The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh


The Power of Happiness

Power is usually viewed by society as money, fame, political clout, and other external successes. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a great power, one in which we are happy in the moment without worry, fear or any other negative emotion.

The author wants us to understand that happiness does not depend on anything external. While we accept this philosophically, living with the belief that our happiness does not depend on others or on any material success is difficult. I have struggled with this idea for years. How about you?

Thich Nhat Hanh claims that in order to make another person happy, you must be happy with yourself. This is the difference in Being and Doing. “If you don’t succeed in Being, you can’t succeed in Doing” (89). Read this quotation again. Do you see the significance? I’m not asking if it is easy; I know it is not.

We justify our multitasking as a good thing, and we are proud that we can balance family, work, and recreational activities with other demands. Are we happy, though, in the sense of Being at peace within? Or are we so busy Doing that we forget our constant activity is to be liked and approved of by others and/or ourselves? What if we stopped Doing for a while and concentrated on Being? How might our lives change? Might we become happy?


Happiness is about having a path and knowing where we are going. It is about living in the present, not arriving at a goal. You can still remember the past and think about the future, just don’t dwell on past events or worry about future ones.

Living in the present forces us to concentrate on what we are doing at that moment. How often do we keep going on a daily basis, caught on the treadmill without an awareness of what is happening within or around us. Instead, try being still, being quiet and being at peace.

Mindful Walking is one of the author’s practical exercises to learn to walk with awareness of every step and not think of other events. Now there’s an experiment. This takes time. It won’t happen with one or two tries. Quieting our minds is not easy, and it takes some training.

You can begin Mindful Walking once a day and build up from there. Let it happen. Let it take the necessary time. Rushing to prove we can do a task is a Doing activity. This is a Being one in which we are happy in the process without concern for the result.

Buddhist Wisdom

I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s simple wisdom: Do good things. Don’t do bad things. We do know what that means but how often do we get caught in the moment and choose unwisely? How simple if we could just remember his advice.

Although the author is a Buddhist monk, there is no need to believe in Buddhism to learn from his words. You will, however, gain an appreciation and understanding of that philosophy. His practical approach and daily applications show spiritual concepts in everyday terms. This book will keep you thinking on each and every page, and being mindful with each and every step.


Source by Cheryl A. Chatfield, Ph.D.