A Monk’s Guide to Happiness Summary By Gelong Thubten

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

A Monk's Guide to Happiness is a book that provides readers with both philosophical insight and practical advice on how to break free from suffering and achieve inner peace.

Written by an author who has spent over 25 years training in Buddhist monasteries and taking part in intensive meditation retreats, the book contains creeds of wisdom accumulated over two decades of study.

Through its pages, readers learn about how Buddhism can help them find clarity about their lives, understanding about the nature of life, and ultimately happiness - not only in the moment but carrying into all moments to come.

A Monk's Guide to Happiness

Book Name: A Monk's Guide to Happiness (Meditation in the 21st Century)

Author(s): Gelong Thubten

Rating: 4.7/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Mindfulness & Happiness

Author Bio

Gelong Thubton is a highly-educated individual who knows what it means to experience burnout and the power of mindfulness.

He initially pursued an education at Oxford University before taking a different path and becoming an actor in both London and New York.

At 21, he suffered from burnout and joined the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland where he became an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk.

With 25 years of experience training, six years attending intensive meditation retreats and 20 years teaching mindfulness in schools, hospitals, prisons, addiction counseling centers, and corporate settings -- Thubten has become an expert on this topic.

Learn How to Develop the Superpower of On-Demand Happiness


It’s not easy to be happy anywhere, anytime.

But with the right training, it is possible.

That’s why A Monk’s Guide to Happiness is a must-read – it provides readers with the tools they need to learn how to generate on-demand happiness no matter where they are or what’s going on in their lives.

In this insightful book, you can find out why most people are looking for happiness in all the wrong places, and how you can train your mind to produce true and lasting contentment.

With the simple steps outlined here, you’ll be able to stay cool under pressure and overcome any hardships life throws at you.

If you’re interested in learning how to be happy everywhere, anytime – no matter where life takes you – then A Monk’s Guide to Happiness is a must-read!

What Is Happiness and How Can We Achieve It?

Happiness is not an elusive goal that can’t be attained; rather, it is a feeling of fullness and freedom which we can experience in the present moment.

To understand what true happiness is, we can look at its three main components: a sense of fullness so that we feel complete as we are and free from wanting things we don’t have; feelings of being anchored to the present moment such that our focus isn’t drawn to painful memories or anxiety-provoking thoughts about the future; and lastly, an overall sensation of liberation from negativity, disquieting desires and longing for what could be different.

With this understanding in mind, you now have an escape plan from the mental prison trapping many in unhappiness.

The Danger of Relying on External Factors for Happiness and How To Take Back Control

The A Monk’s Guide to Happiness explains that unhappiness is marked by a sense of incompleteness, absence, and captivity.

This feeling stems from the desires that we have in our lives – qualities we believe we must have to be happy.

We may turn these into goals and now feel as if there is a gap in our lives that needs to be filled.

At the root of this type of thinking is an assumption that external factors are going to cause us to find happiness – whether its material objects, experiences, or achievements.

Unhappiness on the other hand would come from the lack of all of those outside elements.

Unfortunately though, this way of thinking does not lead towards sustained happiness since it places our joy out of our control and at the mercy of outside forces.

Once you obtain something you want, delight will be felt but then soon replaced by another desire – leading us into an endless cycle.

Happiness ultimately cannot come from what we don’t have or what needs to be obtained in order for us to finally feel content with ourselves.

It lies within ourselves and should not depend on external circumstances; otherwise it will never last even once those desires are satisfied.

Our Constant Cravings for More Are Driven By Unhealthy Pleasure-Seeking and a Deeper Human Insecurity


According to A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, modern culture plays a major role in perpetuating our feelings of incompleteness and insatiable desire.

We are bombarded with advertisements that make us feel we need to buy something in order to be more beautiful, respected or efficient and social media pages often feature carefully airbrushed photos depicting lives that appear better than ours.

These things conspire to send us the message that “what we have isn’t enough,” leading us on an endless hunt for more stimulation.

What makes it worse is the overstimulation that comes from movies, TV shows, music videos, commercials, songs and junk food – each one giving us a brief “high” until it wears off and we’re left craving more.

Our brains become accustomed to these sources of pleasure and easily get bored or distracted if not adequately fed – turning us into pleasure addicts who can never seem to find fulfillment.

Stop Seeking Happiness in External Sources — It’s a Never-Ending Cycle of Dissatisfaction

The modern world encourages us to look for happiness in all the wrong places.

From material possessions and momentary pleasures, to romantic relationships or even beauty in nature—these are never a sustainable source of joy.

Nothing external can ever last forever.

