August 4, 2016

How to Be Happier than Anyone You Know.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

by Deepak Chopra M.D.

The psychological study of happiness has waited a long time, which seems peculiar. Everyone seeks to be happy, and yet modern psychology has been focused on mental disorders for almost all of its history.

Only recently has the field of positive psychology emerged, and it has had a hard time getting a handle on happiness. Few really reliable facts have emerged, and there are leading theories that throw up their hands, claiming that lifelong happiness is an impossible ideal.


The reason for such a gloomy conclusion comes down to a belief that human beings, first of all, are bad predictors of what will make them happy. For example, having a baby is supposed to be a blissful event, yet among the biggest stresses in a woman’s life is taking care of an infant. Making more money doesn’t make people happier beyond a certain point, the point where finances don’t promote anxiety and insecurity. Some happiness researchers believe in an emotional “set point,” a predetermined level of happiness to which each person returns. If your set point is low, even the happiest experience will be temporary–within six months you will return to your set point.


But the least hopeful conclusion about happiness is that it occurs randomly. The notion that we blindly stumble into happiness, experience it for a while, and then move on implies that there is no control over being happy and no method for making it last. Therefore, when around 70-80% of Americans tell pollsters that they are happy, they are either fooling themselves, saying what is expected of them, or have very low expectations. Probably all three factors are at work.


These are the conclusions I discovered while researching my book, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, and yet it seems possible to have a very different, and far more hopeful, view of how to find lasting happiness. The key lies with a teaching found in India and other wisdom traditions around the world, which says that a person must choose between the path of pleasure and the path of wisdom. The path of pleasure tries to achieve happiness by increasing pleasure and decreasing pain. In many ways, this path is inevitable for almost everyone, because since infancy we’ve been conditioned to follow it.


The natural instinct to maximize pleasure and minimize pain isn’t all that natural, however. Near the end of a marathon or a football game, muscles are painfully sore, but athletes are driven by other motivations, such as the desire to win. Soldiers endure pain out of patriotism; mothers endure the pain of childbirth because they want to have a baby. In a word, higher motivations exist in everyone, for better or for worse. A wife who stays with an abusive husband may be motivated by wanting security, feeling hopeless that she can exist on her own, or believing that she must be a loyal spouse. In complex ways the simple maxim of being happy through maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain simply doesn’t work.


The first step on the other path, the path of wisdom, is to reject the pointless project of pursuing pleasure, and for most people it’s too big a step. In modern America we are overwhelmed by mass media, advertising, and pop culture. These combine to reinforce the myth that endless consumerism is the key to happiness, along with a belief that if you distract yourself with TV, movies, video games, restaurants, etc., you will wind up being happy. You can spend a lifetime floundering around in this welter of illusions, which is why the path of wisdom, although thousands of years old, remains rare.


The path of wisdom seeks to untie the bonds that force us to identify with pleasure-pain. A new identity, based on a secure self, must emerge, and once that is accomplished, the foundation is laid for a higher self. All of this happens “in here,” as awareness expands, matures, and transcends old conditioning. The methods for walking the path of wisdom are well-known by now: meditation, mindfulness, contemplative practices, and so on. Practical things like taking downtime and “in time” every day are useful. So is avoiding and reducing stress, attending to symptoms of anxiety and depression, and working on personal issues embedded from past traumas and wounds.


Meditate with Deepak by joining our Ananda community on the web and on a smartphone


There’s a lot to do that consumer culture ignores and minimizes, because consumer culture, including the culture of corporate success, is totally external, relying on the illusion that if you change things “out there” (by getting more money, possessions, status, and power), everything “in here” will be taken care of. The path of wisdom teaches that the exact opposite is true. Taking care of things “in here” is the prerequisite for happiness. The prospect of achieving lifelong happiness begins there, with one simple but profound realization.


Originally published by Linkedin

Write Your Comment

  1. Betsy

    So true happiness is come upon by enduring the pain of sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, desperation, but not by numbing.

  2. Betsy

    So true happiness is come upon by enduring the pain of sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, desperation, but not by numbing.

  3. Betsy

    So true happiness is come upon by enduring the pain of sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, desperation, but not by numbing.

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