When you think about your life and the choices you make, and you really deeply examine them, you’ll probably agree that most of what we do is seek happiness. We all want to live a happier, more fulfilled life and feel like we’ve accomplished something of value to both us and the world.
Several years ago when I was in Japan, my mentor (Ajari Jomyo Tanaka pictured below) presented me with his 5 secrets to happiness. He was preparing them as a speech he was going to give that weekend to a large crowd and I was fortunate to receive his teaching over tea while he was preparing. In preparation for the new year, I’m honored to share these five secrets with you. And, I guarantee that if and as you follow them faithfully, you will find your life bringing you not only a permanent and unwavering happiness, but also incredible abundance.
These 5 keys are profound in their simplicity and incredibly effective in their truth. The first three deal with the physical and the last two address the spiritual.
Good Food: (Shokuyo) Our bodies are our vehicle in the human realm. They encapsulate all that it means to be human and provide us the capacity and capability to live. Consequently, how we nourish and treat them is directly related to how we feel. By making healthy choices about what we consume, we are making more enlightened choices about how we choose to live. In addition to consuming healthy foods, regular exercise is also extremely important. There is a lot of conflicting information about what makes a healthy diet. For more information on my perspective, please check out my article on more empowered eating.
Respect: (Koyo) In Japan, respect permeates every aspect of the culture. American society, in contrast, is characterized by a sense of entitlement. We want everyone to respect and acknowledge us. Sensei’s teaching on Koyo underpins one of the most important keys to materializing abundance: Gratitude. Respect for parents and elders and an attitude of gratitude for all that you already have will increase your emotional vibration. By emotional vibration, I mean such lower emotions as jealousy and greed will be replaced by better feeling, peace, harmony, love, and appreciation. Since like attracts like, such emotions will attract more abundance into your life. So, give it a try – offer respect and gratitude and see what happens.
Knowledge: (Kyoyo) Just as the physical body needs nourishment and exercise, so does the mind. Regular reading and cultural activities will broaden your horizons and open the mind. Have you ever met an uptight person who is narrow minded? How did you feel around such a person? Did they strike you as being truly happy? Keeping an open and fresh outlook is another super important key to maintaining positive emotions. So, get on a regular schedule – read something mind expanding…go to a play…try a different ethnic cuisine.
Spiritual Practice: (Shuyo) I recommend to all of my coaching clients and readers that you get on a regular schedule that allows you a daily period of “you” time…time to connect with the core of who you are. This could be a daily period of meditation, tai chi, yoga, or a walk in the park. The most important element is that everyday you take some time out for yourself and connect to and with yourself in the here and now…in this moment. I won’t write much about this as it’s experiential. Try it and see the results. To get started, read my article on daily meditation.
Offering: (Kuyo) This one is going to be heavily loaded. In addition to taking care of yourself, it is very important to maintain a connection with something higher. We are spiritual beings living a human existence and having a connection to the divine keeps us on our path and in touch with what’s really important. It also provides a source of life energy (chi) that is far more powerful than what is available to us when we draw from only ourselves. Find time everyday to offer to the divine, whatever that is for you. This could be a period of daily prayer and thanksgiving or actual food offerings as is common in the eastern traditions. There are several realms beyond the physical everyday reality that we see, hear, feel, choose to acknowledge. And, we all have our own unique spirit guides. It’s not important which tradition most calls to you or whether you choose a personal religious path, but it is critical that you do have a connection to forces higher than yourself. This is so important because it allows you, on a daily basis, to step outside the pressures and stresses of worldly life and tap into higher potentials that will enable you to fully actualize yourself. Helping people find their personal path is one of the aspects of my spiritual coaching work.
I realize this advice may seem either too simple or too “out there.” I am one of the most grounded, least airy-fairy individuals that I know and I can attest to the value of these ancient secrets. I invite you suspend judgement and give this formula a try for one month.
May your life be filled with endless abundance and boundless happiness,