In his latest book, The Future of God, Deepak Chopra asks, Can God be revived in a skeptical age? What would it take to give people a spiritual life more powerful than anything in the past? He tackles these issues with eloquence and insight and proposes that God lies at the source of human awareness. Therefore, any person can find the God within that transforms everyday life.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re thrilled to share a series of spiritual practices from The Future of God. We’ll feature one exercise a week from November 11, 2014 to December 23, 2014. Be sure to come back every Tuesday for the next exercise!]
From The Future of God by Deepak Chopra
Below are seven strategies for processing the subtle world. Each one focuses on a different exercise to make you feel comfortable with your inner world. Be easy with each exercise, repeat them over a period of time, and you will witness a genuine and lasting change in your consciousness.
Day 1: Be Generous of Spirit
Day 2: Be Loving and Lovable
Day 3: Let Go
Day 4: Find Your Fulfillment
Day 5: Enable Your Healing
Day 6: Raise Your Expectations (below)
Day 7: Let It Be (available on December 23, 2014)
Day 6: RAISE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Old pathway: Limited Expectations
New pathway: Unlimited Potential
Exercise: Today you need to be fulfilled, not by waiting for a magical day in the future but by changing the pathways of fulfillment. Fulfillment is multidimensional. It feels satisfying physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The ingredients are, first, a general sense of relaxation and contentment in the body, along with the absence of tension and discomfort. Second, at the emotional level, you feel a sense of personal satisfaction; you are living your life well. With this comes an absence of threat, isolation, loneliness, and emotional baggage. Finally, on the spiritual level, you feel at peace and centered, connected with your highest self. This comes with an absence of doubt, of fear and death, and of abandonment by God.
Although only a sketch, this picture of your multidimensionality shows you where to look for fulfillment. Any of these dimensions will do, and if you truly pursue physical, mental, and spiritual satisfaction, they will merge. All the pathways will be open to the many avenues that fulfillment comes from. There is to set recipe. It’s true that giving brings fulfillment to many people, and others experience satisfaction only when being of service. These are general conclusions only. Because you are multidimensional, any map you draw leads to where you want to go.
The chief obstacle is limited expectations. Whether they admit it or not, most people are unfulfilled because they set their sights too low. They have in fact achieved what they imagined would make them happy. For decades psychologists looked at what makes people miserable and psychologically impaired. In the new field of positive psychology, researches instead look at what makes people happy, but their findings are full of contradictions.
Everyone tries to be happy; everyone pursues the thing they think will make them happy. But it turns out that human beings are bad predictors. When we get the thing that should make us happy, it doesn’t. New mothers, for example, often feel frustrated and depressed by taking care of their babies; some mothers rank caring for small children as a source of unhappiness, along with doing household chores. Having money makes people happy only up to a certain point. They reach a nice level of comfort, but then extra money increases their unhappiness by adding responsibility and worry. And once you have enough money, you receive diminishing returns from getting more. The second Porsche doesn’t carry the thrill of the first. the tenth time you stay at the Ritz, the glamour has mostly rubbed off.
Wealth aside, the essential reality is that achieving fulfillment requires having higher expectations. As you go through your day, experiencing all kinds of things, pause and ask yourself, “Honestly, what is this doing for me?” The answer won’t be cut and dried. Some things will be more fulfilling than you might suppose; others will fall flat. Then ask yourself: “What would be more fulfilling instead?” In other words, embark on a journey of discovery. You will quickly find that discovery isn’t a piece of cake; obstacles and limitations will lie in your way.
Be aware of the following kinds of limitations: Thinking that you don’t deserve better. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of failure. Fear of sticking out too much from the crowd. Anxiety over leaving your old ways behind. For many people, happiness equates with settling. They choose good enough because it’s safe. But good enough means that your dreams will be so limited that fulfilling them will bring only small satisfactions. Take a second look at the people you associate with. Their expectations are likely to be your own, because in all likelihood you want to fit in with your own crowd. You aren’t asked to disapprove of your friends or yourself – quite the opposite.
Choose the person you most admire among your circle, or the one whose dreams secretly match yours. Here is a living example of how to expand your expectations. You can get closer to this person, ask for advice, and share your heart’s desires. Yes, this means taking a risk. Exposing who you want to be isn’t necessarily safe. But finding out who you want to be is crucial, because it will keep your eye on the prize. You will accept constant growth, an unending journey, expanding horizons. Achieving fulfillment isn’t like building a brick wall brick by brick until you stand back to admire the finished product. It’s like stepping into a river in which you can’t step into the same place twice.
The one image is static; the other, dynamic. The one is fixed securely in place; the other leads who knows where. You have neural pathways to deal with both extremes. Stability is important, but so is dynamism. Most people are so imprinted to be secure that they don’t have much place on the dynamic side. Their landscape features more walls than rivers. As you go through your day, try to be aware of how your personal landscape looks. That’s the first step in getting around the walls. Some will need tearing down; others will need climbing over or sneaking around while not knocking them down. It feels good to live with as few walls as possible if they are the kind that shut out new possibilities. See if you can take one deep break of real satisfaction today. In that likes the path to lasting fulfillment.
Excerpted from The Future of God by Deepak Chopra. Copyright © 2014 by Deepak Chopra. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.