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

48 comments

Ellen J
Ellen J16 hours ago

Thanks for this. I appreciate it.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga4 days ago

thx

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Megan S
Megan S5 days ago

also one of the most important ways to stay happy is to ensure that you don't get isolated

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Megan S
Megan S5 days ago

number three is a key one for me; its important to take other people's opinions into consideration - at least the ones with good intent behind them. But be sure that you don't let them control you life, you have to know your own mind too.

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. Dutka9 days ago

To me number 2 is the most important - except when it comes to tRUMP!!!!

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Andrea B
Andrea B10 days ago

Sure

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

These are very hard principles to put into practice.

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Lisa M
Lisa M13 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M13 days ago

Thanks.

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Winn A
Winn A13 days ago

Thanks

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