What’s the Secret to a Happy Life? Oprah Talks to Deepak Chopra
Oprah: Is that how you live your life?
Deepak: I do. I embrace the wisdom of uncertainty, because if everything is certain, where is the creativity?
Oprah: Okay, now let me tell you what you did for me. You know that over the years I've done at least a thousand shows on taking care of yourself, and I listen to Dr. Oz and go for regular checkups. But there's something different about having it modeled for you. So the other night when I arrived in Mumbai, I was feeling like a dishrag. You could have mopped the floor with me at that point, I was so exhausted. I hadn't slept in a week.
Deepak: I kept checking on you.
Oprah: I know. And when I said, "How are you?," I expected you to say, "Oh, I'm exhausted"—because you had just arrived, too. I expected you to go, "Oh, I can't do this." But what you actually said was, "I'm fine—I rested, I slept, I exercised, I did yoga, and I had a massage." And I went, "Oh." [Laughs.]
Deepak: I meditated, too.
Oprah: And meditated! So the next morning I got up, I meditated, I exercised, I got a massage, and I've done that every day since. And it changed my everything. What I realized is, you scheduled it. It was a part of your schedule. You put yourself first.
Deepak: Yes. You can only give what you have, right?
Oprah: Right. Except when I tell my producers that Deepak scheduled a massage for himself, they say, "Yeah, but you don't have time."
Deepak: [Laughs.] We have eternity. You know, as a doctor, I used to ask my patients, "Why do you want to get well?" They'd say they wanted to be rid of this illness. "Why do you want to be rid of the illness?" Oh, so I can go back to work. "Why do you want to go to work?" Oh, so I can pay my bills. "Why do you want to do that?" Then finally they'd say, "Shut up—all I want to do is be happy!" I say, why not start with happiness? Why go about it in such a circuitous way?
Oprah: So tell me this: Have you meditated every day of your life for years?
Deepak: For 40 years, yes. I try to live in the meditative state. I can say honestly that you can't get me upset.
Deepak: No matter what.
Oprah: Really. [Laughs.] How do you do that?
Deepak: I watch myself. By now it's become automatic.
Oprah: But how did you handle your critics back in the beginning?
Deepak: Oh, not well. I did not handle them well. I became resentful. I debated. I counterattacked. But then I started observing my reactions, and then I read a statement from Mr. Nelson Mandela that changed me forever. He said having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy. I never forgot that.
Oprah: So would you say at this point you have the ego under control?
Deepak: You'd have to ask my kids and my wife. But I haven't had an argument in my family for 30 years.
Oprah: Are you still growing?
Deepak: Yes. Yes. I'm beginning to understand the limitations of the scientific mind. Science is totally bewildered by the nature of our consciousness. If you ask a scientist where does thought come from, what is the source of imagination or creativity, or intention, or free will, or choice—the answer is we don't know. The more we know about the brain, the less we know about consciousness, which is amazing, isn't it?
Deepak: Only our consciousness can understand our consciousness. Only our soul can understand our soul.
Oprah: That's why it's so hard to put into words. And I think it's remarkable that you've written so many books—
Oprah: [Laughs.] I think it's remarkable that you've written 65 books trying to do just that.
Deepak: It's still a struggle. Half the time I've forgotten what I wrote!
Next: Deepak's greatest teacher of all time