e-book

mental_health 

You are welcome to download my e-book “Are You Happy?” or read the condensed version below.

 

Are You Happy?


Introduction

Let us start with a question.  Are you happy?

Whatever your initial response might be, it is certain that you could be happier.  It is also possible for you to sometimes be less happy than you are right now.  Your current level of happiness is at some point on a continuum between absolute misery and pure ecstasy. 

When asked how we are, we often say that we are fine, but that does not provide much information.  Unless we happen to be in complete and absolute misery, perhaps a better answer would be to say that we are happy and that we are getting happier.  After all, isn’t that what we want in life…to become happier?  So how do we become happier?

The following poetic lines raise some important questions about finding happiness.

Through this song, the author suggests that seeking the answers to life’s profound questions can itself be confusing and discouraging, causing one to move down the happiness continuum, instead of up toward “fine” and beyond.  As she hints, “lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.”  Notice that she does not say lightness is impossible to hear.

When we take ourselves too seriously, we get in our own way.  It is through detachment from the ego that we begin to find true happiness and hear that call.  We begin to understand that happiness does not come from satisfying our desires, but from becoming free of those desires.

This book explores happiness and how to increase it, both for ourselves and for others.

Are you happy? 

 

The question “Are you happy?” seems very simple and straightforward.  If we examine each of these three words, though, we find that the question itself yields valuable clues to the “source” that Saliers wrote about.  While happiness is a result of both our condition and our environment, the primary contributing factor is the choices we make.  Understanding who we are and how we got here helps us to make better decisions in our lives and increase happiness.

Reflection:Which of the following points on the happiness continuum describes your usual level of happiness? 

Radiant

Joyful

Content

Melancholy

Depressed

 

Are 

 

To understand the first word of the question “Are you happy?” we can refer to the dictionary.  The word “are” is a form of the word “be,” the definition of which is:

It is notable that the dictionary includes a quote from Descartes in this definition.  His famous statement “I think, therefore I am” has many implications.  The point most relevant here is that we are conscious of our own existence.  The power of reflection allows us to understand our own condition and to make decisions that will increase happiness for ourselves and others.  In other words, we can comprehend what it means to “be” and we can choose how to “be.”  We can choose to be happy and to make others happy regardless of our current condition and environment.

 

You 

The next word in our question is “you.”  This word implies separateness and individuality.  We are all made of the same stellar material and we are all in a constant state of change, yet we each have individuality.  Though science has not identified where this individuality resides within us, or without us, we know that our thoughts are our own.  You think because you are, not because somebody else is.

To understand who we are, we look at the world around us for comparison.  Doing so, we find that happiness is not the only continuum we exist within.  On the size continuum, for example, we can compare ourselves to the smallest of particles or to the immensity of the universe.  We can feel either enormous or miniscule in comparison. 

The size of the universe is unfathomable.  It is estimated that it would take 13-15 billion years for light to cross the universe as it exists today.  On the other hand, our bodies are composites of trillions of cells, each comprised of atoms.  Within each atom we find smaller particles, such as protons, and it is believed that protons are made of even smaller particles known as quarks.  Humans exist somewhere on the continuum between quarks and the universe as a whole.

 

Despite the awe-inspiring size and complexity of our universe, you are unique.  You possess capacities that nature does not have.  Nature is dominated by its own…well…nature.  It follows the path of least resistance.  It takes the easy road.  Animals, for example, always follow their instincts, whether learned or genetic.  For an example of genetic instinct, an animal may make a choice that is detrimental to itself, but which benefits its offspring.  This choice is influenced not by compassion, but by genes.

Humans, on the other hand, are capable of taking either path, that of least resistance or that of greatest resistance. 

 

It is our capacity to overcome our ego and id (as Freud called them) that allows us to make choices that provide us no material benefit.  We might make such choices because they benefit others.  Or we may choose this road less traveled because we have faith that it is the “right” road, despite our instinct to take the easier path.  This free will we have makes us unique among all of the species on Earth.

