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Break Your Norms: 7 Steps to Becoming Your Happiest

by Chandresh Bhardwaj

Have you ever felt like you’re living out a script written for you by others—in your work, your relationships, or spirituality? Compelling new teacher Chandresh Bhardwaj calls on us to break our norms and embrace our own spiritual authority.

This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 46.

Nobody wants life to end up being nothing more than a routine, monotonous exercise. We want to be happy! We work hard, and we want to have something to show for that. So why does it occasionally feel like hard work is not enough? Where did we go wrong?

Why does it seem so difficult to just be happy sometimes?

To help answer that question, do me a favor: write down five things that you do everyday, but wish you didn’t have to do. This list is only for you. These five items are your norms. Consciously or unconsciously, you’ve created these unwanted norms, and then society does its best to program your mind into accepting them. Eventually, you feel trapped in a cage, forced to believe that this is what life has to be like. Well … it doesn’t.

Breaking the norms opens the doors to inner happiness. Your true potential lies beyond unwanted norms. It’s never too late to make a conscious choice to break them.

Here are few tips to help you overcome routine and find that happiness:

Love unconditionally.

When it comes down to it, love is all there is. We cannot attempt to sail through life without love. And here’s the thing about love: you cannot take it from others; you can only give it. If you give love only with the intention of receiving it in return, then that’s not real love. It’s simply a transaction. The reason we fail in relationships, or get stuck in the same old ruts, is because we’re looking at love in the wrong way. Love is meant to be unconditional. When it’s unconditional, it can heal and make you fearless enough to break your norms.

Practice self-forgiveness.

How do I forgive others? This is the one question that I get asked at almost every talk. I used to ask myself this question all the time too. My honest response is: Who are you to forgive others? Our mind makes us feel like we are the end-all-be-all authority when it comes to forgiving others. In reality, the only real power we have is the ability to forgive ourselves. Initiate this self-forgiveness in your life, and release compassion and love to others. This is a great way to help you start breaking free from your conditioned patterns.

Face your fears.

A close friend of mine once told me that fear is just false evidence appearing real. I totally agree! Fear has its roots in our minds. Most of our fear is related to facing the unknown. We are conditioned to be comfortable with what we know, and avoid things that seem mysterious and unknown. However, it’s in the unknown where all of the excitement and creativity lives. If artists and leaders always stayed in their comfort zones, we would have missed out on so much in the world. Today, take an honest moment and write down your deepest fears. Then, start facing them one by one.

Be comfortable with your emotions.

Have you ever held back from crying or shouting out with joy because it didn’t feel like the appropriate time for it? As a spiritual advisor, I’ve met many people who continuously repress their emotions, and as a result they’ve ended up depressed, anxious, or dealing with a number of other problems. To break your norms, you must be ready to accept all of your emotions, and understand that escaping is not the solution. Be it your anger, your greed, your attachments, or your desires … repressing them doesn’t help anyone. You must transform these emotions into feelings that you are comfortable sharing.

Don’t be afraid of new beginnings.

It will be tough at first. And it will definitely be challenging. But it will be worth it. Prepare yourself for new beginnings. If you avoid starting anew, you are avoiding the chance to give your life its true strength. New beginnings are necessary in order to learn from the lessons of our past and explore new territories. A new beginning sends a clear message to the universe: it says you are willing to improve the quality of your life. Your success in life is directly related to your openness to change.

Just let go.

Breaking your norms means letting go of the things that no longer serve you any purpose. You are neither inferior nor superior to anything. You are unique. In order to honor your existence, you must release all that’s repressed in you. Consider it like a weekly (or even daily) house cleaning. You’ve got to clean up in order to stay healthy. No matter how amazing – or painful – your past was, you’ve got to move beyond it. Don’t glorify your past. Don’t bask in something that’s already happened. Forget the was and focus on the is. This very moment is inviting you to celebrate. Won’t you join the dance?


The six tips above will not work if you don’t commit to a disciplined meditation practice. Meditation is the act of being in a choice-less awareness, which does wonders to help you go beyond your norms. You don’t need to be an expert to start your meditation practice. Just a few minutes of daily meditation can bring some powerful changes into your life. Here’s a simple meditation for you to practice daily:

  • Take a deep breath. Sit silently for a few minutes.
  • Slowly bring your awareness to your heart. Feel every single heartbeat. (2 minutes)
  • Ask yourself, who am I? (The answer isn’t important. Don’t get distracted, worried, or anxious while trying to find the perfect response. Keep repeating the question and witness everything your mind says).
  • For the next few moments, continue to think deeper about the answer to the question. Remember, you don’t need a perfect answer.
  • Spend the last few moments sitting quietly, being comfortable in silence.


Meet The Author: Chandresh Bhardwaj is a seventh-generation lineage holder from a family of Indian gurus practicing the Tantric tradition. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker and founder of the Break The Norms Movement, with locations in New York, Los Angeles, New Delhi, and Amsterdam.

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