It should be no surprise to learn that happy people are healthier and live longer. Happiness brings more success to relationships and makes us more resilient during stressful times. Happy people perform better in their jobs and earn higher incomes. The happiest among us naturally feel a sense of inner peace. The United Nations recognizes happiness as a significant measure of outcome in our world and since 2012 has sponsored an annual happiness report of all countries. The latest results from the 2019 report are revealing.

The United States in the 2016-2018 epoch ranked 19th in the world, below top place finishes by Scandinavian countries, several central and western European countries, Australia-New Zealand, Canada, and Costa Rica. Out of 132 countries, the U.S. is among the top 15% of the happiest in the world. Notably, if material wealth were the source of happiness, the U.S. would be much higher on the list. Despite its relatively smaller size compared to other countries, it represents fully one quarter of the world’s economy. It seems clear that significant resultant happiness due to the acquisition of material wealth is fleeting, at best.

Of greatest concern is the fact that the U.S. has lost considerable ground in the happiness measure since 2005, which marks the starting point of the UN data collection. The U.S. ranked 112th of 132 countries (Venezuela came in last) when looking at the change in levels of happiness from 2005 through 2018. In the Declaration of Independence, one of the three unalienable rights declared by our founding forefathers was the pursuit of happiness, ranked equally with liberty and life itself. Yet, over 13 years, our happiness level has decreased more than 111 other countries. Where has the U.S. gone so wrong in pursuing one of the simplest measures of success available – our very happiness?

The 2019 report addresses the role of digital media in diminishing our sense of happiness. Among U.S. adolescents, happiness increased from 1991-2011, but has been in steady decline since 2012. Of note, smartphone availability and usage began a dramatic increase in 2012. This decline has also been associated with a serious increase in depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm, especially among girls and young women. Overall, suicide increased by 26% in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015, with especially alarming bubbles in young females and middle-aged white males.

In spite of the long-term rise in GDP per person over the measured interval, several simultaneous trends have contributed to our country’s malaise: worsening health conditions, declining social trust, and declining confidence in government. Many of the comments concerning the U.S. apply widely to other countries, especially in the Americas and Europe. Overall, the report elucidates how elusive happiness becomes when we are self-absorbed in our own little worlds, abandoning the social fabric of relationships with family and friends, and falling victim to satisfying the demands of our ego as it promotes our material-oriented drives.

The general impact of burgeoning addictions has contributed to the spread of unhappiness in the U.S. Addictions are widely defined to include not just narcotics and alcohol, but addiction to work, exercise, screen time, food, sex and love, among others. Any activity that consumes a person’s time, energy and interest at the expense of the rest of their life is considered an addiction. One of the major consequences is the damage and destruction of relationships with others. In contrast, the report findings support the notion that helping others can be a very rich source of happiness, a fact that may have been lost on many of the me-focused screen-addicted people in our modern world. Small acts of kindness and compassion represent a significant effect on happiness, for both the giver and the recipient.

The good news is, we can correct this course direction. We must realize we are not victims of circumstance – the outer world is a reflection of our inner world.

We tend to see ourselves as existing separately from the world around us, but, in fact, our entire mental model of self and world is ours alone. Language is all about objects, relationships and actions, and thus obscures the seamless oneness of our conscious perceptions in which all of the universe is an aspect of our mental “self.” Placebo effect is just one of the most common examples showing that our beliefs and mental will can affect the physical world in ways that defy simplistic materialistic notions of cause and effect.

Combine this realization with the emerging scientific concept that we are all sharing one mind. In fact, consciousness is unified throughout the universe and is only filtered into our awareness through our brains, luring us into believing that personal consciousness is isolated when that is not the case at all. Our very existence as sentient beings offers us significant influence in how that mental world evolves. This highlights the value of exploring the mental realms as a means of interacting with the universe at large.

In essence, the main thrust of modern scientific studies of consciousness is revealing that we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual universe. The more separatist, competitive materialistic thinking has pervaded our modern world, the further we have migrated from our basic spiritual nature, resulting in unhealthy dissonance and toxicity. This spiritual vacuum in our world is at the root of much of societal malaise, whether it be the storm of addiction that is killing us in unprecedented numbers, or the shocking epidemic of suicidal behavior afflicting huge swaths of our modern society – those who have lost any sense of meaning or purpose, not to mention happiness, in their lives.

To contribute to these efforts, Karen Newell and I have created Inner Sanctum Center, an online community designed to help open minds to these truths through exchange of ideas and generating firsthand experience. As part of its launch, we invited participants in our 33 Day Journey free program to a recent Live Q&A Session on October 22, 2019. We invite you to view a replay of this 93-minute session where we answer questions on a variety of topics.