 

While we each have our individual free will, we are also all connected to one another and to the universe as a whole.  Everything on Earth is made up of energy that originated from stars.  Our bodies are constantly renewing themselves with atoms, drawing on energy from the sun that has been captured and stored in plants.  For example, an atom from a mineral can be absorbed into a vegetable and then, when eaten, into an animal and/or human.  Our bodies eventually return to dust and nourish the soil.  These processes connect us with the Earth at the atomic level.  

At the subatomic level, it is believed that electrons are not subject to the same laws of space and time that we are used to.  A change to an electron at one end of the universe can theoretically cause an immediate change at the other end of the universe.  An electron can also be at two places at the same time.

 

Subatomic particles within us are theoretically capable of transcending space and time as we know them.  This raises the question of what capabilities we have.  Because we are made up of this mystical energy, we may be capable of tremendous physical, intellectual, and spiritual acts that we are not yet advanced enough to comprehend.

How can we tap into this spiritual capacity?  What is it that binds the elements together?  What is it that allows us to take the high road instead of the easy path?  It is the power of attraction, a power that is, in essence, love.

So you are an amazing collection of atoms that came originally from stars.  You have consciousness, yet you are intricately connected to the rest of the universe.  You have instinct, yet you have free will.  You are material, yet you are spiritual.  You are energy and you are love itself.

Happy 

 

We have examined that we are, and we have examined who we are.  The third word in our initial question is “happy.”  What does it mean to be happy?  How can we increase happiness?

We often think of happiness as a good feeling.  This can be brought on by pleasure, by a decrease of pain, or by any means that increases the level of serotonin and endorphins in our brains.  Yet this happiness is transient in nature.  We cannot expect to be in this state continually.  If asked how we are, we cannot truly answer that we are happy and getting happier if happiness is only a measure of serotonin and endorphins.

To be truly happy is to have no concern for pain or pleasure, since both are transient in nature. 

 

True happiness can be found through love.

 

The love that leads to happiness is a selfless and continual love, for love that is conditional is only temporary in nature.

Increasing the love we have for others and for existence itself increases happiness.  Increasing happiness in turn increases love.  The process is cyclical, but takes conscious effort, the choice to be happy.

Happiness

Love

 

Love increases with detachment from pain and pleasure.  Love is attraction to the beauty and wonder of the universe and to our source.  As detachment and love increase, happiness increases.  True happiness is spiritual in nature.

So…are you happy?  Does the ‘miracle that is you’ exist in a state of love for life and the beauty of nature?  However you may feel at this moment, you are somewhere on the happiness continuum.  You are happy and will become happier.

 

How can we continually increase happiness? 

 

Abraham Maslow, the Founder of Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, wrote about self-actualization and what he called peak experiences.

 

How do we become our best selves (self-actualized) and increase happiness and inspiration (peak experiences)?  How do we continually increase happiness?

 

To increase happiness, we must be willing to change.  We might need to change habits, actions, environments, and especially thoughts. 

 

How do we know what to change and how to change?  We can study self-actualized people, as Maslow did, we can look to science or religion, and we can turn to our own beliefs.  All of these methods have their limitations, though. 

Our perceptions are influenced by our thoughts and beliefs, our environment, and our habits, the same things we are trying to change.  So when we find a spark of truth, we should judge it from various perspectives.  Does it make sense?  Does it feel right?  Does it conform to science?  Does it support our inner beliefs regarding what is right and true?

 

Using these criteria, we can examine what we know and separate fact from fiction.  We can answer life-long questions and uncover new mysteries to solve.  We can search our source for some definitive, but not through self-reflection.  Rather we can take a holistic view of our inner and outer worlds and see how the mystics of the past and the scientists of today reached the same conclusions.  We can see an essential unity throughout the universe.  We can learn to let go of our selfish thoughts and recognize the beauty of all creation.

What is our source? 

 

By understanding our source, we can better understand who we are, why we are here, what choices we should make, and what our destiny is.  Science and religion have both contributed to our understanding of the universe and our part in it. 

