Some people would argue that science and spirituality are mutually exclusive. I, however, couldn’t disagree more. I believe they’re part and parcel of the same whole.
Science is what we can quantify about the universe — spirituality is what we have to take on faith (at this point in human development, anyway). Personally, I believe in infinite possibilities, open minds and inexplicable phenomenon, but I also believe in analysis, statistics and studies.
When it comes to happiness, science has *some* nuggets of wisdom to impart. This wisdom is limited, however, since up until recently, science has focused its attention almost exclusively on pathology. Happy people weren’t worth studying, and researchers were far more interested in depression, neuroses and disease.
So, science doesn’t know as much about happiness as it probably could. That’s changing, however. Positive psychology is garnering a lot more attention these days.
My personal philosophy on happiness is a mish-mash of spiritual teachings and scientific research; of anecdotal evidence, personal experience and statistics. I believe science and spirituality go hand in hand when explaining happiness. And believe it or not, the two disciplines have a lot in common.
Take the work of Dr. David Burns, for example. One of the preeminent proponents of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), he’s a tried and true scientist — a psychiatrist, professor and the author of Feeling Good, a guide to overcoming depression. His methodology is all about changing distorted patterns of thought. Decades of hands-on research and practice have proved that people get happier when they change the way they think.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are spiritual teachers like Wayne Dyer, Abraham Hicks and Byron Katie. They’re far from scientists, but their messages are, essentially, the same: change your thoughts, change your life. Wayne Dyer teachers personal empowerment. In his words, “What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds.” Abraham Hicks is all about the law of attraction — IE, what we think about is what we bring about. And Byron Katie is the master of teaching people to question their thoughts.
All are offering the same essential message: IT’S ALL IN OUR HEADS. The way we think is everything. Distorted, negative thoughts create distorted, negative circumstances and a distorted, negative state of being.
There’s no way to overemphasize the importance of what’s going on in our upstairs. What’s buzzing around our brains all day becomes our reality. And no matter what else we might do to change our lives, if we can’t establish control over the ebbs and flows of our own consciousness, we’ll never be happy. Or at peace.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.”
And seriously, when new age gurus and super-pragmatic scientists are in agreement — we must be on to something.