Once you decide you want to be unconditionally happy, something inevitably will happen that challenges you…You just have to decide whether or not you will break your vow (to be happy) — Michael A. Singer
Michel A. Singer’s author of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself is one of several spiritual thinkers featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday in the past few years. His book, a New York Times bestseller, is a thought-provoking look at what makes us happy — or unhappy.
Although Singer relies heavily on the Buddhist concept of detachment for dealing with life — it is in his explanation of how ‘you’ are not your thoughts, where he grinds out some very simple, down-to-earth concepts.
First, like the quote above states, you have to decide if you want to be happy. Once you make that decision, he says you can start seeing the events of life as just events. Things that pass through you, but do not need to define you or even trouble you.
Secondly, Singer promotes the ideas of ‘getting behind your mind’. In other words, stepping back and watching the jumbled thoughts that continuously race through our minds and realize you can observe those thoughts without being controlled by them. He spends quite a bit of time in the book, explaining why we focus on some thoughts, resist other ones and in general let thoughts dictate our lives and our level of happiness.
He also offers some practical ideas on how to calm the mind.
One of the most entertaining passages in the book are two ‘make-believe’ conversations — both involving God. In the first, God is talking with a human and asks what he thinks of his creation. The first person complaints about the bugs that bite, the animals that howls and even their own personal appearance. The second individual is simply ecstatic at literally everything in creation. Singer poses the simple question, “Who do you think God wants to hang out with?”
The question, like others in the book, is what the book is really good at accomplishing — forcing you to pause and think — even if it is just for a moment.