Meditation Articles Series

How To Be Happy

Last week I watched a movie on Happiness with Deepak Chopra. Deepak Chopra is an acclaimed author, teacher and doctor. He said that when people really reflect on what they want, it is to see a happier world, to be happy, and to make others happy.

What determines Happiness?

Apparently there is a set point in the brain that determines happiness which is genetically programmed. However, it can be changed in different ways. Drugs for example, can alter chemistry in the brain but they invariably have debilitating side effects. Cognitive Therapy can also change the set point of happiness. Here it’s possible to get rid of false beliefs by simply releasing an attachment to an idea and shifting a perception e.g. ‘I’m not good enough”, to a new belief, ‘I am okay just the way I am.’ MEDITATION can also change the biological set point. When a person meditates the pre-frontal cortex of the brain gets activated and releases its own chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin and opiates, which make us feel happy. The side effects of meditation are non toxic and harmless.

People often say, “If I won the lottery I would be happy,” or “If only I had a relationship I would be happy,” or “If my spouse understood me I would be happy.” Life situations are however, not a major determinant. According to Dr Deepak Chopra only 8-15% of the happiness quotient is due to lifestyle. When people do win the lottery, after the initial shock or euphoria their set point of happiness reverts to how it was. Things that give us immediate gratification like sex, food, alcohol, sport or something else only last a relatively short time.

What then makes us humans happy?

Again according to Dr Deepak Chopra fulfilment makes us very happy. When we are fulfilled we have a sense of accomplishment and a knowing that we are making a difference in the world. We become inspired and make choices that are also fulfilling for others. The key here is that making others happy is the golden rule.

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