. There are happy people of all faiths. You just can’t believe that awareness will make you happy. If you turn awareness into a belief system, you have collapsed it into the minds domain. Once something is in the mind’s domain, you can’t attain it. Happiness can’t be ‘next’.

You can’t believe in awareness. You have to be in it. If you believe in awareness you demote it to the mind’s domain. That is why you must leave your books, your teachers, and your processes and take this journey alone. Teachers like me can only point you to awareness, we can’t carry you there. Awareness of something already within you must arise. Your mind can’t even go with you. You can watch your mind from Awareness. You just can’t get to awareness using your mind.

Joy is the soundtrack of awareness. The moment I first experienced this awareness, my pain stopped. My mind still worked, but my mind just wasn’t able to attach pain to me. You will be amazed when you experience that there is a natural joy that exists in the absence of suffering. One day the joy became alive in me. It seems the joy was always effortlessly behind the mind attached pain. Suddenly I could be in the silent effortless joy. I couldn’t experience the effortless joy when my awareness stopped at the edge of thought. Paying complete and exclusive attention to thought constricts awareness to the boundary of thought. My focus was an unspoken consent to live in the mind imagined pain. My pain was enabled by the constricted consciousness. Being an awareness of the mind, an awareness of thought, reduced the suffering. It felt effortlessly calm and joyful. Odd sounding, I know.

If awareness was a beautiful building, your mind is like a person walking around inside the building critically commenting on everything–the furniture, the color schemes, the floor plan. Your mind wants to repaint, buy new furniture, and add a jacuzzi on the patio. Your mind believes it has to wait until the remodel is complete before it will enjoy the house. Whereas, awareness is a joy arising in the absence of suffering, before, during, and after your mind identifies what needs to be changed ‘next’ to make the house better.

And the funny thing is, the joy that arises during awareness is not even the same joy the mind experiences. The mind’s joy is always a comparison. You are joyful because something is better than something else. You are joyful riding in your new car because it is better than your old car. You are joyful because you are getting something others are not. That is an external joy arising for external reasons. There is nothing wrong with the creative energy of accomplishment or success. Unhappy minds have created most of the human technological advancements. Material success is proof of winning in the mind’s domain. Just don’t be surprised by the transient nature of external sources of joy. Your mind can’t hold happiness for long. A race your mind is winning is only interesting to you for a moment, if that. Your mind needs to find whatever is next. Your mind can’t help you be happy, it can only compare this moment to another, and decide which is better.

Awareness is an elegance arising in the absence of struggle. It is a grace you receive without reason. You need not deserve to receive, nor struggle to receive. Nor can you learn how to receive. Learning is also a mind function. There is no place you need to go to receive awareness. It is your natural and original nature. Awareness is the absence of struggle. It feels like who you are.

To your mind, this sounds stupid and weird. I tried telling a few of my friends when it first happened to me. They just couldn’t relate. So I gave up after a few months and just enjoyed what I was experiencing. Once or twice a year, someone would ask. “Why doesn’t life seem to get to you?” “Why do you smile so much?”

I never knew how to language how I was being. My explanations didn’t seem to translate through their listening. I watched their minds filter the information into the only world they knew. So I just started referring them to other sources. It worked for me and I wanted to help them, I just didn’t know-how. Over the last 20 years, a few books and speakers have started to discuss the subject. Their approaches were not as attached to belief systems, so it helped me begin to verbalize it in new ways. So I began writing and sharing youtube videos and later started another Youtube Channel.

Before this experience happened 30+ years ago, I read books like, “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “Think and Grow Rich.” Yet, mind control never worked for me. My mind seems to run too fast so I just got exhausted trying to control all my thoughts. I was never able to control my mind to think only positive things. I just got tired and my mind thought what it wanted anyway. Mostly my mind was positive anyway. But the soundtrack of my life wasn’t contentment. What I am talking about in this book is not thought control. This is not positive thinking. This does not teach how to change bad emotions into good emotions, or change bad thoughts into good thinking. This is about a way of being that is effortlessly content.

Controlling thought is not the same as being awareness during thought. I know, it sounds stupid to your mind. You are thinking, “If I wasn’t aware, how could I think in the first place?” I still have my mind, so I know what you mean. Technically you are right. All your thoughts are able to arrive because you have a platform of awareness. In fact, your mind can’t think without your awareness. The difference is sort of like the peripheral width of the awareness in which your thoughts occur.

