5 Guiding Principles for Living a Good Life

I recently completed a Happiness Program (Yep, there is such a thing, and it really works!) run by the Art of Living Foundation. Along with honing our breathing skills, we learned a series of guiding principles for living a good life.

Based on the teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, each of the five principles offers a way to find peace and contentment in everyday life.

1. Maintain Equanimity

There are always going to be up and downs in life. When things go our way, we’re happy. But when they don’t, we react negatively. The first guiding principle is to keep a balanced mind in all situations, good and bad.

To maintain equanimity is the number one rule of Stoicism, as well. As the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Sometimes events occur that we have no control over. Rather than wishing things were different, play the equanimity game and see how quickly you can recover your self-control when life doesn’t go your way.

2. Accept People as They Are

We’re all different, and that’s a good thing. Life would be spectacularly boring if we were all the same. (Remember the Stepford Wives?) Each of us has our own temperament, our own set of beliefs and ideologies, etc.

Instead of railing against our perceived differences, let’s just accept people as they are. Like with situations we can’t control, there’s no point wishing they were different. Sometimes you can avoid people you don’t get on with, but if it’s a family member or colleague you’re struggling with, acceptance is key.

3. Don’t Be a Football of Others’ Opinions

Stop worrying about what other people think of you (or what you imagine they think of you). They’re too busy worrying about what others think of them to spend any time thinking about you.

And even if they have formed a negative opinion of you, that’s their problem, not yours. In the wise words of Terry Cole-Whittaker, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

A more empowered approach is to look within to find what works for you and what doesn’t. You know yourself best, so trust your intuition to guide you in the right direction.

4. Don’t See Intention Behind Others’ Mistakes

To err is human, yet so often we fail to remember this when the person at fault is someone other than ourselves. Whether it’s treating a colleague poorly because we were ‘hangry’ or running a red light and causing a collision, we all make mistakes.

As Sri Sri says, “It’s important to remember that inside every culprit is a victim crying for help.” Let’s recognize each other’s mistakes for what they are: mistakes. When we do that there’s no need for forgiveness.

5. Live in the Present Moment

The present moment is all there is. In his book The Light in the Heart, Roy T. Bennett reminds us that no amount of regretting can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future.

Of course, living in the present moment is often easier said than done. But that’s not to say it’s impossible, either. With a constant practice of breathing and meditation, it eventually becomes second nature.

“When we follow these basic principles, three things happen: purity of heart, clarity of mind, and sincerity in action. That’s all.” —Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Lorrie O
Lorrie Oabout a month ago


Olivia M
Past Member 1 months ago

thank you

Sophie A
Sophie A1 months ago

thanks for posting

Kimberly Thibaut
Kimberly Thibaut2 months ago

I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. I had been a heavy smoker, my symptoms started out with dry cough and shortness of breath, i ended up in the hospital, on a ventilator. I should have known it was coming, but like most smokers, thought it would never happen to me. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from Organic Herbal Clinic, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment. Visit Organic Herbal Clinic website w ww .organicherbalclinic. c om. This COPD treatment is a miracle!!

Thomas M
Thomas M2 months ago

thanks for posting

Caitlin L
Caitlin L3 months ago

thank you for this

Colin C
Colin C4 months ago

If I live in the present moment how can I keep worrying about the future.

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago


Past Member
Past Member 7 months ago

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Fiona O
Fiona Ogilvie8 months ago

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this beautiful article. I tweeted it to my twitter followers.