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The Ultimate Happiness Prescription by Deepak Chopra (book recommendation)

Just about everyone nowadays has at least a passing familiarity with Deepak Chopra. He’s an M.D., but has specialized in alternative medicine for about 2 decades. He’s been a consultant on countless news programs, been on Oprah Winfrey many times, etc. He definitely has his critics out there, and I’d say I’m a bit skeptical of some of his claims, but lack some of the knowledge of medicine and quantum mechanics to directly refute some of his statements. My friend had a DVD of Chopra that he showed me a couple of years ago that reminded me of some of the information contained in the documentary, What the (Bleep) Do We Know?

Chopra combines information from Eastern traditions, theological and philosophical thinking, psychology, neurology, quantum physics, mindfulness, and positive psychology in his unique way to promote physical and emotional well-being. I had the opportunity seeing Chopra speak in person at the 2009 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Anaheim, California. Let me tell you, he is D-E-E-P ak. He led the audience from one step to another that took us deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, so to speak. Some of the stuff that he presented on the nature of reality, the mind, and our existence was quite mind-boggling. My head felt like it was swimming near the end of his presentation. Who am I? Who are you? Does Deepak exist in reality, or did I create that reality in my head? Because my body and brain are made up of regenerated/replaced cells and atoms, we have all, in effect, died many times over???? We are blinking in and out of existence according to quantum physics but I always feel like I’m here? DOH!

As you can see, Chopra does get pretty far “out there.” I think physicists take him to task on some of his…”creative” interpretations of quantum physics. In 1998, according to Wikipedia, he was awarded the satirical Ig Nobel Prize in physics for “his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness.” So, again, he is not without his critics. 

Still, Chopra is obviously a very bright and learned man, and there is some helpful information in this book. In The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, he pulls together many of his teachings (that he gathered from other sources) that are designed help readers live happier, more fulfilling lives. Like other authors and spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle, I don’t think Chopra is necessarily saying anything new (and some of his scientific and physics assertions are a stretch). But you don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water here. If his writing connects with you and is useful, that’s what is most important. I would say that this book would appeal to the curious person who is looking for something “dense” but still fairly accessible. He integrates more science into his approach than other writers, such as Tolle or Jack Kornfield. It’s not for a casual, light read. If Chopra’s popularity or sometimes creative use of science is a major sticking point, then it might be best to bypass this book. I listened to the unabridged audiobook, which was read by Chopra.

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