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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Andrea Polard: A Unified Theory of Happiness


Life cannot be reduced to a single variable, and neither can happiness. Happiness is not a single type of positive human experience such as pleasure, control, surrender, compassion, or even love. Life is multifaceted, and so is happiness. If we wish our lives to be happy, we need to accept life’s complexity and respond to it with our full human potential. We have to learn to relate to all facets of life.

Many popular psychology books center on only one or two aspects of happiness and are therefore destined to be ineffective. This book, written for seekers of true happiness, takes into consideration the whole of life and the necessity to reflect upon its dynamic complexity.

For nearly two decades I have explored happiness. I have found that once our primary needs are met, happiness depends entirely on the development of our consciousness. The development I refer to pertains to the ability of consciousness to change its focus and to skillfully relate to what it focuses upon. First, such a consciousness can narrow its attention and engage with other beings and external goals. Second, such a consciousness can broaden its engagement with life itself. It can thus slide in and out of two types of mental modes, namely the Basic Mode and the Supreme Mode. In the Basic Mode, we relate to “who” and “what” we perceive as distinct from ourselves. In the Supreme Mode, we relate to the plain Being that lies within us all. These two modes can work as harmoniously as the wings of a bird. I refer to this union as the Two Wings of Happiness.

To obtain this harmony, we must examine both wings. Western thought is best suited to the Basic Mode. In the Basic Mode, we apply tools that help us function with deep satisfaction in various areas of life. I will elaborate on the Supreme Mode mostly from the Eastern perspective. The Supreme Mode stresses the realization of Being and the multitude of paths toward it. I integrate Eastern ideas into our Western way of thinking because focusing on Being gives us enormous peace and strength. This is deeply fulfilling, and it also makes us fit for action in the Basic Mode. Together the Basic Mode and the Supreme Mode make it possible to relate to all levels of life and achieve full life participation.

In order to develop our consciousness, we must find out how to access and utilize both modes. In part 1, I will begin by discussing both modes in depth, and follow up with the Two Wings of Happiness questionnaire for easy self-assessment. In parts 2 and 3, I will offer tools and paths to help you learn how to skillfully use and access both modes of consciousness. Each chapter ends with concrete suggestions and practical exercises. This book thus becomes a personalized guide for the transformation of consciousness that allows for your happiness to flourish.

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