Happiness is one of those things that we think is based on each person's individual life situation. How much money do we have? Are we in a fulfilling romantic relationship? Do we have the career of our dreams? A great body? Most of us spend a large amount of our lives striving for these things, thinking they are the keys to happiness and peace of mind, only to find that once we get them, we keep wanting the next thing. There's always a next desire waiting to be fulfilled, with happiness dangling like a carrot just out of our reach. We always want more, it seems, when it comes to the outside world. And I'm sure you know people who seem to have it all but don't seem happy. So what gives?
In The Happiness Prescription, spiritual teacher and author Deepak Chopra shares his 10 keys to true happiness.
First, Deepak examines the question: What is happiness, anyway? He says when you really get down to it, people say they want peace, harmony, laughter and love. He defines happiness as a subjective state of well-being, joy and ease, when you're in the flow and things just unfold as they're supposed to.
If you're happy, he says, you're going to be healthier, have better relationships, do good/meaningful work and be successful and abundant -- not the other way around.
Deepak claims that there's a formula for happiness, which depends on three things:
Our brain's set point for happiness. One person sees a problem where another sees an opportunity -- could this be genetically determined? Deepak suggests that a regular meditation practice can change this biological set point, along with cognitive therapy (changing your false beliefs that are making you depressed).
Our life situation. Are you healthy? Do you have a nice house? Did you win the lottery? These things may actually be a very minor determinant of our happiness. They may make us happy in the short-term, but down the road we will go back to our pre-programmed happiness set point. A small percentage of our happiness quotient, Deepak says, is actually based on our life situation.
Our voluntary actions and the choices we make. Making choices that lead to fulfillment and deeper gratification really makes us happy. Having a sense of accomplishment, making a difference in the lives of others or in the world, feeling inspired, intuitive and conscious. This can bring great happiness, and making other people happy is what makes us most happy.
From a combination of ancient wisdom and more recent scientific research, Deepak derived his 10 keys to happiness:
1) Be aware of your body. Your body is a cosmic computer of universal intelligence. Listen to your body's messages of comfort and discomfort, and you'll spontaneously be able to make the right choices.
2) Live in the present moment. Don't attach yourself to anything or anticipate events. Just go with the flow, and you will connect to the domain of consciousness called nirvana.
3) Embrace silence. Meditate and observe your breath. The silence space between your thoughts is a field of infinite possibilities.
4) Relinquish your need for external approval. Be free of both criticism and flattery. Feel neither superior or inferior to anyone.
5) Get rid of your toxic emotions. Having a grievance is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy. Let go of your hostilities and anger.
6) Have complete knowledge of yourself. The world is a mirror of your state of consciousness. Ask yourself, "Who am I? What do I want?"
7) Don't judge others and don't judge yourself. Wake up and be thankful for being exactly as you are. Say to yourself, "Today, I will judge nothing that occurs." Forgive your shadows and the shadows of others.
8) Remove toxins from your life. Toxic substances, food, habits, emotions, work, relationships, environments, etc. It only creates imbalance in our lives.
9) Replace fear-based thinking with love-based thinking. Every time you're making a choice, ask yourself if it's going to cultivate the experience of unity and love or the experience of separation and stress.
10) Witness your awareness. Witness yourself as if in a movie. This means that you realize you're not your body or your mind; you are the alert witness to your consciousness.
GaiamTV.com ambassador Jenny Sansouci is the publisher of HealthyCrush.com, where she writes about nutrition, health, yoga and personal development. She is a certified health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, with a certificate in Food Therapy from the Natural Gourmet Institute. Her life is an intoxicating love affair with whole foods nutrition, natural health and general high vibe awesomeness, and she aims to show others that living a healthy life can be fun, pleasurable, and delicious.
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