Genesis suggests that the world was created out of darkness and began with light.  Bohm also suggests that the cosmos are not made of matter, but energy.  Science and religion agree that we are essentially made of energy…light…spirit.  As electrons are not confined to time and space as we know them, so are we essentially spiritual in nature, our physical being only existing as a collection of particles made of energy.  This suggests that what is real is not what we see, hear, and taste; reality is what exists beyond our senses.  Reality is our ability to reflect, to love, and to imagine. 

The finite world cannot be its own source.  Even if existence has only energy at its core, that energy must have a source.

A painting cannot comprehend its painter, so how can we comprehend our source?  If our source is above our comprehension, then whatever name we ascribe to it will be inadequate.  We may use names like Creator, God, Allah, or many others, but none of these would be a description, only a name.  These titles should be considered interchangeable since they all refer to something beyond our human conception and any connotations we ascribe to them are based on our own limitations.

While we do not know what God is, we know what creation is and we know that the Creator must be far greater than the creation.  We get a glimpse of that greatness in the miracles of the universe and in the teachings of the great Teachers of the past.

 

The great Teachers of the past have provided the spiritual guidance for mankind to evolve from living in clans to tribes and from cities to states.  The messages of these great Teachers are often viewed as conflicting, but much of this conflict can be traced to misinterpretation, mistranslation, and misapplication of the principles They taught.  Other conflict can be explained by differences in the social needs of Their followers.  As we find unity in the foundation of the universe, we can find unity in the foundation of religion.

The more we detach from our material nature and develop our spiritual nature as we seek our source, the more we find attributes of God in everything. 

Reflection:Mark the statement that most closely reflects your belief.

–         The universe is God. (pantheist)

–         The universe was created by a loving God. (theist)

–         The universe was abandoned by God after its creation. (deist)

–         The universe contains many Gods. (polytheist)

–         The universe was not created by a supreme being. (atheist)

 

Dual Nature 

 

Religion teaches us that we have a spiritual side.    

Science has not disproved our spiritual side and in some cases provides evidence of it.

 

Artists and writers also recognize that we have a higher nature, in addition to our lower nature.

 

While animals are ruled by their instincts and genetic programming, we humans have the capacity to overcome our animal nature.  We can choose to act in the interests of others even when we and our genes will not benefit from the decision.  There are countless examples of humans acting with altruism.  To do so is to follow one’s spiritual instincts instead of one’s material instincts.

 

Science has begun to show that different areas of the brain correspond with our two natures.  Paul MacLean named the most ancient and central portion of the brain the reptilian complex, in his Triune Brain Theory. (Caine) This portion of the brain is closely tied to our fight or flight instinct.  Over the millennia, mammals evolved what is known as the limbic system in the brain.  Among other advancements, the limbic system allows mammals to show more emotion than reptiles.  Finally, the neocortex evolved, providing humans with advanced intellectual capacity as well as our abilities to reason and solve the mysteries of science.  Our greatest insights often come not only from deduction or debate, but also from moments of intuition and inspiration, made possible through the operation of the highly-complex neocortex.

Neo-cortex

Limbic System

Reptilian Complex

 

 

The happiness we are capable of transcends the happiness of animals.  Material happiness is temporary, but spiritual happiness is timeless.  Spiritual happiness does not require satisfaction of the ego, it requires independence from the ego.  To let go of our lower nature is to embrace our higher nature, to turn away from self and toward love, toward reality, toward our source.

 

Material Nature

Spiritual Nature

Free Will

 

Knowledge, Volition, and Action 

So how do we develop our neocortex and learn to control our reptilian cortex and limbic system, in order to achieve spiritual happiness?  How do we detach from our ego so that we can choose the right path?  This requires knowledge of our options, the will to make the higher choice, and then action. 

We must both be spiritual and act in a spiritual manner.  To be spiritual is to be aware of our higher nature and to desire its development (knowledge and volition).  Action comes from doing, putting our will into motion.  So knowing and desiring spirituality is only the beginning.  We can then live in a spiritual manner so that our actions are in harmony with our being.

 

Knowledge 

 

The soul requires knowledge to advance.  Studies of feral children have show that when a child is deprived of education and social interaction, the child will behave like an animal.  Morality and spiritual growth require knowledge.

