4. Stop being distracted. Distractions are nice for whiling away the time, but the more hours you spend bent over a video game or the Internet, the less time you have for things that matter. All of us know that having a full heart is important, but it requires time and attention. As children, we counted on our parents to be warm-hearted. Secure in that knowledge, we could play and be carefree. But when you grow up, no one can replace your own heart and its needs. By "heart," I mean emotional fulfillment, compassion, kindness, bonding—the whole emotional core of life. Distractions will never bring these things to you, and they are among the most necessary aspects of a happy life.
5. The place beyond fear. Modern life is marked by instant communication and global outreach. These are good things, but they also make everyday life seem much more fearful. We live in a world where total strangers living far away can harm us. There is no place safe from fear—except inside. You can't do much to reduce the causes of external worry; bad people and bad things have always been with us. But you can take care of your own tendencies to be afraid, worried and anxious. There is a place of safety inside, and if you can find it, you will find the kind of happiness that bad people and bad things cannot shake.
6. Peace instead of stress . We all know that life is stressful, but many people think of stress as an outside element such as bad traffic, pressure at work, kids who won't pay attention, etc. Actually, stress is a response. How you react to the outside world is far more important than any outside stressor.
There is a stress-free zone inside you, a place of peace. When you find this inner core of the self and learn to know it, external stress will not make you its prey. I don't mean that you zone out and contemplate your navel, to use the old cliché about Buddhism (which was never navel-gazing to begin with). When you find your own peace, outside stressors will still exist, but you will have a far different response to them. You will know what to fix, what to put up with, what to walk away from. Those are very basic decisions if you want to maintain your own happiness.
7. A happy body based on wellness . As part of the American way of life, people wait until they are sick before turning to fix-its, meaning drugs or surgery. We ignore wellness and prevention after decades of being told how valuable they are. Their value hasn't diminished. In fact, your body wants you to be happy and is constantly sending signals of either contentment or distress. By turning our backs on our bodies, we are depriving ourselves of a major ally in the campaign to find happiness.
I don't mean that you should get a gym card and start jogging, although both are positive lifestyle changes. Your body doesn't need to be thin, fit and beautiful to make you happy. It needs to talk to you, and you need to listen. All the things you can do to find inner happiness require the body; the mind isn't living in a separate balloon. You will never stick with the best regime of diet, exercise, stress reduction and meditation until your body is comfortable with it.
Wellness is a mind-body alliance. What I'm proposing is that you form such an alliance. Distractions take us away from our minds; consumption takes us away from our bodies. We have taken up these things because mind and body aren't at peace with each other. Yet mutual peace is their natural state. Once you know that, you can go beyond superficial images about what makes for a good body. A good body is one that makes you happy because it supports you in wholeness.
In the end, wholeness is the keyword if you want the kind of happiness that can't be taken away. I've written much more about this in a new book, The Ultimate Happiness Prescription , but here in capsule form you've heard what it takes to be happy in a new way. Having spent so much time trying to be happy the old way—and not truly succeeding—we should realize that there is a new way. It could change your life right now.
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul , and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription , which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
What brings you happiness? Can you apply these seven principles of happiness to your life? Share your thoughts.
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