For Danielle, a young woman we interviewed in Venice Beach, California, “happiness” is a vague and puzzling concept. It seems, she says, that there is no “straight happiness,” but rather continual fluctuation between states. And, unfortunately, at this point in her life many people around her seem to be wading through discontent.
In episode 2 of The Chopra Well’s show, Spiritual Solutions, Deepak addresses Danielle’s question. As a state of being to strive for, Deepak prefers to use the term “fulfillment,” which is much more dynamic. “If by ‘true happiness’ you mean ‘eternal happiness,’” Deepak says, “then you would be doomed to eternal senility.” You would have no drive, no inspiration to take action and “manifest your creativity.” The human experience is characterized by a vast range of human emotions, and it is this complexity that enriches us, inspires us to action, and creates the lush and vibrant tapestry of our humanity. And yes, even sadness has a part to play. This is what Deepak calls, “divine discontent.”
That said, there are things you can do to maximize fulfillment and pursue happiness. Here is the Happiness Formula:
H = S + C + V
Happiness = Set point in the brain + Conditions of living + Voluntary choices
“H” represents happiness, the state we strive to manifest.
“S” is the set point in the brain, how you naturally approach and react to situations. This determines roughly 40% of your overall happiness. Do you see opportunities or do you see problems? (Is the glass generally half full or half empty?) We use the term “naturally,” loosely. You can rewire your brain! First piece of advice: start looking for opportunities. Don’t jump to identify problems.
“C” stands for material conditions of living. Research shows that living conditions contribute only 10-15% of happiness. So pause a moment next time you want to blame your discontentment on the weather or the size of your house.
And last, “V” signifies voluntary choices, like entertainment, exercise, food, service projects, spending time with family …you get the picture. This constitutes about 45% of overall happiness. What voluntary choices do you make? What activities do you choose to engage in?
Watching a movie or shopping may bring temporary fulfillment, but there are other voluntary choices you can make that will sustain you in the long run. These include:
- Expressing your creativity (Start a project, take initiative, express your true self)
- Finding meaning and purpose in your life (Explore, question, meditate, discuss)
- Making other people happy (Give back, reach out, participate in your community)
More resources on happiness and fulfillment:
Check out #behappymakehappy on Twitter
To explore “spiritual solutions” further, check out Deepak’s book of the same title.