As a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, and public speaker for many years, Nancy Colier has listened to and counseled people searching for happiness that will light up their days and give them meaning. The author identifies with their yearning but is on another path:
"I began to glimpse a state of being that is steadfastly okay, even when our circumstances are not okay — a state that is deeper and more eternal than happiness. A peaceful, contented state that fed on what was real, here, and now. Indeed, it was not until I stopped relating to happiness as an object to be gained, stopped searching for happiness — as a way out — and started searching for what is — as a way in — that I discovered a doorway to somewhere far more blissful than happiness had ever taken me."
Colier offers this spiritual guidebook as a way out of searching for happiness and a way into discovering well-being and contentment. But make no mistake about it, we live in a culture that is addicted to escaping from suffering, pain, disappointment, and death. Or as the author cleverly puts it: "Life is supposed to look good, smell good, and be fun all the time."
Colier examines six inner-parent caretakers who try to shoo away unhappiness and then outlines a more authentic option that emphasizes self-growth and leaves behind the hard task-masters of blame, fear, neglect, and perfectionism.
She uses the practice of "inviting a monkey to tea" as a means of befriending our fears with gentleness and compassion. Another part of this process is holding our own presence and coming home to our natural state of being. That is where we will experience true contentment.