No soul left behind – all can achieve inner peace and happiness, and the more each of us achieves this worthy goal, the more harmonious our world will become.

12 replies
  1. Peter Boyce
    Peter Boyce says:

    I’m a uk Quaker. For me, Eben’s discoveries have added to my Quaker faith. Two of the central claims of Quakerism are, firstly ‘ that of God within everyone’ and that God makes use of the Inward Light in communicating, directly, making any mediator unnecessary. Eben’s identifies the Soul, I prefer Spiritual Self, as the Spiritual centre in us all. He sees this as the third component in the brain/mind complex one that is immune to disease. As a Biologist i accept his arguments as Scientific proof. Eben’s books are a must for anyone seriously interested in spiritual matters. I am so grateful to him for his guidance. I am abundantly happy and have no fear of death. Psychology helps Religion cures.

  2. Eileen M.
    Eileen M. says:

    I would like to add that I find NDE very real. I am always searching for NDE articles and people who had the experience because each one of us had a different experience going towards the light. In 1981 I was in a Motor Vehicle Accident, and had a NDE. It was very beautiful and I wanted to go toward the light. I believe that tapping into that part of the brain, leaves us to look at life differently. I didn’t know about Dr. Eben Alexander until yesterday when I was in church and hearing a homily about Dr. Alexander. For some reason my life journey led to me hearing this homily as I feel I needed to hear it. It was then I googled Dr, Alexander and read NDE in depth. After my NDE and over the years, I see life on earth different that most people that didn’t experience it. I find it difficult to be in social situations. My life has entirely changed after my NDE.

  3. Margaret Coles
    Margaret Coles says:

    Hello Eben/Karen and all communicators. It is quite some months since I last communicated on the blogs. Usually, no one can usually shut me up, but health issues have hampered me over the last few months, that and two deaths in the extended family. However, even though I need a scan, which will happen later in the month, I am feeling better and positive. Well done Lily, for reaching 90 years, I will be 80 next February and still causing people to sit up and take notice. I get away with, well, not murder, but I stretch the licence barriers a bit.! I love the photo, what an upliftment with the colour. In the Summer. I did a blurb about a young man who committed suicide on a railway station, then recently, another report of a young woman sending herself the same way. I wrote to the headmaster of the young man’s school, but never had a reply. My Mother always taught me to say thankyou and honour the time and thought put into a letter. Just another small way we have let our sensitivities go down the proverbial. I think a lot of questions can be asked about the deeper issues of why and wherefore of sin, degradation and falsehood of all kinds can be found in Neale Donald Walsch books. I did a shop in a local supermarket recently and on leaving the store walked by a table with second hand books, donations to a local charity. I picked up Neale’s Book one, “Conversations with God”, first published in 1997. Really feel that was meant to be there for me to see. I was always impressed by his angle, his experiences that led him to such agonizing events, doubts, resentment and it seems “mistakes” made over and over again until he shouted at God. To my way of thinking, the choices that Neale made, were just for this purpose to act as a catalyst for God to directly connect not just to him, but us too, the readers. So, tragic events are not a waste of time, illness, pain, “accidences” Whatever, tragedies, and that covers a multitude of sins, hit the planet and her occupants, something can be gleaned out of it. Our best bet, is to be the best person we can be, to listen for guidance, be open every minute of the day to “direction” Whatever the occasion, event, illness, “accident” disaster, murder, abuse, it can be healed. A vast amount of dreadful actions are the result of upbringing, mistaken intentions, vulnerability, family history that can cover many generations going way back. This is just a minute example, the human race, genetics, upbringing, fears, what else? Karma, religious instruction/ force fed as you might say. These angles are all contributory. I have confessed before, that I have not always been the kind, loving and sharing soul I am now. Somewhere along the line, a slow waking up happened and over several decades, the pennies have dropped. Re, the soul who went over the bridge, well, love his heart, thank him for his contribution to our quest. I will write again, no doubt, very soon, I have let my dusting go for today! Much Love and Blessings to all, Margaret.

  4. Dick Benson-Gyles
    Dick Benson-Gyles says:

    Eben — what you say is undoubtedly true. However, you seem to have omitted one definite cause of unhappiness, particularly in the USA, namely materialism and the public’s obsession with the material, an obsession with ‘things’ —- a grander house, a foreign holiday, flashy clothes, cheap junk food, new cars, and having more money than your neighbour. It’s a sort of unseemly worship of the physical world and all its blandishments, and that’s despite the rather false and noisy outporings of religious commitment every Sunday in evangelical churches all over America !

    Dick Benson-Gyles.

