Life often feels incredibly complex. So many people, with so many problems! So many issues and situations to deal with! So many moving parts! And so much to learn!

And yet, we also experience moments of clarity. Amidst all the incredible diversity we sometimes glimpse astounding simplicity. Below the constant waves of activity and change on surface of life, there are timeless principles and natural laws that keep operating accurately, consistently, and flawlessly.

This 6-letter “ABC Guide” was initially written for myself, to help cut through day-to-day confusion, and to help me focus on the foundational basics that truly matter. It is a sincere attempt to boil down many years of learning into a simple code for living, that works well for me whenever I’m present enough to apply it… slowly getting better at it! 🙂 I hope that you will find it useful too.

A. Act and Abide in Faith

B. Be Happy and Peaceful

C. Care, Share and Enjoy

D. Drink Healthy, mostly Water

E. Eat Healthy; Exercise & Rest

F. Find your Passion and Live it!


Let’s take a brief look at these six pointers individually.

A. Act and Abide in Faith

If we want a life of happiness, purpose and fulfillment, I believe that faith is the most important to explore and apply, since ultimately, everything that we think and do (or don’t do) is influenced by the faith, beliefs and assumptions that we have within us.

Faith in what? That is an extremely important question, something that we must keep exploring and clarifying within us. For sake of brevity, let’s just say that it is essential to have faith in a life-sustaining entity or principle that is infinitely greater than us.

We may know this entity of our faith by various names such as Almighty Lord, God, Jehovah, Allah, Paramatma, WaheGuru… ultimately all of these refer to the highest power conceivable to humans. Our faith could be grounded in Spiritual and Moral Laws, in a Holy Book, or in Divine Prophets and Enlightened Ones. Those who have agnostic or atheistic beliefs may have deep faith in some cherished Principles and Natural Laws.

What’s important is that we do have some inner faith that positively inspires us, challenges us, and teaches us to keep learning and growing, for our own sake and for the good of others. In other words, to live well, we must let ourselves be inspired and guided by something much larger than our limited self-concepts of “I”, “me”, or “mine”. That’s a simple way to understand and apply “Act and Abide in Faith”.

B. Be Happy and Peaceful

No matter who we are, where we come from, young or old, whether financially secure or not… we all want happiness and inner peace. We all want to “feel OK” within, and we are all driven in the pursuit of happiness, in one way or another.

After many years or decades, and sometimes after a lifetime of pursuit, we eventually learn that peace and happiness is an inside job. Sooner or later, our hearts and minds are forced to acknowledge (at least on occasion) that external pursuits of happiness are always transient solutions, and that these pursuits often do not satisfy even a fraction of our underlying cravings.

Therefore, the real challenge of life is not how to make more money or how to get that promotion, or how to have that love relationship, or how to acquire happiness from outside.

The real challenge of life is to keep observing and training our own hearts and minds, in order to keep letting go of all the self-constructed conditions and judgments that we internally place upon ourselves and on others… we need to keep letting go of those conditions and judgments, so that we spontaneously appreciate and enjoy more of the blessings that we already have.

When we rise to this challenge, we can start observing and engaging with life itself, not just with our mental perceptions and notions of life. We learn to be happy and peaceful inside, no matter whether we “win” or “lose” at the external game of life. And interestingly, the more we enjoy this inner game of life, the better we play with the outer world. The better we play, the more we “win” and feel “lucky”… and the happier we keep getting! 🙂

C. Care, Share and Enjoy

Whether we are able to master the inside job of peace and happiness or not, we all know instinctively that healthy and caring relationships have the power to deeply enrich our lives. But we often miss the point that to have truly healthy relationships, we first need to be secure and healthy within ourselves.

In fact, when we combine points A (abiding & acting in faith) and B (being happy & peaceful); caring for ourselves and for those around us comes intuitively and naturally. And the more we engage and harmonize with others around us (without abandoning A & B), the more life rewards us, both inside and outside.

D. Drink Healthy, mostly Water

Points A, B, and C are mostly about spiritual, mental, emotional and social health, whereas D and E are related more to the physical aspects of health.

With respect to physical or nutritional factors for health, drinking water is the foremost. This is logical, because water is more important than food.

We can actually survive without food for weeks, but not without water. In fact, when we are seriously ill, our appetite for food is typically diminished, but not for water, because the body intuitively knows that staying hydrated will help in recovery.

