“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

When I moved to London several years ago I didn’t really know the place at all. I’d visited a few times with my family for the odd touristy day out but still didn’t know my way around. So when it came to living and working here I knew I had quite a bit of learning to do.

I remember one day arriving at Waterloo Station wondering how to get to Aldermanbury, where I was due to start a new job. I had a vague idea but wasn’t sure about the quickest or most effective means of getting there. So I did what I thought was quite a sensible thing to do (particularly for a man). I asked someone! I approached a smart-suited, professional looking chap in the belief that he was probably a city worker and therefore bound to be able to help.

The reason that little encounter has always stuck with me is because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how many people go about trying to achieve a better life for themselves Jesus A Course in Miracles . They may have an idea of where it is they want to get to, but find it hard to take a step in the right direction because they resist the notion of having to start from where they are.

I’ve come to realise over the years that people can only experience dissatisfaction with their life when they believe that their situation should be different to how it actually is. I’ve noticed it with just about every client I’ve ever work with and I’ve certainly experienced it multiple times in my own life. Whilst I’ve helped a ton people work through an array of diverse and unique issues, the conversation that takes place time and time again is the one that invites us to accept reality just the way it is right now, before figuring out what to do next.

What we call ‘the stress of life’ rarely has anything to do with what’s actually going on, and has everything do with our thoughts and interpretations of what’s going on. As Human Beings we don’t ever get to experience the ‘real world’, we only get to experience our own thinking.

If we are unhappy with where we are right now, the cause of the feeling will be rooted in the thought that there is some other place we’d rather be. Or, if we are feeling stuck, that can only be due to the thought that there is a direction we are supposed to be heading in, otherwise there would be no reason to be unstuck.

When we contrast this with the way human experience really works, the only place we can ever get to is right here, right now. Thinking that we are supposed to be anywhere other than right here, right now can literally drive us bonkers.

The most stressful strategy we can adopt for motivating ourselves to change our situation (and don’t worry if you’ve been doing this, most of us have at one time or another) is to direct our emotional energy toward hating the way things are. We convince ourselves that if we can just muster up a strong enough loathing for our current landscape then we will be compelled to take massive action and finally break free from everything that has been holding us back.

There are a few reasons why this is a crappy way of doing things. Not least that it seldom works! 
How many times have you heard people complain about how bad some aspect of their life is and yet months, if not years, later absolutely nothing has changed? Over time they just got used to feeling bad; they habituated into their negativity, which not only set them on a path of blaming and complaining, it also shut them off to the kind of inspired thinking they would have needed to turn their ‘right here, right now’ into something better.

Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped, “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.” If the truth of that statement were allowed to sink into most people, half of what is written about happiness would become obsolete. Literature abounds with promises that equate to if you will but do this, and then you will be happy-as if happiness were dependent upon some externality to come to fruition.

Into that fray comes Raf Adams’ The Suited Monk which reads like a cold drink of water in the midst of a desert landscape. Instead of situating happiness as making endless revolutions on the carousel of life while straining for the elusive brass ring, this treatise promises happiness now- if you are willing to alter your perspective.

Drawing on his own experiences of career burnout and even the disenchantment that forsaken love brings, Raf introduces the Life Journey Model. A schematic which attempts to answer the probing question: What am I here to do? When the reader understands that the intuitive internal world actually informs the external reality, he will be squarely on a path to fulfillment (and happiness, by extension).

In fact, a life that is spent too worried about externality will make its adherent unhappy since so often rejection and pain are the hallmarks of existence. Not to worry, indicates Raf – seek to “Bridge the Gap,” by relying upon your inner guidance. Move away from rejection to acceptance by letting go of past emotional hurts, putting negative ideology away, and moving forward to the positive experiences that will unfold before you.

Such an interesting concept is the basis of the works’ title: The Suited Monk. Who could be more in touch with the existence of externality and internality than someone who spends his life his reflective contemplation? Such revelation is a clarion call-each person who reads this book is like a suited monk. You wear your required “uniform” to help you get through life… but you are also dressed in the garb of a monk, one who is intimately aware of your internal situation, opting to focus on positivity rather than be ensconced by the negativity of this world.

As a Christian, this reviewer differs with the author on the point of “internal divinity,” instead opting to believe that humankind has the indelible impression of her Creator embedded into her existence. In that way, people should live their life by seeking fulfillment to help their fellow humans, instead of maliciously seeking to undermine others for sordid gain. Adams’ thoughts will help Christians find ways to put their perspective into practice.