March 18, 2008 — -- All week, "Good Morning America" has hosted experts to answer viewers' economic inquiries. Today, author Deepak Chopra tackled questions viewers sent in via e-mail and Twitter. Check out his advice below.
How do we help friends and family cope with job loss and depression and keep their spirits and motivation up?
First, let them know you're there for them and that you feel what they're going through. Second, be a great listener.
If you have free time, spend time with them. Money is not what they're looking for. It's not what they truly need. What they truly crave is empathy, compassion, emotional security. Remember, in these trying times, generosity of spirit is more important than generosity of money.
How do we not feel guilty about taking a vacation when everyone around [us] is struggling? Of course we must be humble. But maybe we just shouldn't go?
If you can afford to go on a vacation, then you must definitely take it. It'll help the economy.
If everyone stopped taking a vacation, the airlines would suffer, the restaurants would suffer and everyone who works for the airlines and the restaurants would in turn suffer.
It's a chain reaction. So, if you can afford it, keep the circulation going and take that vacation.
What got us here is that we were spending money we didn't have to buy things we couldn't afford and didn't need. Spend according to your needs but keep the money circulating.
People have lost confidence — banks have become bank robbers, no one trusts the stock market — somehow we must restore that confidence and when we do, the economy will bounce back. And it starts with: if you can afford to take that vacation, do it. It will help many people and it will help the economy.
Would you agree that in times like these, counting our blessings is so important to get us through what many are calling dark days?
Absolutely yes. And here's how you practice that. Close your eyes every morning. Listen to your breathing. Listen to your heart beating. And then experience gratitude by literally counting your blessings. Think of all the things you feel grateful for.
As you do that, you will shift into a quieter mode, your ego moves out of the way, and it opens up your mind to feeling inspired, feeling creative, and gaining insight.
If you're feeling scared right now — and a lot of people are — this process will make you feel less scared. Remember, the longer you feel scared, the harder it will be to get through these tough times. This practice of counting your blessings doesn't cost anything. It can take one, two, three minutes in the morning. And it can be very powerful.
Think about experiences you've had where you've felt loved or loved someone else — perhaps it's the birth of your child, when you first fell in love, or when you think of your parents or your pet. Whenever you think of love, it makes you open to giving and receiving gifts from the universe and the divine.
As people get back to basics and simplicity, what tools do you encourage for people to grow personally instead of growing resentment?
Identify everything that seems to be a problem in your life. Write it down. Then take a few minutes and sit quietly. Ask yourself: What are the opportunities here? What's really important to me? Who are my heroes? What brings me joy? What are my unique talents and skills? And how can I use those to help other people?
You don't need to have the answers. The focus should be on the question. Just ask the question. If you ask the question and keep it alive, the opportunities and the answers will find you.
Just by asking these questions, your life will move you in the right direction — you will find that, through meaningful coincidence — being at the right place at the right time — through what we typically call "luck" or "synchronicity" but what is really grace, what is really having God on your side — the answers and the opportunities will come into your life. But it starts by asking the questions.
How do we distinguish between wants and needs in a more efficient way? I don't know that I'm honest about it.
It's very difficult. We've been hypnotized by media and the consumer industry to buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.
So how do you distinguish between what you want and what you need? Ask yourself, very simply: Can I live without it. That's the difference between addiction and craving and preference — and need.
We've been programmed into believing that lots of money and the ability to buy anything we want is what will bring us happiness. That's not true. Money doesn't make us happy nor does it make us truly secure.
The real causes of happiness have very little to do with money. If you win $20 million today in the lottery, at the end of the year you'd be as happy as you were before you won the lottery — in fact, perhaps you'd be a bit less happy because then you'd start worrying about the stock market, whereas before, when you didn't have money to invest, you didn't have to think about it.
This is the key: Happy people see opportunities where other people see problems. They turn lemons into lemonades. The good news is any of us can become someone who sees opportunities in difficult situations through therapy but also in simpler ways — free ways — such as meditation — or finding a meaningful creative activity — something you love — and most importantly — through making other people happy.
By bringing joy to other people's lives, we inject joy into our own life.
My significant other can't find work. I've lost respect for him but I love him so much. How do I make him get going?
First of all, if you lost respect for him just because he lost his job, then you really don't love him. You need to love him for who he is, not for his job.
It's a vicious cycle: Your losing respect for him diminishes his ability to get a job because it diminishes his self-esteem. Give him respect — that is the biggest thing you can do to help him to get a new job.