 

Knowledge of our spiritual nature can be obtained through study.  The most profound sources of information about our spiritual nature are the holy scriptures of the world’s religions and their interpretations by philosophers.

Another source of spiritual knowledge is inspiration.  The path to inspiration is the path of prayer and meditation. 

The most powerful prayer is an expression of love and praise for the Creator. 

If a person does not feel love for the Creator, they can pray out of respect.  Eventually love will develop.  If respect for the Creator is lacking, one can at least pray out of a desire for self-improvement or self-preservation. 

Prayer is a natural state and should not be just an occasional action, but a state of mind. 

 

Reflection:Think of something inspirational that you have learned. 

Think of something that you knew without being taught. 

 

Volition 

 

Once knowledge is obtained, volition (will) is necessary.  Our free will allows us to choose between our two natures.  A spiritual nature can overcome a material nature the same way light overcomes darkness.  Our spiritual nature is real and has unlimited power.  Our material nature is illusory, but can be guided by the soul.  It is up to each of us, though, to choose which nature to develop.

Since our material instincts develop before our spiritual instincts, we tend to view the physical world as reality and the spiritual world as illusory, although the opposite is true.

We are constantly tempted to focus on the physical aspects of life, which in truth are secondary in nature. Believing and remembering that we are inherently spiritual helps us to focus on what is most important, our spiritual nature.  When considering issues that are material and therefore secondary, we should consider how our choices will impact us spiritually. 

Life is full of yellow lights.

Our choices of occupation, lifestyle, and even spouse take many factors into consideration, but primary importance should be given to be the expected impact on our spiritual development.  It is through our own spiritual growth that we can make others happy.  Spiritual growth is primary; all other considerations are secondary.

Less critical choices can also be viewed in relation to their spiritual impact.  Doing so makes it easier to reject trivialities in our lives and focus more energy on what will make us and those around us truly happy.  Our every thought and every action have an effect on the world.

Once we examine our current circumstances and the choices we made that brought us to our current state, we can better understand what choices we need to make now and in the future in order to continually increase health and happiness.

 

Reflection:Think of something you knew you should do, but had difficulty deciding to do.  It was your free will that allowed you to eventually choose between what you knew was the right action and its alternative.

 

Action 

 

To act, to do, is to put into motion the power that comes from knowledge and volition.  Many of our actions are automatic and occur at the subconscious level.  Other actions are made by choice.  Despite our tendencies (nature), these decisions can be influenced by what we have learned and practiced (nurture).

 

Whenever the choice is between one’s spiritual nature and one’s material nature, the spiritual choice will ultimately lead to greater happiness.  Once the choice is made, action makes it a reality.

Knowledge, volition, and action are cyclical.  The more we know, the stronger our will; the more effective our actions, the more we learn.  By being, we do; by doing, we become.

Volition

Action

Knowledge

Reflection:Think of something you know you should do and have decided to do, but have not yet done.  Once you act, your knowledge and volition become manifest.  Until then, they are hidden.

 

Virtue 

Virtues are the qualities we develop to make better choices and create spiritual habits.

There are many virtues.  For the sake of simplicity, some key virtues are presented here in nine categories.  These categories are based on the “fruit of the Spirit” listed in the Bible.

The first category is love.  You will find meditations on the love virtues below, along with a reflection exercise.  The same pattern is followed for the remainder of the nine categories.

Love 
Caring
Charity
Compassion
Cooperation
Courtesy
Friendliness
Generosity
Helpfulness
Kindness
Service

 

Reflection:Think about a person who loves you.

Think about a person you love.

What can you do to increase love in your life?

 

Joyfulness 
Creativity
Curiosity
Enthusiasm
Excellence
Honor
Humor
Idealism
Industry
Spontaneity

 

Reflection:Think about a person who gives you joy.

Think about a person who receives joy from you.

What can you do to increase joy in your life?

 

Peacefulness 
Flexibility
Gratitude
Harmony
Sensitivity
Tact
Thankfulness
Tolerance
Tranquility
Unity

 

When we are all allies, there will be no enemy.

Reflection:Think about a person who gives you peace.

Think about a person who feels peace from you.