If we rely on these external things to make us happy, it will only lead us down a path of continuous dissatisfaction—the people who always look for someone else to talk to at parties, unable to find real fulfillment in any single conversation; or trying desperately to hold onto something that is slipping through our fingers regardless of our efforts.

This compulsive behaviour only serves to reinforce the notion that our happiness lies outside of ourselves, leading to a state of constant seeking without ever feeling truly content.

Ultimately, if we want true and lasting happiness, we need to turn inward and learn how to be content with who we are and what we have.

If instead we make the mistake of looking outwardly for satisfaction, then what follows is sure un-happiness.

The Key to Happiness: Stop Pushing Away and Grasping, and Just Let It Be

Key to Happiness

In The Monk’s Guide to Happiness, we learn that unhappiness ultimately arises from trying too hard to grasp and push away our experiences.

It’s all too easy to suffer when trying to avoid what we don’t want, or when grasping for things or moments that will spare us from pain.

We get into a state of agonizing tension by resisting the undesirable parts of life – whether it be physical pain like a headache or an emotion like sadness.

Ironically, this futile attempt at avoiding suffering is the direct cause of much of our own frustration and dissatisfaction with life!

It’s a lesson that is hard to learn yet very powerful: We should strive in life for neutrality: let go of the impulse to push away or grasp and accept things as they are – no matter how unpleasant they may seem.

This doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on our goals; rather, we can apply ourselves passionately with clear awareness about elements in our environment which are out of our control.

Doing so requires significant mental training yet brings tremendous inner peace whenever achieved.

Unlock Happiness by Strengthening Your Mental Muscles Through Meditation

If you’re looking for an effective way to achieve greater happiness in life, meditation is the way to go.

However, many people misunderstand meditation and think that it’s just about feeling relaxed for 15 minutes a day.

The truth is, meditation is about much more than that – it’s about developing the skills necessary to be happier even when we’re not meditating.

To avoid the pitfalls of mistaken approaches such as grasping for the tranquil state or pushing things away from ourselves, we need to learn how to neutrally observe our inner experience.

In this way, we can become less affected by our thoughts and emotions, leading us towards greater joy and contentment.

This is why A Monk’s Guide To Happiness focuses so closely on encouraging meditative practices as part of its exploration of attaining personal wellbeing; because it knows that by training your “mental muscles,” you will be much better equipped with handling challenging situations in life with a sense of tranquility and calmness.

Only then can you truly unlock your fullest potential!

How to Leverage Meditation Techniques in Everyday Life and Reach a Greater Level of Mindfulness


In A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, the author explains how practicing mindfulness regularly can become a habit.

To do this, we must first understand what mindfulness is.

Mindfulness is essentially a mental exercise in which we neutrally observe our thoughts, emotions, experiences and sensations.

That means when applying mindfulness to everyday situations, it involves focusing on whatever is happening in the present moment without judging or pushing away anything that arises.

To practice this skill, the author suggests starting with beginner-level meditation exercises such as focusing on your body and breath as anchors for your attention.

Then, adding mindful moments into everyday activities like brushing your teeth or eating lunch.

By consistently doing these things, it will eventually become automatic and you’ll be able to summon inner peace whenever needed.

So by training yourself to mindfully observe what is occurring in your life each day rather than letting habits take over, practicing mindfulness will help us make it part of our normal routine!

Mindfulness is an Ongoing Practice That Requires Reassessing What We Believe We’re Doing “Wrong”

Meditating with mindfulness is important and can be beneficial, but how you practice this form of meditation matters, too.

Many people will close their eyes or listen to gentle music while meditating, but one should understand that the objective isn’t to find a sense of inner peace during meditation – it’s to achieve inner peace when not meditating.

This means that relying on certain methods in order getting into a mindful state might hinder your progress.

Training yourself to only reach this inner peace while having closed eyes and listening to soft music sends an unconscious message that mindfulness should only be practiced under special circumstances.

In reality, you should practice being mindful under all circumstances so that it’s always ready for use throughout your day no matter what the situation may be.

Be mindful of how you practice mindfulness meditation and make sure you’re training yourself for its accessibility whenever needed – even with your eyes wide open!

Wrap Up

The Monk’s Guide to Happiness wraps up by providing actionable advice on how to put mindfulness into practice.

To get started, readers can try ‘micro-moments’ of mindfulness – which are very short periods of focused attention throughout the day.

The idea is to ‘tune into’ the sensations we experience in everyday life like sitting in a chair or walking down the street – rather than just going through the motions.

After 30 days of practice, readers may find it easier to integrate mindfulness into all aspects of their lives – even those mundane or irritating moments like being stuck in traffic or waiting at the doctor’s office!

Learning to observe things neutrally instead of grasping for what we want and pushing away what we don’t gives us freedom from suffering and enables us to tap into true happiness.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.