Academically speaking, happiness is really a meaningless term because you can't really measure happiness. However, you can measure life satisfaction. You can ask people on a scale of one to ten, thinking of their life as a whole, how would they place their happiness. If you get enough people you can start to aggregate out subjectivity and approach objectivity. People only remember about two percent of their life, so asking them to think of their life of a whole is not much data. But people can pretty much remember the last 24 hours. So, if you ask them to recall the last 24 hours how much they smiled, laughed, felt stress, etc., you can get a pretty good idea of their daily emotions or their experienced happiness.
And then there's a question about purpose: "Do you use your strength to do what you do best every day?" And then if you ask a number of other questions about demographics, about age, gender, ethnicity, what your values are, what you do with your day, and you use this clever little statistical trick called a regression analysis, you can start to find out what correlates with happiness.
For the purposes of the book, Blue Zones of Happiness, in a National Geographic article Dan Buettner asked these huge databases to tell him where in the world life satisfaction is highest, daily emotions are highest, and purpose is highest. So, you can learn some things from data, but often to really understand it you have to go there.
It turns out the area with the highest life's of satisfaction is Asia. The happiest place, very counter-intuitively, is the island nation of Singapore. 27 miles long, 247 shopping malls, but it has one of the highest GDPs in the world. GDP is important for us at a certain point and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. In the 1960s it was basically a fishing village.
But what you have here are five million people very ethnically diverse, Indians, Malay and Han Chinese that live in near perfect harmony. And the reason they do is because it was very planned. Lee Kuan Yew the Prime Minister there made sure that almost everybody in the entire country owns their own house. And in these high-rise housing communities, every building reflects the ethnic diversity of the entire country. So, you have no ghettos for the Malay, or no ghettos for the Indian, or gated communities for the Chinese. The kids go to school together, it's very safe and secure. Very tough laws there. If you're a man and you commit a violent crime, there's a chance that you'll be beaten, they it call caning. If you're caught with more than a half an ounce of opioids you get the death penalty.
The other side of that coin is they don't have an opioid crisis there so nobody is dying of overdoses or the crimes that come out of it, and your children or a woman can walk any place in Singapore day or night and not have to worry about being accosted.
And actually you know there's sort of an inverse relationship between freedom and security. Actually, security is more highly correlated with life satisfaction than freedom is.
Daily meditation is a life changer. Meditation radically improves our well being, psychologically and physically.
It starts with relaxing. Put on some calming, instrumental music. Find a comfortable position to sit in, somewhere quiet. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Gently exhale, count down from 20 and let yourself sink into a relaxed state of mind. To go deeper into this state, start with a gentle relaxation of your physical body. Feel your scalp relax. Feel that feeling of relaxation flow all the way down to your toes. Move your focus down your body, part by part, and relax each section completely as you go.
Phase 1: compassion
Focus on your consciousness. Picture it as a white light surrounding your entire body in a bubble of peaceful, gentle, loving energy. Imagine this light expanding to connect you, and spread compassion, to your room, house, entire neighborhood, city, country, continent, and planet. Feel that sense of oneness.
See yourself for what you are, a piece of consciousness directly connected to every other life form on planet earth.
Phase 2: Gratitude
Bring to mind 5-10 things that you are truly grateful for - big or small. Express gratitude for these things. Vividly recall how they made you feel - use all 5 senses: smell, touch, taste, sound, vision. Feel this gratitude vibrate all throughout your body.
Know that when you express gratitude for beautiful moments in life, you open the way for these moments to repeat themselves and grow in terms of their magnitude.
Phase 3: Forgiveness
Bring to mind anyone who you have had a conflict with - it could be a person or a situation. Imagine that person in front of you. Apologize for any wrong that you brought them. Ask for their forgiveness. Forgive them for any wrong that they brought to you. Feel that feeling of forgiveness all throughout your body.
Know that at a deeper level we are one, and any negative charge toward any other living being is a charge against yourself.
Phase 4: Visualize your future
Visualize all the different aspects of your life as you want them to unfold in the next 3 years. Be as vivid as possible by incorporating all 5 senses: smell, touch, taste, sound, vision.
As you wrap us, mentally tell yourself, "Let this or something better unfold in my life."
Phase 5: The Perfect Day
Visualize yourself from the current moment, living the best version of this particular day. Make it as vivid as possible. Bring in emotions of joy, excitement, and gratitude. Bring yourself to the end of your day, and see yourself going to bed and going into a deep, comfortable, rejuvenating sleep.
Visualize yourself making today amazingly wonderful.
Phase 6: Blessing
Call on any higher power you believe in (this could be your own inner strength). Ask for luck, energy, support. Ask for help crafting your perfect day so that you can make your dreams for the next 3 years unfold. Feel this support and energy all around you, a protective energy embracing you.
Know that luck is on your side and the universe has your back.
Bring yourself slowly out of your meditation by counting upwards from 1 to 5.
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