What can you do to increase peace in your life?

 

Longsuffering
Commitment
Defiance
Determination
Devotion
Diligence
Loyalty
Obedience
Patience
Perseverance
Steadfastness

 

The lion that pounces early goes hungry.

Expect more from yourself than you expect from others.

Reflection:Think about a person who is patient with you.

Think about a person with whom you are patient.

What can you do to increase patience in your life?

 

Gentleness 
Caution
Consideration
Discretion
Impartiality
Justice
Objectivity
Openness
Understanding
Wisdom

 

Reflection:Think about a person who is gentle with you.

Think about a person with whom you are gentle.

What can you do to increase gentleness in your life?

 

Goodness 
Honesty
Innocence
Integrity
Purity
Reliability
Responsibility
Self-discipline
Sincerity
Trustworthiness
Truthfulness

 

Ethics is not a matter of black or white; it is a matter of transparency.

Reflection:Think about a person who is honest with you.

Think about a person with whom you can be completely honest.

What can you do to increase honesty in your life?

 

Faith 
Assertiveness
Bravery
Confidence
Courage
Purposefulness
Strength
Trust

 

Trust everyone; rely on none.

Reflection:Think about a person in whom you have faith.

Think about a person who has faith in you.

What can you do to increase faith in your life?

 

Meekness 
Acceptance
Detachment
Forgiveness
Humility
Modesty
Respect

 

When we have no selfish desires, every pleasure is a blessing.

The branch with the ripest fruits hangs lowest to the ground.

Reflection:Think about a person who has forgiven you.

Think about a person you forgive.

What can you do to increase forgiveness in your life?

 

Temperance 
Cleanliness
Focus
Moderation
Orderliness
Prudence
Simplicity

 

Reflection:Think about a person who simplifies life for you.

Think about a person whose life you simplify.

What can you do (or stop doing) to increase simplicity in your life?

 

Through developing virtues, the fruit of the spirit, we increase happiness.

Who we are is reflected in what we do.  The choice to be virtuous is the choice to reflect divine attributes instead of material attributes.  Having knowledge and volition, one can then take action. 

 

Spiritual actions provide benefits to both the one who acts and to humanity as a whole.  Spiritual actions increase health and happiness.  Spiritual actions are inspired by love for the Creator and creation.  Spiritual actions can become spiritual habits. 

The outcome of a spiritual action is not within our control.  The point of the action is not the outcome, but the action itself.  The outcome is secondary in importance to the act itself.

Reflection:Next to each “fruit of the Spirit” below, mark “always,” “usually,” “often,” or “rarely,” to indicate how frequently you demonstrate that virtue to others.  Revisit this reflection occasionally to measure your progress.
  always usually often rarely
Love        
Joy        
Peace        
Longsuffering        
Gentleness        
Goodness        
Faith        
Meekness        
Temperance        

 

Four Types of Health

Spiritual action is the natural result of spiritual knowledge and will and it leads to spiritual health.

There are many types of action we can take to increase health and happiness.  They are presented below in four categories: social health, financial health, physical health, and mental health.  Each category supports the others as well as our overall spiritual growth and happiness.

Financial Health

Physical Health

Mental Health

Social Health

Spiritual Health and Happiness

 

Social Health 

 

Humans crave social interaction.  A lack of healthy interaction can lead to depression, anxiety, and materialism.  Healthy interaction allows us to exercise virtue and to increase happiness.

 

Our material nature is to focus on our own survival, yet our spiritual nature understands our oneness with all of creation.  Like a drop in the ocean, we are unique, yet intrinsically connected to everyone else; we are individual, yet we are part of the whole. 

The collective consciousness is so powerful that knowledge can sometimes be transmitted without physical communication.

 

As our awareness advances from the ego toward the collective consciousness, we progress from concern for ourselves to concern for all of existence.  Lawrence Kohlberg wrote about six stages of moral development, which demonstrate an expanding consciousness through the progression of the stages.

A further stage of moral development would be to do what is right because one has no desire to do what is wrong.  This is living in harmony with the universe and turning to its Creator.