If the awareness is no wider than the thought itself, then you attach yourself to all of the consequences of the thought, including pain. If your thoughts are critical, you feel the cut. If your thoughts are angry, you are the anger. If your thoughts are sad, you are the sadness. When your mind attacks another person in argument, you both give and receive the attack. When your peripheral awareness is only as wide as your thoughts, you are attached to your thoughts. Your thoughts are you. That is why it hurts. When you personalize the world, all the trouble starts. When you live in the belief that every thought you have is who you are, it hurts. You are much bigger than the thoughts you think.

When your internal state is not joyful right now, a peripheral awareness of how your mind thinks, is an opportunity for happiness to arise. Awareness passively observes thoughts from a place of wisdom. There is a wisdom so complete you won’t even need to judge your mind for thinking until it hurts you. Your internal temperature runs cooler and joy becomes more natural. Your mind even thinks more efficiently during your awareness of its thoughts. Your thinking works better because you are not so vested in the attached emotions. You won’t be so connected to being right. You will be able to enjoy other people more because you can listen all the way to the end of their sentences before you begin to form your reply; if you reply at all. You will not live in reaction. You will live in your life.

The happiness described here arises as a natural consequence of awareness of mind, rather than a strategy for change or control of mind. Strategy takes energy, learning, and concentration. Struggle and strategy are mind tools. There is no struggle, strategy, or change in awareness. Awareness is your effortless natural state. Awareness is an absence of struggle. Awareness of what is presently so, without judgment, without struggle, without decision, without change. Awareness with acceptance transcends pain. Watching life critically with your mind perpetuates pain. If you step back from the mind and observe from a place of awareness, the uncritical awareness of your critical mind transcends the pain it would otherwise create. Seeing your mind as an object within awareness is the end of suffering.

When you as awareness observes your mind not as you but as a thinking object within the awareness, the mind generated pain is unable to transfer into your body.

I neither believe nor suggest that you could get rid of your mind. You need not disturb your mind to live joyfully. Pursuit and awareness are in two different domains. Your mind has a purpose. Success is a moving target. It will always be next. Yet, you can be aware of your true nature as you take each step. Right now, I am aware of everything, including my internal state, and that awareness alone sets me free. Yet, I have a list of things to do on my desk today. My mind does its work, but it rarely causes me pain for long anymore.

Are you wondering if I have any formal training in reason or science? Your mind cares about this but it is irrelevant to awareness. I have a BS in Computer Science and a JD in law. I accomplished both and continue to practice as a lawyer, all while living in this awareness. You do not need to give up your worldly possessions, grow a beard, wear a robe, or burn incense, to live the awareness of which I speak. A robe, a beard, incense, or surrounding possessions neither help nor hinder true awareness. You can live joyfully in your present world in awareness of everything, including your mind. You will even develop extended moments of pure awareness in which your mind does not think at all.

Humans have known about this natural joy present in awareness for thousands of years. If you read the words of historical spiritual leaders, from this place of awareness, you will see that most of them were living this awareness. Often their followers didn’t understand what they were saying back then, or even now.

There is also an abundance of modern teachers of awareness. Some are doing a great job sharing the concept in simple ways that others can internalize. Other descriptions seem to complicate the message. Some present descriptions seem to glorify or even deify the teacher. I admire all efforts since it has been the essence of my life. There should be one hundred roads to heaven on earth. It is not so important how or who helps you internalize this. So keep looking until you find a way to internalize this. People call it different things, but it is universal and available to you right now. Literally right now. Stop reading as soon as you are the awareness.

I am attempting to uncomplicate this as best I can. It is simple and available. It is not about learning or thinking in a new way. It is a clearing in which thoughts may or may not be occurring at any given moment. You do not have to prepare or wait for this awareness. I am not special. I am simple. I am not better than anyone, certainly not you. I am speaking to the part of you that is just like that part of me. I want to wake you up to hear that part of you. If my style feels uncomfortable, please seek this awareness from another. This is good and true, and worthy. So stay on this path. Find someone that speaks this truth in a way that feels more natural to you. Hopefully, my simplicity will help you internalize this more easily. That is my goal as I write. My goal is for you to experience the joy that inhabits awareness, each moment of your life.

Okay, here it goes … perception.

That is the end of Chapter 1. Do you want to read Chapter 2–Perception? Do you want to have the entire eBook?  Grab a free copy of my eBook.

This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha.  Thanks for stopping by.