For three years, I've been researching and writing about happiness. I've published two books and endless articles. Among my research and experiments, the following tips stand out as the four most powerful steps toward happiness. Follow them and you'll feel happier. I guarantee it.
1. Live your life's purpose.
Put another way, don't hate you're work. I once heard Deepak Chopra remark, "If you want to know how long you will live, ask how you feel on Monday morning." Identifying and living you life's purpose is not as hard as it sounds. Before every major decision, ask yourself, "Which choice feels right, is in line with my values, ignites my creativity and passion, and imakes me feel most alive?" Ask this question at work, at home, in relationships, every day. In the words of the late Steve Jobs, "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." Every swami, researcher, life coach, and psychic that I've met gives this same piece of advice: The way to develop this is to listen for and follow it. With time and practice your ability to identify your life's purpose clarifies and strengthens.
Meditation is the bomb. It raises your level of consciousness and makes it easier to identify and live your life's purpose. I often think of the scene in Return of the Jedi when Luke is fighting the emperor and at the same time Han and Lando are battling the empire's ships in space. Both these battles are happening simultaneously, and they both matter, but Luke's struggle with the emperor is what really matters. If he loses it, all fails. If he wins, game over. It's the same here. Searching for your life's purpose is very powerful. But ultimately, without meditation, it can be Han and Lando diddling around in the Millennium Falcon. Meditation, on the other hand, well, now you've awoken the spirit of Anakin Skywalker that still lives deep within Darth Vader, and you've transmuted darkness into the light. In other words, you can think a lot about who you truly might be, but meditation drops you right into it.
3. Be vulnerable.
As the Zen proverb says, "Not knowing is most intimate." When I pretend to have my life in order, I feel seperate from friends and family. I notice myself trying to be the funniest or most interesting, and it's exhausting. But when I'm vulnerable and honest, I relax and the dynamic shifts to a few imperfect humans sharing and connecting. When I interact from my ego, I'm insecure and competitive and ultimately alone. When I interact authentically, vulnerably, from my heart, I'm most connected.
4. Express gratitude.
Count your blessings. Thank God, the universe, chaos theory, Zeus or Tim Tibow, but do it every day. If you're not sure who to thank, you can talk to my Guru, Swami Kripalu. He's happy to listen. Start and end every day by giving thanks for five things you appreciate. Do this and you'll feel happier. I guarantee it.