Social harmony begins with the smallest social unit, the family.

Achieving peace in the family requires detachment, forgiveness, and love.  We can be connected to our families biologically or by law, through choice or through circumstance.  Regardless, having the support of one’s family and being able to support family members provide the first level of social maturity. 

This is why it is critical for children to experience a healthy family life.  Without this experience, they will have difficulty fitting in to larger social structures.  The spiritual progress of society depends on the happiness of its children.  The education of children is of paramount importance, for social progress depends on the choices they make and the habits they form.

Beyond the family is the community.  Communities can be defined by geography, interest, employer, or other factors that group us together.  Within our communities we have neighbors, friends, and coworkers.  Community involvement expands our social interaction to others outside our home.  We develop friendships and our support structure broadens.

Share your views and ideas with others, but be detached from them. 

Beyond the community is the nation and beyond that, the global village.

 

Spiritual development expands our consciousness from individual survival to global progress.  As we advance up the stages of moral development, we serve a wider community.  The love we receive increases, as does the love we return.

The prerequisite to harmony with any one or any group is to focus on their spiritual development.  By assisting others on their spiritual path, happiness and harmony are increased.  The purpose of social skills is to help society and its members.

 

Helping one attain virtues promotes their spiritual growth.  Material assistance is not always beneficial and can even be harmful in some cases.  The best way to fulfill someone’s material needs is to lovingly teach them to be self-sufficient.

 

If we harbor resentment for someone, we will be incapable of truly helping them or receiving their help.  Forgiveness has a powerful effect both on our own well-being and on our relationship with others.

 

Through forgiving, loving, and serving, we optimize our social health.  The more lives we touch through service, the more our consciousness expands and the higher our stage of moral development.

Reflection:I will take the following steps to enhance my interactions with others…

 

Financial Health 

 

Early humans had no need for money.  Each family tracked its own food, found its own shelter, and entertained itself.  As resources became less abundant and populations increased, humans started specializing in various occupations and trading resources.  Currency was developed to simplify the exchange process.  Physical currency that once represented gold stored in a vault has since been replaced by electronic currency stored on bank computing systems.

Our ideas, efforts, and belongings can all generate money for us.  Money can be viewed as stored energy because it can be used to obtain goods and services from others instead of generating them ourselves.  Money saves us time, gives us power, and increases our standard of living.  At the same time, money can be difficult to obtain, addictive to some, and squandered by others.

Financial health comes from having balance in one’s occupation.  Working too hard leaves one with little time or energy for anything else.  Working too little can cause boredom and sloth.  Financial health results from having an occupation that one enjoys and can sustain.  Work that is done without joy causes undue stress and can lead to periods of poor health, unemployment, and family disunity. 

One’s income should be sufficient to meet their obligations, allow for charitable giving, and save for future needs.  It is not money that provides happiness, but the independence from and wise use of money.  Money is a tool best wielded by the frugal and the philanthropist.

Financial health requires living within one’s means.  In a materialistic society, however, there is a tendency to increase expenses as one’s income grows.  To help resist this temptation, we can separate necessities from desires.  How much money do we really need to survive and meet our obligations?  If we had to get by with half of our current income, what could we cut out of our spending?  Organizations go through this process frequently and often find that there are many opportunities to reduce expenses.

Are you concerned more with the Dow or the Tao?

The compliment to decreasing expenses is increasing income.  Income can take several forms and is the result of whatever work we do.  When choosing a job, we choose an income as well as a lifestyle, a career path, a workplace, and a way to serve others.  The choice is an important one and could have a major impact on one’s life for a year, a decade, or possibly an entire career.  Work should be chosen that is enriching, educational, and enjoyable.

 

The business world moves at lightning speeds.  Specialties and industries can arise or disappear overnight.  Work should be chosen that prepares one for future opportunities.  Each person should strive to continuously improve their qualifications.  Be as selective of employers as they are of you.

 

Like one’s relative value within the labor pool, the value of money also correlates to supply and demand.  There are times to spend and times to save, times to invest and times to withdraw.  These decisions should be made by remembering that money itself is secondary in importance. 

