We’re all familiar with the practice of seeking happiness through acquisition of material possessions or through attainment of success in the “outer” world.

The irony of this pursuit is that all too often, these things become obstacles to happiness. Our true self, our most natural state of being, is ever-joyful. This truth we can discover through the practice of meditation and a simple, soulful way of life.

Three key practices can guide the way…
True inner joy is self-created. It does not depend on outer circumstances.
A river is flowing in and through you carrying the message of joy.
—Sri Chinmoy

Key #1: Spiritual Perspective

In order to access the abundance of inner joy that lies within us, we first have to acknowledge its presence. While there are many paths and traditions of meditation—both modern and ancient—they all embrace the concept that each human being embodies a soul and each soul is a spark of divine joy, love, and light.

When we take this approach, we recognize that we are never disconnected from our divine nature—it’s there within us at every moment. By remembering this simple truth through the countless activities of daily life, we realize that every experience is an opportunity for greater self-knowledge and spiritual growth.

Key #2: Conscious Living

A routine of daily meditation is an essential component of discovering and maintaining one’s inner joy. Why? Because each time we sincerely meditate, we bring forward the light and wisdom of the soul—which in turn fill our being with peace and equanimity.

But meditation alone is not enough. What about all the other hours of the day? A conscious lifestyle will help to bring about happiness in body, mind, and spirit. For this, it’s important to spend one’s time and energy on enjoyable activities. These will be different for each person, but can include such pursuits as music, laughter, exercise, creativity, nature, healthy eating, meaningful work, and the company of enjoyable people.

Another key aspect of conscious living is to limit (and eventually eliminate) those influences in one’s life that cause undue stress, sadness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction.

Key #3: Self-Transcendence

Self-transcendence is the art of challenging oneself to constantly improve. It’s a natural, integral part of the human experience and it’s a proven way to discover and maintain one’s inner joy.

From our earliest years, we’ve been reaping the benefits of self-transcendence: learning to crawl, then to walk, and finally to run at top speed. Every time we learn something new, achieve a significant milestone, take on a challenge, or otherwise strive to become a little more perfect, we experience this feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and transcendence.

Self-transcendence can take place in any and all aspects of our lives: increasing one’s discipline, conquering anger or another negative emotion, showing compassion, reaching a personal goal—and on and on.

When we seek to transcend our previous achievements and current capacities, we automatically turn our attention inward in order to gain strength and determination. This natural human instinct can and will lead us toward a lasting happiness.

“Our philosophy is progress. In our self-transcendence is our tremendous joy.” —Sri Chinmoy