- Good sleep
- Stress management
- Emotional balance
- Proper nutrition
Paths to Well-BeingWhile individual well-being can be a complex topic, there are generally two different paths to attaining it—the hedonic and eudaimonic approaches. The hedonic approach is mainly characterized by the ongoing seeking of pleasurable experiences (pursuing happiness) and the avoidance of painful experiences, and can be associated with positive affect and life satisfaction.
The eudaimonic approach seeks personal fulfillment not by pursuing pleasure per se, but by realizing your own essence and potential, and can be characterized by a sense of mastery over your Self and environment, life purpose, and positive relations with others. Developing either or both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being are linked to better health.
Regardless of how you pursue well-being, it’s important to note that you, as a person, are at the center of the process. The foundation of true well-being is to properly attend to who is seeking well-being rather than only on the experiences sought to attain it. Experience itself is characterized by a continually changing landscape of what are considered pleasurable and painful experiences. In each case, you are the same, but the perception of the experience is different, and this yields a waxing and waning of well-being accordingly to the (perceived) nature of the experience itself.
When you think about cultivating well-being, you typically think about what action steps you need to take to manifest it. Instead of thinking about activities you should or shouldn’t do, start an inward journey to discover your true Self.
The Inward JourneyNumerous philosophies provide the understanding that Awareness is universal, that Consciousness is a singular manifestation of that Awareness, and that the entire world of perception—of nature—is unitary Consciousness. Satchitananda (Sat-Chit-Ananda) is a description of the experience of Awareness, revealing the characteristics of existence, consciousness, and bliss. Revealed too is the realization that this Awareness is your Awareness, your very own Self.
Cultivating awareness of the Self draws your ongoing sense of identification away from the innumerable changing features of experience to who is having the experience. As perception yields to Awareness, those characteristics of existence, consciousness, and bliss are gradually freed from perception and revealed. (This process is sometimes described as stepping out of the egoic or conditioned self and into the Universal Self). Thus, the movement towards getting to know the essential nature of your Self as that Awareness is a vital foundation of well-being.
In western academic studies, this aspect of well-being is rarely addressed. Dr. Chopra often speaks of “total well-being,” by which he means extraordinary well-being beyond what you think is typically possible. Developing awareness of the Self helps bring fruition to developing extraordinary well-being.
There are many approaches to cultivating awareness of Self, including mind-body practices such as meditation and yoga. At the Chopra Center, Dr. Chopra often draws attention to questions such as “Who are you?” or “Who is doing the listening?” These sorts of questions prompt you to momentarily step away from your normal participation in entertaining thoughts and perceptions, and instead, draws you to the experience of your non-object Awareness. This approach of self-inquiry has been advocated by many great Vedantic teachers, including Ramana Maharishi and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, among others.
Self-Directed Biological Transformation (SBTI) InitiativeThe Chopra Center recently completed a research study, called the Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI), that examined the health and well-being effects of traditional Ayurvedic practices, which included:
- Group meditation and yoga
- Adaptogenic herbs
- Blood levels of metabolites associated with inflammation
- Cardiovascular disease risk
- Cholesterol regulation
- UC San Diego
- Duke University
- UC San Francisco
- Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
- Harvard University
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Scripps Translational Sciences Institute
UC Wellbeing Channel: In an effort to further support the well-being of the community, the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo launched a new media channel focused on well-being, in a collaboration with the University of California (UC). This new UC Wellbeing Channel has a significant amount of content relevant to supporting well-being. Check it out to support your path to perfect health.
If you're ready to begin, strengthen, or return to your path to well-being, we have the perfect program for you. Join us for Perfect Health, a six-day retreat designed to create balance in the mind and body. Learn More.
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*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.