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Welcome To Conscious Friends
March 22, 2009

Hello and welcome to Conscious Friends, a community of The Conscious Living Foundation!

As you know, our site was created to support those interested in spiritual and personal growth. Along the way, many of us have realized that relationships are an important part of creating and maintaining a harmonious and uplifting life.

To that end, The Conscious Living Foundation is pleased to offer these pages on our site in the hope that we all can find new like-minded friends and perhaps develop deeper relationships.

There are several ways to visit these pages.  As a...more

50 Benefits of Meditation
June 17, 2008
Meditation literally means, "thinking process with present moment awareness".

1.) To have healthy heart.
2.) To have normal blood pressure.
3.) To have normal cholesterol.
4.) To prevent stroke / paralysis.
5.) To have perfect digestion.
6.) To have perfect weight.
7.) To have perfect sleep.
8.) To become a perfect choice maker.
9.) To reverse and regress ageing.
10.) To remain young.
11.) To prevent cancer.
12.) To become embodiment of positive emotions.
13.) To get rid of negative emotions. more

Is Consciousness Energy?
June 11, 2008
If you tune into someone's "vibrations," are you picking up some form of energy they are emitting - perhaps something we might call "psychic energy?"

It may be tempting to think so . . . to think of consciousness as a form of energy. But is it?

What might be going on when we say we feel someone's vibrations?

Well, one possibility is that their brain or their body could be sending out waves of energy - something, perhaps, like electricity. If so, it must be far more subtle than any form of energy known to...

100 Ideas for Creating a More Peaceful World
May 20, 2008

Creating world peace takes many forms, but surely it begins with individuals. Here are 100 ideas for creating a more peaceful world. Everyone can play a part in creating peace. It continues to be the most significant challenge of humankind and requires the efforts of each of us.

[The list contains only 97 Ideas because I removed broken links to defunct websites.

You can bring it back to 100 Ideas by adding your own for Creating a More Peaceful World!

When you do, take a moment to post your additions on the Conscious...more

Recipe for Simplicity
May 6, 2008

"Simplify, Simplify…" More than a century after Henry David Thoreau uttered these words, his plea for simplicity has more significance now than ever before.

We work hard and play hard, filling nearly every moment with activity. Most families believe they need two incomes to pay for a standard of living that has doubled in the last 50 years. But do we?

Based on my three-year study of over 200 people who have simplified their lives, I found that we can work less, want less, and spend less, and be happier and more fulfilled in the process.

Here are ten...more

Spiritual Diversity
April 29, 2008

To our pre-Christian spiritual ancestors, spirituality was both contemporary and relevant. In cultures where polytheism (the belief in many gods) was the rule, rather than the exception, individuals were given the ability to find their own beliefs and to choose their own spiritual paths based upon their personal needs and the calling of their own hearts. Households had specific deities that represented the prosperity and protection that the family hoped for their home. Agricultural festivals had gods that watched over the planting, the growing crops, and the harvest. This diverse pantheon of deities created a culture where a person would draw closest to the god...more

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What Is Happiness?
March 20, 2007

Happiness is defined as ‘the overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole. In other words, how much one likes the life one lives. In this definition, happiness is something you are aware of. You may have a disease without knowing, but you cannot be unhappy without knowing.  In this definition, happiness is also an overall appraisal of life. Hence you can be happy with life-as-a-whole, but be dissatisfied with specific domains of life or feel down now and then.

Can happiness be measured?

Because happiness is something we are aware of, it can be measured by asking people. Questions must be precise and responses must be made anonymously. Lengthy questionnaires are not required; mostly single questions do such as:

Taking all together, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?

Dissatisfied                                                             Satisfied
1         2        3        4        5        6        7        8        9        10
In some cases, happiness can better be measured using multiple moment assessment, for instance by asking hundred times over a period of a month “How do you feel right now?” This is called ‘experience sampling and this method is used for children and mental patients who cannot estimate too well how they feel most of the time.

How happy are we?

In rich nations, the average response on the above 10-step question ranges between 8.1 (Switzerland) and 6.6 (Japan). Much lower rates are observed in the former communist nations (4,9 in Russia) and in some African countries (3.9 in Zimbabwe). The average in the present day world is about 6,5.

 When expressed in the number of years lived happily, Switzerland is at top with an average of 63 happy life years and Zimbabwe at the bottom with only 13 happy life years.
Average happiness has risen slightly in most of the rich nations over the last 30 years, but remained at the same level in Japan and the USA. When expressed in happy life years we see an upward trend in all developed nations. Time trends of happiness in poor nations are not available as yet.

How do we assess how happy we are?

Philosophers assume typically that happiness results from comparison between notions of how-life-should-be, with perceptions of life-as-it is. By implication they believe that happiness depends on culturally variable standard of the good life and hence that one can get happier by lowering standards. Yet, psychological research suggests that we rather ‘infer’ happiness from how we feel generally; ‘I feel mostly fine, so I must be happy’.

 In what conditions do we live happiest?

 Happiness depends first of all on the quality of society. People live much happier in rich and democratic countries than in poor and dictatorial nations. Average happiness is also higher in countries where the government functions well and where a climate of tolerance prevails. Together, such variables explain about 75% of the differences in happiness across nations.

Average happiness is also linked to the density of voluntary organizations in the country. One of the reasons is that these organizations give voice to peoples needs and add to interest representation by the parliamentary system. Another reason is that they do often better than state institutions.

When we compare within nations, it appears that happiness does not depend very much on socio-economic position. Income and education explain only about 5% of the differences. Happiness depends more on socio-emotional positioning, loners being typically unhappy. Being married, having friends and participating in voluntary organizations explain some 15% of the differences. Personality explains another 25% of the differences and among the traits that correlate strongly with happiness are sociability and altruism. Sheer good or bad luck explains another 10% of the differences and the other 45% is unexplained as yet.

Most of this research is correlational and does not inform us about cause and effect. Still in the case of voluntary work there is evidence for both. Experimental studies have shown that happy people are more inclined to help others and are more concerned about social problems. There is also evidence of positive effects of volunteering, at least among the aged but among middle-aged full time workers extra volunteering seems to involve a slight sacrifice in personal happiness.

Is it good to be happy?

Most people find feel that is good to be happy but many moral philosophers have reservations. One of their qualms is that it that one can only be happy if one disregards the misery in this world, and hence that happiness depends on a distorted rosy outlook. Another misgiving is that happiness spoils and makes us lazy, uncritical and egocentric. Yet again, empirical research shows otherwise. Happy people appear to be more concerned with social problems and to be more apt to do something about that. There is also evidence that happiness activates and that it encourages social involvement.

Why do we feel happy or unhappy?

We assess how happy we are on the basis of how well we feel affectively. Our affects are largely intuitive and seem to reflect the gratification of basic needs. Affects function as a biological compass and inform the organism of how it is doing in an environment. We share that orientation system with many other animals and in evolution it developed earlier than the human ratio. In this view, happiness works as a signal system. It is comparable to the red and green lights on some machines, where red means that something is wrong and green indicates smooth functioning. Likewise, the experience of unhappiness signifies that there is something wrong, though it not always clear what precisely. Seen in this light it understandable that unhappiness leads to withdrawal mostly, while happiness fuels openness and involvement. Happiness works as a ‘go signal’.

By Professor Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus University

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