In addition to meditation and mindfulness, there are other practical ways to connect to our innate happiness and well-being. The following nine keys, gleaned from the world's wisdom traditions, may give you some insight.
1.) Listen to your body's wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, "How do you feel about this?" If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.
2.) Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don't struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.
3.) Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization.
4.) When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.
5.) Know that the world "out there" reflects your reality "in here." The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.
6.) Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.
7.) Support your body-mind by giving it the most nourishing food, experiences, and environment. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. Don't contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well-being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.
8.) Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.
9.) Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet's air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.
If you would like to explore the principles and practices for awakening to happiness in greater depth, I invite you to register at chopra.com for the Chopra Center's 8-Week Happiness Series, a free online interactive course that will help you connect to your own inner source of joy. Remember that just as a radiant sunrise can be hidden behind the clouds, our inner happiness can become obscured by constricted awareness and our daily concerns. But no matter how long we have been lost in fear and limitation, we can learn to rise above the clouds of conditioning and awaken to the source of happiness within us.
Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a best-selling author, teacher, and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. chopra