The Man Who Wanted to Be Happy
At the end of a holiday in Bali, Julian, an unhappy schoolteacher decides to meet a renowned local healer, Samtyang. Through daily sessions at the wise man's house, he begins to identify the source of his unhappiness as a series of simple questions and answers point to his own limiting beliefs and fears. Day after day, their dialogue is punctuated by live examples and challenges Julian is asked to experience on the island's mainland and its surroundings.
From international best-selling author Laurent Gounelle, The Man Who Wanted to be Happy explores the world of new possibilities that are open to us when we discover how to break free of what prevents us from being truly happy.
All too often we look to our external world to provide us sources of happiness. We look to relationships, careers, money, and security in vain attempts to feel good about our lives and ourselves. This search for “something” is really the thinly veiled pursuit of happiness and it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Just ask Julian, a vacationing schoolteacher in Laurent Gounelle’s The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy. During his final week of vacation in Bali, Julian seeks out a local healer in hopes of finding the source of his general malaise. Certainly there must be something medically wrong with him, he supposes. A quick examination by Master Samtyang reveals the problem: Julian is an unhappy person.
Julian spends the next several days engaged in dialogue with Samtyang about the nature of reality, quickly learning the basics of conscious creation. His lessons include the biggest lesson of all, that your thoughts and beliefs create your reality.
Master Samtyang uses Western examples to show Julian how he creates his own reality. He uses clear, simple analogies to illustrate points such as:
How Julian’s self-perceptions are the source of how people treat him
Where his beliefs come from
How beliefs filter experiences of reality
Using daydreams to form desired experience
How following dreams and impulses leads to the most fulfilling life possible
How expectations of others shape experience
How everyone in the universe is connected
How beliefs about money can lead to or deny happiness
During his weeklong journey into conscious creation, Julian finds himself where many others do when they’re first introduced to self-development concepts. He understands them on the surface—intellectually—but struggles with feeling them emotionally and fully integrating them into his experience. He is in the first stages of re-creating his life from a new perspective, using his newly acquired concepts to guide him along the way.
Julian is quick to understand the lessons he is presented with. In a few instances, the homework Samtyang assigns leads to a deeper understanding of key concepts and helps Julian begin to shift his perceptions to a new way of approaching life.
Who should read this book
Some readers learn best through storytelling and for them, this is an excellent introduction to the key points of conscious creation. The clear language and straightforward dialogue between Samytang and Julian provide a framework for the lessons and offer a quick-look at the concepts without much depth. The tropical setting of Bali gives a luscious quality to the storyline, helping the reader understand why our main character is suffering from unhappiness in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Readers familiar with self-development and new-age theories, however, may find the lessons too basic. Julian seems to anticipate the proper responses for each of the questions Samtyang asks, which sometimes seem out of place for a Westerner not familiar with such topics. In addition, the lessons themselves serve only as a basic outline; there is no depth to each point.
Julian’s story is not unlike many people who have started on the new age path. He begins to understand the finer points but we don’t see the struggle that will ensue as he attempts to integrate conscious creation into his life. That part of the learning curve—integrating the material into daily life—is the bulk of this work and is some of the hardest and yet most rewarding.
Those readers interested in new age concepts and self-development will benefit from an exposure to the concepts presented. Like seeds, the concepts presented are best planted and then nurtured through individual reflection and experience.
While I enjoyed The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy, I felt the book was lacking depth into the both the subjects lead character’s story arc. Although we can see how Julian struggles with the concepts when he’s alone, we can’t see what kind of impact the lessons will have on his life.
I do appreciate the examples Master Samytang brings up with Julian’s search for happiness. There are few gems in the material regarding Julian’s thoughts of changing careers that many may find useful. Even though the concepts are simplistic, the material is there and available as a good reference or refresher for the reader.
We come to understand that Julian has started a journey, a journey towards finding happiness. And as many have surmised already, this is a life-long journey that takes a considerable amount of time and effort. There is no Hollywood ending for the story, which feels a bit more natural and lifelike than other possible endings.
In all, this is a good introduction to conscious creation, presented in a fictional format, which makes it more relatable than some non-fiction works. But like any good workbook, the information must be applied through study, reflection and integration in order to make a useful impact.
FTC Disclosure notice
I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
The Man Who Wanted to Be Happy is a short work of fiction by author Laurent Gournelle. It was originally published in France in 2008 and sold over a million copies. The book is about a school teacher named Julian who vacations in Bali and decides to visit a well known healer named Master Samtyang. Master Santyang gives Julian a healing massage, and asks, "What's wrong with your life? Your health is very good. So what is it? Work? Your love life? Your family?"
