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

64 comments

Fiona O
Fiona O3 days ago

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

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Kristen D
Kristen Dutton13 days ago

Five years ago, I went numb from the waist down. After quite a few MRI’s, spinal tap, I was diagonsed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was on Avenox for almost 2 years, i had 1 year of monthly steroids IV, had to stop due to hip pain. Through my physiotherapist i learnt about a MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS HERBAL TREATMENT from R.H.F. (RichHerbs Herbal Foundation) and their success rate with the treatment, i immediately started on the MS treatment, i experienced decline in major symptoms including hand tremor, back pain, difficulty walking, muscle paralysis and weakness, uncomfortable tingling and burning, fatigue, urinary retention,double vision, slurred speech difficulty swallowing, numbness. Visit ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om. I knew that a positive attitude is everything and to just believe, I’m in control of my life again….

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Kristen D
Kristen Dutton13 days ago

Five years ago, I went numb from the waist down. After quite a few MRI’s, spinal tap, I was diagonsed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was on Avenox for almost 2 years, i had 1 year of monthly steroids IV, had to stop due to hip pain. Through my physiotherapist i learnt about a MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS HERBAL TREATMENT from R.H.F. (RichHerbs Herbal Foundation) and their success rate with the treatment, i immediately started on the MS treatment, i experienced decline in major symptoms including hand tremor, back pain, difficulty walking, muscle paralysis and weakness, uncomfortable tingling and burning, fatigue, urinary retention,double vision, slurred speech difficulty swallowing, numbness. Visit ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om. I knew that a positive attitude is everything and to just believe, I’m in control of my life again….

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Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman13 days ago

GREAT ARTICLE. WE ALL CAN APPRECIATE SUCH IDEAS ESPECIALLY IN THIS CURRENT LIVING ENVIRONMENT.

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JoAnn P
JoAnn Parisabout a month ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Good words to live by!

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Cindy S
Cindy Sabout a month ago

I wish

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Ellen J
Ellen Jabout a month ago

Just reread this and I feel a sense of calm coming over me. I think I'll post this at work. Thanks.

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Carole R
Carole R1 months ago

Thank you.

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Veronica B
Veronica B1 months ago

Good reminders!Thanks

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