What's the key to a long and happy life? Wellness guru Deepak Chopra has the answers


A leading figure in integrative medicine, the most influential personalities in the world (royals and celebrities alike) turn to him for mindfulness coaching

Deepak Chopra in an archive photo.
Deepak Chopra in an archive photo.SHUTTERSTOCK

TIME Magazine hailed him as "one of the 100 heroes and icons of our time". While such a title might seem far-fetched, it's no overstatement. Even before the coronavirus pandemic triggered this wellness boom, Deepak Chopra's empire was estimated at $80 million, as he himself confessed in a 2015 interview with ABC News. His extensive network of contacts alone was valued at around $150 million.

A leading figure in integrative medicine and a prominent advocate for mindfulness, Chopra is one of the most influential personalities on this planet. Among his vast global following are notable figures like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Chopra has featured in a number of podcast episodes with the couple over the years and, having sensed that they were "going through a difficult time," advised them to take no notice of the criticism directed at them in the run-up to Charles III's coronation. "My advice is to ignore everything, because reacting will only make the situation worse. If you ignore it, people can't say anything else and will eventually give up," he told The Daily Mail at the time.

A close friend of the legendary presenter Oprah Winfrey, stories abound that Demi Moore turned to Chopra after her highly publicized breakup with Ashton Kutcher to seek relief from her emotional hurt. It's also said that he was one of the people closest to Michael Jackson during his final years and that, as Chopra himself confessed at the time, he refused to provide the singer with medications that he requested as he suspected that he was using "illegal substances".

His influence doesn't understand age, creed or color, and in his endeavor to spread the good news of mindfulness worldwide, he partnered with J Balvin in 2020 to launch Renew Yourself, a free meditation program available in both Spanish and English. This spiritual guru, with his penetrating gaze and youthful appearance, has built a cult-like following. But who exactly is Deepak Chopra, and more importantly, what does he preach that makes people revere him almost as an earthly Messiah?

Collective awakening

Born in New Delhi in 1947 and based in the United States since the early 1970s, the man who preaches a 'collective awakening,' represents the epitome of the coveted American dream, a concept that appears somewhat unfamiliar to many of us.

As a young man, Chopra pursued a path similar to his father, a cardiology specialist, by studying Medicine in the United States. However, after meeting the famous yogi Maharishi Mahesh, founder of the transcendental meditation movement, he left his job as an endocrinologist and internal medicine specialist at a Boston hospital to immerse himself in integrative medicine, which seeks to treat patients holistically, encompassing mind, body and spirit.

Founder of Chopra Global, his teachings are as inspiring as they are complicated to put into practice in a society as frenzied as ours, obsessed with yesterday and anxious about tomorrow. "The past is gone, the future is not here, I am now free from both. At this moment, I choose joy," he asserts.

And how does one do that when emotional distress seems to be the order of the day? "It's true, there's a pandemic of sadness. Or rather, a pandemic of depression. To find the source, we must remember that what we call anger is the memory of drama. What we call hostility is the desire for revenge. What we call anxiety is the description of drama. All our present dramas come from the past. Drama is an inter-generational affair. What we are experiencing right now is nothing but the drama of our ancestors," Chopra adds.

There's no doubt that everything he preaches is inspiring and comforting, but how do all the tools he proposes to find inner serenity fit into the chaos of our everyday lives, with our worries about making ends meet, the back-and-forth with our teenage children, and concerns over our love lives? "The person who asks me that question needs to try and put them into practice more than anyone else. The mere act of asking that question just goes to show how much they are needed. I know a lot of young people who are running companies that are turning over astronomical amounts of money. They tell me how much they earn, the profits they make, the projects they have... Yet they've never stopped to think about death. How do you want to die? Peacefully or embroiled in drama? Whoever says that they don't have five minutes for themselves, needs 10. If they don't have time to meditate once a day, they should do it twice. The more someone says that they don't have time, the more time that they need to find. I'm 76, and in the last four decades, I've never skipped a single one of my daily meditation and yoga sessions. I work, I'm healthy. I feel at peace, and if I can, why can't everyone else? We say that the world is to blame, but the world is a reflection of ourselves. Be the person you want to be. The first step to changing the world is becoming the person we want to be."

We complain about being anxious, yet we don't do anything to get off the 'roller coaster' that we've turned our lives into. "Addiction is about never having enough of something you don't really need. At first, it is very satisfying, but, as time goes by, this satisfaction wears thin, and then we become addicted to the memory of how it made us feel. To make matters worse, social media only reinforces the idea that we always need something new to be happy: if you already have a car, you need a Ferrari; and then a boat or a plane. It never ends. There's a beautiful song by Bob Marley that says: 'Some people are so poor, all they have is money.' It's clear that money is an important component, but it shouldn't be the driving force of life."

The formula for happiness

How, then, can we achieve this much-desired happiness? "According to social scientists, the formula for happiness is based on three things: 50% depends on attitude, whether you view the world each day as a problem or an opportunity; 10% depends on money; and the remaining 40% depends on the decisions you make. Some will be for pleasure (be that alcohol, shopping, sex or drugs), but if you seek genuine happiness, you make others that give your life genuine purpose and the ability to make others happy."

To what extent are we bound by the opinions of others about ourselves? "I believe that each of us should be able to create our own social network because the way things are currently structured only generates anxiety. I'm convinced that social networks must evolve, and they will. Artists, storytellers, poets, educators... Everyone will create a new platform to empower people to enhance their creativity, their capacity to love and to connect with their inner selves. And once people feel empowered, they won't care about who gives them a 'like' or who doesn't."

What do we do when we lose enthusiasm, when we struggle to even get out of bed in the morning? "Everyone should wake up every morning with enthusiasm. Etymologically, the word enthusiasm means to be in contact with God. Just like inspiration, to be in touch with the spirit. I don't like talking about motivation. It's not the right word, because it's something mental. Enthusiasm and inspiration come when you touch the soul."

In the pursuit of the healthy longevity we all desire, Chopra has announced the launch of two major projects by his Foundation together with Sadhana Works in Mallorca. "The Longevity Experience will delve into the science behind epigenetics, and the House of Epigenetics welcomes everyone interested in experiencing it for themselves."

And, as this quest for longevity becomes a reality, Chopra shares his recipe for a long and healthy life: "There is only one key to achieving it: no stress, just go!"

Read the original article in Spanish here.