You might wonder: why not simply teach these lessons directly? Why not simply tell others that they already have the conditions for happiness? Why not tell them to plant question-seeds in their minds and let them be for a while, engaging our unconscious minds to aid in finding the answer?

Because people aren’t good at internalizing facts. They are, however, good at internalizing stories. They’ll remember the story of the toilet when next they feel their lives lack the conditions for happiness before they’ll remember a platitude.

That’s why Nhất Hạnh’s “At Home in the World” is so effective. It collates a lifetime of experiences from one of the most wise, peaceful men on the planet, condensing them into story after story, and giving them to us in small, elegant, and beautiful doses.

The tradition of teaching the Dharma—the teachings of the Buddha—connects us to the wisdom of the founder of Buddhism, but you don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the lessons therein. The insight and wisdom of Thích Nhất Hạnh is for everyone, and the path toward a life of peace, reflection, contemplation, and joy can truly be found in his stories.