Once one is detached from money and seeks to use it wisely, then proper timing should be considered.  When one seeks to balance their occupation with other aspects of their life, again, timing should be considered.  Is now the right time to invest?  To save?  To work?  To relax?

Financial independence does not mean owning real estate, companies, cars, or precious gems.  All of these can be lost or lose value.  Financial independence is being able to survive even without one’s current income.  Having the skills and resources to generate income or necessities like food, water, and shelter is true financial independence. 

Robinson Crusoe was financially independent.  If the electric grid goes down for a week and your family has enough to eat until power is restored, this is true financial independence.

Money does not equal success, neither for individuals nor for organizations.  Financial health is only one component of success.  Financial transactions should be designed to benefit all parties and promote the interests of society in general.

Business opportunities bring both risks and rewards to the various stakeholders of an organization.  Business decisions should be sound, both financially and socially.  After all, businesses owe their existence to society, so they should support the interests of society.

The relationship between business and society is akin to that between the worker and their community.  When a worker gives back to their community or a company gives back to society, a bond is strengthened.  Giving to the community both promotes and is a sign of financial health.  The purpose of wealth is to help the poor.

 

 

When businesses develop their workers, the benefits are felt by the workers, the businesses, consumers, and the communities.  Likewise, when one individual helps another to develop, everyone benefits. 

The following excerpts provide a glimpse of how individuals and businesses can benefit society and contribute to our collective financial health, in this case, through efficient agricultural practices.

By reducing pollution and waste, and by promoting sustainable business, we increase our collective financial health.  The world’s economies and ecosystems are so interdependent that we can no longer afford to allow imbalance in trade or in the environment.  Empires crumble when they ignore warning signs and fail to maintain balance.

Letter from Atlantis

…Upon our arrival this morning, the harbor of Atlantis bustled with sailors speaking every known tongue.  I made way toward the center isle to witness the lush Atlantean plain, the aqueducts of fresh spring water, and the flora and fauna of this greatest of lands.  Awestruck by the cheery disposition of both commoner and the privileged, I thought ‘Surely they know how to appease their gods.’

Approaching the silver Temple of Poseidon, I marveled at the craftsmanship and glorious design.  As I gazed upon the statues of the great Atlantean kings, the blue sky suddenly went silent and still; not a bird was in flight.  A strange rumbling sound came over the island and movement of the earth was felt by all.  The Atlanteans continued along undaunted.  Surely they know how to appease their gods… 

Through our occupations, we can promote ethics and social responsibility, we can serve others, and we can develop our abilities.  By becoming independent from money and increasing our individual value to the community, we optimize our financial health and happiness.

Reflection:I will take the following steps to enrich others…

 

Physical Health

 

Physical health allows us to live without the distraction of pain or discomfort.  It provides us with energy and strength.  It is said that the body is the temple of the soul.  Physical health promotes spiritual health and happiness. 

 

How we nourish our bodies has a significant impact on our health.  Overeating should be avoided.  Simple organic foods are typically more nutritious and less toxic than processed mass-produced foods.  In some cases they are even less costly.

The following excerpts suggest that a diet rich in organic vegetable would be preferable to one dominated by meat and processed foods.

An active lifestyle is another vital component of physical health.  Exercise can reduce stress, increase energy, and prevent disease.  Incorporating walking or other moderate exercise into one’s routine can be enjoyable and refreshing. 

 

A third contributor to physical health and happiness is rest.  Sleep should be sufficient in quantity and quality to keep the immune system strong, the nervous system calm, and the mental faculties sharp.

Meditation can replenish both the body and the mind.  There are many forms of meditation, each with its own benefits.  The right form is the one you find effective, whether it involve a lotus position or an armchair, a mantra or silence, a mandala or closed eyes.  Meditation can calm the mind or activate the mind.  It can be practiced for a second or for hours.  Meditation can also be a state of mind. 

 

An additional requirement of physical health and happiness is cleanliness.  Keeping one’s body and environment clean promotes vitality and decreases toxins.  Outward cleanliness is pleasing to the mind and to those with whom we interact.