  5. Robert
    Robert says:

    Dear Dr. Alexander,

    1. Does Om have free will? If so, Om could create universes where love does not lay at the center. If not, then there is something greater than Om, limiting Om, and IT could send me to suffering.

    2. Am I one with Om? If so, then how come I don’t know everything? If not, then where does “I” end and the “not I” begin?

  6. James Quinn
    James Quinn says:

    How do we discern true spirituality from escapism? I once thought the world was waking up, but now seems more fractured, corrupt, violent and fearful than ever. I feel only some form of true spirituality can push the mass of humanity away from materialism, war and climate destruction. It has to, or we will self-annihilate, either through runaway warming or a nuclear war.

  7. Kai
    Kai says:

    Dear Dr Alexander,

    I love your work and am grateful for finding you. You pulled me through some tough times. But that’s not the reason im writing to you today.

    I know of a man who is extremely awakened. Very aware of his consciousness is shared with everyone around him. Although he has had a history of emotional abuse from childhood from his divorced parents when he was five. He still manages to remain convinced that he has something to contribute to the world. Be it lessons for the younger people he interacts with to give mature, objective advice despite everything that should convince him not to in juxtaposition to his past.

    He has never had any close friends because he was constantly moving from place to place when he was younger. He has also been diagnosed with PTSD,DID, and borderline personality disorder. He has taken medications in the past that made him MORE suicidal than he originally was. Everyone in his family is narcissistic and have their own agendas, so as a result.. he has had difficulty trusting others and maintains long term relationships because he ends up being used and manipulated but won’t resort to violence because of his fear of jail and the afterlife.

    This person as a result.. never finished high school but from copying his narcissistic parents, has managed to haave over 100 different type of entry level jobs in order to survive and avoid homelessness and jail.

    Now this person is homeless.. and listens to your interviews everyday. He has no resources available because of red tape in the social services departments and his friends are mostly married and have children of their own.

    If this person committed suicide. I want you to know you kept him here longer by teaching him self love, and that we are all one and because of that.. he has touched people’s lives in ways he never would have continued to do.

    There has also been times where he has received “signs” such as strangers talking about death, or asking for signs from guides,angels,Source,ancestors,Buddha and the signs have always indicated to go the direction of suicide.

    One night last year he was on top of the Queensborough Bridge but before he went … He went to the Dunkin Donuts nearby. The reciept number was 444. In Chinese , it’s an omen of death. When he was walking up the walkway path to jump. A police van was waiting but suddenly drove off, and there was no one around. Not even delivery food cyclists.

    I think the timing of suicide matters a lot too. I hope you mention someday when I come back and if I find your material again.. that you mention it could be a souls path or journey to learn about lonliness and suicide as life lessons. I know Gary Schwartz did it, and so does Mark Pitstick. But I think it would help coming from you directly.

    Gos Bless, and Namaste.

    P.S I grew up Christian and the book of Revelation scared me to thinking about death everyday when I was a child in Sunday School. Thanks for the relief I’ve searching for and for letting me know, that were not judged.

    • KimSpirit
      KimSpirit says:

      What’s causing your friend to currently feel so bad? How can we help? What will make him feel better? I do think things can get better. Don’t you? What are your thoughts?

  8. KimSpirit
    KimSpirit says:

    I don’t know what to think, Doctor. Improving national happiness in an effort to stimulate international harmony? On the veneer, the concept almost sounds narcissistic to me, or – at a minimum – a sign of self-absorption. In other words, personal goals, which are all about increasing our very own enjoyment and delight, are highlighted. Nonetheless, in our name, we are presently fighting wars (“counter-terrorism” operations) in 76 countries. Moreover, in our name, we have embargoes (economic sanctions) placed against 30 countries, frequently leading to widespread famine, disease, and death. Millions have already died “over there” because of U.S.-led wars and sanctions; never mind the tens of thousands of American military casualties. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the welfare of others than ourselves? Isn’t that the point?

  9. New York City Queens
    New York City Queens says:

    Dr. Alexander. Im first! hahaha

    I just wanted to say… I’ve been reading your book and Anita Moorjani’s books since they came out. Whenever I didn’t want to talk to someone because I knew the generic advice they would dispense, I settled down with a cup of tea, and remembered why my life is so precious and vital… I think you know where I mean with this haha..

    I don’t have any family or close friends, but reading things relating to your experience from other accomplished and esteemed people give me a reason to stick it out another day. Namaste. Cheers

  10. Lily L Lee
    Lily L Lee says:

    This is a noble goal, tell me what to do probably not much since my next birthday will be the 90th, generally I’m not unhappy, actually I am pretty happy but I want to help.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Dear Lily; I’m of the same mind as you, to be ninety next September, and generally very happy and healthy, at peace and at ease.

      Blessings to YOU and me


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