In fact, hydration is foundational to all nutrition. We can eat the best quality, organically-grown, non-GMO, highest quality whole foods, literally hand-picked fresh from the farm. But this ideal food will not be of much benefit without sufficient hydration to digest, dissolve, transport, and metabolize all those healthy nutrients; and after all that, hydration is needed again to flush out the waste matter.

Not only is drinking water is the foremost nutritional factor that we can control, it is also the least expensive and the easiest to control. And other than breathing in air, drinking water has the highest frequency of intake. So if you are looking for long-term improvements in health, start with the easiest factor that you can control on a regular basis, i.e. drinking water.

We need to optimize both quantity and quality of water intake. The best kind of drinking water is microbiologically safe (tap water is usually “safe” in advanced nations, but often not in developing and poor countries); it is unpolluted (unfiltered tap water usually has significant chemical pollutants, even in advanced nations), and it has healthy mineral electrolytes that help hydration (presence of healthy electrolytes is highly variable, based on water source).

Please avoid drinking unfiltered tap water directly, unless you don’t have any other option. This is not about buying bottled water, which has its own numerous problems. In addition to regulated contaminants that have specified limits, tap water typically has potentially hundreds of disinfection by-products (DBPs), along with a wide variety of unregulated contaminants such as BPA, PFOA, agricultural pesticides, pharmaceutical residues, etc. Please know that unregulated contaminants in drinking water have no specified limits, and no required testing. Further, municipal treated tap water in some countries has toxic fluoride chemicals, which is due to outdated policies that are no longer supported by current science. Therefore, water for drinking and cooking should be purified with a filter or purification system that is certified to remove a broad range of contaminants, including disinfectants, nitrites, and fluoride. The Environmental Working Group (EWG, a highly respected non-profit organization) has published a filter selection guide here. Please see here for hydration tips, and here is a more detailed discussion of healthy hydration.

E. Eat Healthy; Exercise & Rest

There are literally countless books, magazines, fitness coaches and health clubs, that keep reminding us about the basics of eating healthy, exercise, and sleep. In fact, there is often information overload and confusion about nutrition and healthy eating. The simplest way to cut through this confusion is to enjoy a variety of real and fresh foods from Mother Earth, instead of processed foods that come out of packages.

It is best to be highly selective about the foods we buy and consume. For example, buy organic for selected foods whenever possible (e.g. dairy products, poultry and meat products, and selected fruits and vegetables). The EWG publishes an annual food guide (see here for 2015 version) with reports on foods that are tested and found (within United States) to be the most contaminated with pesticides (best to buy these organic, if you have the option), and those foods that are least contaminated.

We may be concerned about the financial cost of buying organically grown food, filtering our water, adding essential electrolytes etc, and rightly so. When such concerns come up, it’s time for a reality and priority check. Consuming good quality drinking water and wholesome food should be a much higher priority than discretionary spending on stuff like clothes or cars. When making a hard choice, I would rather spend my money on keeping a healthier mind and body, instead of riding a fancier car… how about you?

Although the importance of getting sufficient exercise and sleep is well known, these key factors for healthy living are often neglected or willfully pushed aside due to “more important priorities”. In the big picture exercise and sleep are among the most powerful ways to keep ourselves healthy and energized; and we short-change ourselves whenever we neglect these.

F. Find your Passion and Live it!

Even when we are doing well with respect to health, relationships and finances, we instinctively know that there is something more to be done. Life does not feel fulfilling or satisfying if we don’t have meaningful goals and a larger purpose to our existence. This point brings us back to where we started this short guide.

Most people at some point find themselves questioning what the overall purpose of their life is. I believe that all of us have a shared inner purpose of spiritual growth, and all of us also have an “outer” worldly purpose and path that is unique to each individual. Further, our inner spiritual and outer worldly purposes are essentially two sides of the same coin; they complement and support each other.

I also believe that when we challenge ourselves to continually explore and allow ourselves to be guided by a deeply held faith, our true passion unfolds naturally. Our individual purpose and path becomes clear to us over time in the context of our faith, and in the context of the talents and interests that we already possess. Working and journeying along that purposeful path no longer feels burdensome. This kind of purposeful work brings us deep satisfaction. Slowly and surely, life seems to get simpler, even though we may be dealing with more complexity than ever.

In fact, life does not necessarily become “easier” when we passionately follow our faith and life purpose. However, we are able to deal with various life situations more effectively on the inside, and we feel better about it.

In summary, when we follow an inner compass of faith and work towards the true north of our purpose, when we train our hearts and minds to be happy and peaceful, and when we care and share with others along with taking care of ourselves, life becomes simpler, richer, and deeply satisfying.