Despite our best efforts to remain healthy, illness will come upon us at times.  Medicine, nutrition, rest, exercise, breathing techniques, joy, and prayer can all be beneficial in overcoming illness. 

 

Illness can be treated effectively with medicines, but both misuse and overuse can be very harmful.

Substances such as tobacco, narcotics, and alcohol are addictive and harm the body, the mind, and society.  They decrease physical, mental, social, and financial health. 

 

The healthier we are, the more we can care for others.  The purpose of physical health is so that we can nurture others.

Reflection:I will take the following steps to nourish or heal others…

 

Mental Health

 

There are many components to mental health.  These include a healthy brain, a moderate stress level, and social interaction.  Joy and learning promote brain health.  Increasing mental health increases happiness and happiness increases mental health.

 

Howard Gardner (of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Project Zero) proposes that there are multiple types of intelligence.  His Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) lists the following seven types of intelligence that he has identified so far.

Someone may be strong in one type of intelligence and weak in another.  This can be a benefit and it can also be a hindrance.  We can each develop our intellectual abilities, although our capacities may differ.  Society benefits from having specialists who excel with certain types of intelligence and generalists who have a more balanced intellectual capacity.

 

Knowledge comes from education and study; wisdom comes from experience.  Both are required for effective decision making. 

The neocortex is still in development during the teenage years.  For this reason, youth need guidance in making important decisions.  While teenagers may appear to be adults in body and mind, this critical portion of the brain has not quite finished its development at this stage. 

Even adults can use assistance in making important decisions.  We all make mistakes in our judgment at times.  Helping one another make wise decisions is one way we can increase health and happiness.

Society benefits when its citizens are educated because education creates meaning for children and prepares them for self-sufficiency in adulthood.  Effective education includes life skills, job skills, academic training, and creative thinking.  Moral education is also vital and is often left to the parents to provide.

What’s ingenious to the common man is common place to the genius.

A positive outlook is both the product of and the promoter of a sharp mind.  Opportunity is the flip-side of crisis.  When you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities, realize that each “responsibility” is really an opportunity.  Most opportunities are secondary in nature.  Determine which are primary (most conducive to spiritual health and happiness) and pursue those opportunities.

 

This is not to say that problems should be ignored.  Problems should be recognized, but viewed as opportunities, not challenges. 

When we have been hurt mentally or emotionally, healing is needed to restore happiness. 

 

Forgiveness is very powerful in resolving anger and healing emotional wounds.

Learning is also important to keep the brain healthy.  Consider learning as a lifelong process.

It is said that we learn the most when we teach.  Teaching benefits both parties.  It can occur through both words and deeds.  It can be paid or unpaid and structured or spontaneous.  The purpose of knowledge is to teach.

 

Reflection:I will take the following steps to teach or comfort others…

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing Health and Happiness

Each type of health (social, financial, physical, and mental) promotes happiness.  By becoming healthier in each of these four areas, we increase our vitality and can sharpen our spiritual powers.  Our decisions can be based more on wisdom and less on selfish instinct.

Enhancing all four types of health simultaneously is possible because they are mutually enforcing.  Increasing social health can increase financial health, just as increasing physical health can increase mental health.  However, priority should be given to areas of lower health, in order to create balance.  Once balance exists, all four types of health can be given equal attention.

The underlying objective is to continually become less controlled by our material nature and to develop spiritual habits so that we can increase happiness for others.  Our own happiness occurs as a natural result of this process.  The more happiness we give, the more we receive.

The process of letting go of the ego and developing moral maturity is not easy.  The benefits are not always immediate.  Opportunities to choose between our higher nature and our lower nature present themselves constantly throughout each day.  We should not dwell on poor decisions we have made in the past, but resolve to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others in order to continually improve.

For every limitation, there are infinite opportunities.

We have searched our source for some definitive and better understood health and happiness as well as our unique dual nature.  May you excel in every virtue, through knowledge, volition, and action.  May the following quotes, as well as the preceding pages, bring you joy.  May you hear the quiet call of lightness and may your happiness ever increase.

 

Reflection:I will ask the following persons if they are happy and getting happier…

 

 

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