Happiness is one of those things that we tend to 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 is 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 a video on GaiamTV, called “The Happiness Prescription,” spiritual teacher and author Deepak Chopra shares his 10 keys to true happiness.
First Deepak examined 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 seem to be in the flow and things just happen as they are supposed to.
If you’re happy, he said, you’re going to be healthier, have better relationships, do good/meaningful work and be successful and abundant — not the other way around.
Scientists, Deepak said, have found a “formula” for happiness. According to their research, happiness depends on 3 things:
Our brain’s set point for happiness. One person sees a problem where another sees an opportunity — some scientists say this is genetically determined. Researchers have shown that practicing meditation 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? This has actually found to be a very minor determinant of our happiness. These things can make us happy in the short-term, but down the road we will go back to the happiness set point. 15% of our happiness quotient, Deepak says, is actually based on our life situation.
Our voluntary actions – the choices we make. Making choices that lead to fulfillment, a 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, conscious. This can bring great happiness, and research has shown that making other people happy is what makes us the 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 the 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 anything. Just go with the flow, and you will connect to the domain of consciousness called nirvana.
3) Embrace silence. Meditate, observe the 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 total 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, and say, “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 is going to cultivate the experience of unity and love or the experience of separation and stress.
10) Cultivate witnessing 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, the consciousness.
Pretty deep, huh? What do you think of these keys to happiness?