When it comes to mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace, Deepak Chopra has long been acknowledged as one of the world’s experts. Now he has turned his attention toward a new topic: happiness.
In The Happiness Prescription, a new PBS program and Gaiam DVD set, Chopra discusses the latest research on what makes people happy and how happiness relates to health and well-being, healthy relationships and overall success in life. Using his knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings and relating them to a contemporary understanding of consciousness, Chopra leads an inspirational journey toward a prescription for living life mindfully, joyfully and with effortless spontaneity. We talked with him about happiness.
Q. What inspired your interest in happiness?
A. My interest in happiness was sparked by my observation that happy people are healthier. They tend to have good relationships, and they tend to be successful.
What’s the latest research on happiness?
There is a lot of research that shows that we have a set point in our brains for happiness that is determined by genetics as well as our upbringing. Happy people tend to see opportunities, where unhappy people tend to see problems. However, the research doesn’t address existential unhappiness, which comes from a deeper domain of awareness. It has to do with the fear of mortality, as well as not knowing the answers to the deeper questions, such as, Do we have a soul? Does God exist? What happens after we die? For these answers we need to look to the wisdom traditions, particularly the wisdom of Buddha.
Can happiness be learned?
Yes! Just like riding a bike can be learned, being happy is a skill anyone can acquire.
What are a few simple steps we can take right now to be happier?
Don’t focus on “me” and “mine.” See the connectivity of everything that exists. Focus on making other people happy. Take time to meditate and to make conscious choices, always asking yourself, Is this choice going to make me happy or unhappy? Will it make others happy or unhappy?
Can we be truly happy when there is so much suffering in the world?
When we share the suffering of the world we experience compassion, which leads to love which leads to happiness.
What is the difference between happiness and bliss?
Bliss is a profound state of peace that comes from getting in touch with the immortal aspect of your being that is called the soul. Bliss is eternal and cannot be shaken. Happiness is usually situational.
To watch The Happiness Prescription on PBS, consult your local listings.
The Happiness Prescription DVD set is available at Gaiam.com.
For more information about Deepak Chopra, visit www.deepakchopra.com.