Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

Dear Integral Meditators,

How much do you value your happiness? How much of it is in your hands, as opposed to fate? How much effort does it really take to become consistently happy in the way you ‘want’ to be? In the article below I share some of my own story and experience on this topic.

If you like the article & are in Singapore, I will be doing a session on ‘How to rest naturally in the present moment’ in tonight’s Tuesday class, as well as at the Wednesday class.

Full details for workshops for October are below the article.

In the spirit of mindful happiness,


Am I happier now than when I was a Buddhist Monk? (Repetition and inner growth)

After I graduated from University in 1994, I spent the next eight years focusing very intensively on meditation and inner growth. This included four years as a monk within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In 2002, I left the ordained life and founded my own mindfulness training business in Singapore, which I am still fully involved in and passionate about.

One of the questions that I am asked quite often at talks, workshops and classes that I facilitate goes something like this: “Are you happier now than you were as a Buddhist monk, leading a relatively simple, worry free life of meditation?”

To this my answer is always emphatically ‘yes!’ for the following reason: I am happier now because, since moving back into the life of a layman, I have been practising the basic happiness skills that I learned as a Buddhist monk repeatedly for many years and I have got better at them. As a result my happiness has steadily improved year in, year out over the sixteen years since I left the ordained life.  I can also say with confidence that my basic happiness levels will continue to steadily improve in the years to come. This will happen in spite of the added stresses that comes from running a business, marrying, divorcing, starting a family, being a father, a partner and all of the other aspects of ordinary life that I am now fully engaged with.

For me this really boils down to the value of consistency and repetition. Quite often when people think about inner transformation there is a gap in their mind between the amount of effort they THINK it will take to change bad habits, and the amount of effort it ACTUALLY takes. When they realize that the change that they are looking for will take longer than they thought, they get discouraged and give up.

So, what we are looking for from a ‘mental fitness’ point of view is developing the ability to practice good mental, emotional and spiritual habits slowly and steadily over a long period of time. This means becoming more like the tortoise than the hare in that traditional children’s story about the race between the hare and the tortoise. We do not want to start off with a lot of enthusiasm, only to lose it when the going gets tough and give up. Rather we need to practise gentle, sustainable effort over a long period of time, without being in too much of a hurry to see results quickly.

This can be difficult for people in this day and age as we are living in a society that has such a quick-fix mentality, where results are wanted instantly. In my experience there are no such methods for deep sustained happiness and fulfilment. Rather, this comes from repeating good happiness habits again and again until they become hard wired into our system. Once they are hard wired in this way, then happiness really does become effortless because it is just a subconscious habit, and natural way that we have of viewing and engaging our world.
In conclusion, the basic message of this article is: find out what genuine good quality happiness habits are, then repeat, repeat, repeat!

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation Classes at One Heart with Toby (East coast)

Starting Tues/Wed September 5th/6th – September & October Five Class Meditation Series: Cultivating Deep Experience of the Present Moment

Saturday October 21st, 10am-5pm – Meditations for connecting to the Tree of Life, and growing your own personal Life Tree

Saturday 21st October, 2-5.30pm – Going From Over-whelmed to Over-well: Meditation for Quietening the Mind – a three hour workshop

Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

Saturday November 25th 10am-4pm – Mini ME Retreat #2 : Mindful Eating + Reiki Sound Bath with Tiffany Wee & Elaine Yang

Integral Meditation Asia

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