Puzzled, Julian attempts to answer these questions and finds that he is not at all happy with these aspects of his life. With Master Samtyang, he begins a journey of self discovery into the power of thoughts and beliefs-- a lesson which transforms him in surprising ways.
"When you believe something about yourself, positive or negative, you behave in a way that reflects that thing. You show it to others all the time and even if it was originally a creation in your mind, it becomes reality for other people, then for you." -Master Samtyang
What I Liked About this Book
I loved this book. It was well written in its simplicity and gave even the advanced reader of spiritual metaphysical books something to ponder. The book is written in the tradition of Dan Millman's The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and The Celestine Prophecy where the reader is taken on a journey and questions his own life decisions along the way. It's always great to read a book where the reader is left better off than where they started and opens up an inner dialogue with the soul.
What I Didn't Like About this Book
There was really not too much about this book I didn't like. The daily lessons with Master Samtang could have been more involved and meatier. The author could have delved more in depth into the life of Julian and the issues he faced. There could have been a follow up visit. But overall, I like the light format. I think even readers with short attention spans who catch their spiritual lessons in sound bites will enjoy this novel.
The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy is the story of Julian, a man escaping from his unhappy and unfulfilling life during a vacation in Bali. He’s not happy, and he knows it, the problem is, he doesn’t know HOW to change it. So during this trip that he decides to consult a legendary and wise healer, Master Samtyang. Samtyang confirms that Julian’s health is good, but happy? Not by a long shot.
One of Julian’s problems is that he doesn’t have a partner, and most importantly, doesn’t think that he’s worthy of one. Why? Because he feels that he’s far too thin. Samtyang calmly explains to him the problem is not in his body, but in his head, and in the ways he believes women perceive him. That is an issue can apply to ANYONE. I am developing crow’s feet, and I’m not happy with certain aspects of my body, I have clients who think they are too heavy, too thin, too old, too anything. We ALL have something that we think jumps out at people, but the fact is, it seldom does. Samtyang explains to Julian that, “When you see yourself as ugly, other people see you as ugly…other people see us as we see ourselves.”
Julian’s lack of confidence with women isn’t the only area where he is having problems, his unhappiness carries over to other areas of his life, his beliefs, his fears, his work, his living situation, you name it, and most of his problems are based on his thoughts and core beliefs. We know that our thoughts create our reality, and Samtyang tells Julian just that, and how our core beliefs create those thoughts and in turn, allow us to interpret that reality.
Samtyang is able to do more than just TELL Julian where his problems stem from, he is able to SHOW him. Samtyang has Julian do a series of tasks, each one apparently meaningless to Julian at the time, but all working through the layers of his own unhappiness and limiting beliefs. Beliefs he put into place through his own experiences and his own thoughts. Why? “Listening to someone giving you a piece of information an finding it for oneself at the source is not at all the same thing,” Samtyang said.
That is the basis for all change – the work. I can’t have a client sign up for my services and expect me to fix their lives – if they do, they’ve come to the wrong coach. Each of us is ultimately responsible for the work – whatever that work may be. It is only through doing the work that change can happen, and for Julian, he put in the time, did the work, and turned his life completely around. He not only is able to see and address his immediate issues, Samtyang helped him visualize, prioritize, and take the steps he needs to radically transform his day-to-day experience and his career.
When it comes to changing, one of the most powerful statements comes when Samtyang says to Julian, “You mustn’t confide in people who will try to discourage you just to satisfy their own psychological needs. For example, there are people who feel better when you are down and will therefore do anything to stop you from feeling better! Or others who would hate to see you fulfill your dreams because it reminds them of their lack of courage to fulfill theirs. There are also people who feel their standing is enhanced by your difficulties because if gives them the opportunity to help you. There’s no point in being annoyed with them, because they do it unconsciously. But it’s better not to tell them your plans, they will make you lose confidence in yourself.”
I loved this book and the simplicity of its message. While Gounelle shares some universal truths, he does so in a way that makes the issues easy to address, not some obscure insurmountable goal. Would I recommend this book? Yes. In a heartbeat. In fact, I am ordering copies for my kids now.
I am a Hay House Book Reviewer, and received this book free of charge for review. My credibility, and the credibility of Zen Life Solutions, LLC, is extremely important to me, and I only review or promote products that personally resonate with my journey and our work. Hay House did not request a positive review of the book. This site is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.