Home' Nova National : August 2010 Contents "Happiness is the goal of all
other goals," Dr Deepak
Chopra tells his audience
with subtle emphasis. As
those six words sink in, I notice people in
the Darling Harbour auditorium smiling,
some rather wryly; a few heads nod in
agreement. Have we all not, at some point
in our lives, searched desperately for
happiness or tried to win, woo or even buy
it? Children seem to intuitively know the
secret of happiness, but somewhere along
the road to adulthood it slips elusively
away, only to return in fleeting moments.
We're more familiar with what makes
us unhappy: debt, sickness, loss, past
regrets, uncertainty about the future. Then
there are what Dr Chopra calls existential
dilemmas such as the fear of old age and,
Dr Chopra is in Sydney presenting
a seminar entitled "Reinventing the
body; resurrecting the soul". Wearing a
conservative black suit, he is humble and
humorous at the same time. When he
speaks it is with clarity and a crisp sense
of authority. By lunchtime, almost all his
many books and CDs on sale have been
eagerly snapped up. Clearly, there is a deep
thirst for his message.
He has been called a poet and a
visionary, but Dr Chopra is also a scientist,
a physician and an undisputed spiritualist.
Perhaps it takes someone with precisely
those qualities, medical training and
insight to present a radically different way
of looking at our bodies, and indeed our
Some years ago, scientists attached
to the US School of Positive Psychology
presented a happiness formula. The
formula stated that happiness depends
on three elements: a set point in the
brain that's determined in childhood
depending on whether those who
surrounded you were naturally optimistic
or more inclined to pessimism; living
conditions; and thirdly, the voluntary
choices and actions made every day.
According to this theory, 50 percent
of happiness, Dr Chopra explains, is
determined by the set point in the brain.
Lottery winners initially enjoy the euphoria
of their winnings, but then return to their
set point within a year or two. The words
"set point" sound scarily final; however, to
my relief, Dr Chopra indicates that it can
be changed through meditation, for
instance, or certain types of therapy.
Living conditions account for only 10
percent of happiness. Is this why the feel-
good factor of retail therapy is so short
lived and has to be reinforced so often?
We all know that doing what we
truly enjoy and making other people
© NOVA AUGUST 2010
Is the next great breakthrough yet another
hi-tech gizmo? Or is it how we view the human
body? Nicola Silva takes on board the latest
revolutionary idea from Deepak Chopra.
happy, whether by kind words or helping
someone out in a time of need, brings us
joy, too. This accounts for the remaining
40 percent in the formula: voluntarily
choosing things that bring us fulfilment
and pleasure. This is also where intention
comes into play.
The curious thing about happiness
is that happy people have different brain
"A heart that is in love is very different
to a heart that is hostile, structurally,"
Dr Chopra points out. He adds that the
number one risk factor for sudden death
A happy person makes their friends
-- and even the friends of their friends --
happy. And here's the clincher, the
happiness of the people can affect a
country's GDP. I wonder if this is one
reason why Australia seems to have
weathered the so-called global financial
crisis so well. Perhaps we are the happy
country as well as the lucky country!
So what does happiness have to do
with reinventing the body? Everything,
"You are intended to experience
ecstasy just as much as any saint and when
you do, your cells join in," Dr Chopra
writes in his new book Reinventing the
body; resurrecting the soul.
This is a truly different -- and rather
exciting -- way to perceive the body.
For years, we have been encouraged to
view the human body as a machine, albeit a
magnificent one. As years go by, individual
parts start wearing out, we sicken and
weaken and our time on this good earth,
generally speaking, depends on how well
we look after ourselves. All in all, this is a
fairly bleak outlook after the wondrous
days of youth have passed. Religions that
teach us to look to the afterlife for reward
tend to reinforce the idea of the body's
Dr Chopra points out that our physical
evolution ended around 200,000 years ago.
In many parts of the world, particularly
the wealthy West, medical discovery has
contributed to better health and longevity,
but this is merely tinkering at the edges
when compared to what is possible.
Is now the time to radically reinvent
the body? Is the human body truly ready for
the next breakthrough?
Dr Chopra certainly thinks so and
explores this idea in greater detail in his
latest, quite challenging, work. "Once you
stop clinging to the idea that your body
is a thing, you realise what should have
been obvious: your body is the junction
between the invisible and visible worlds."
This outlook distils the human body,
and indeed the entire universe, to the level
of pure energy. In his wonderfully poetic
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