The five ingredients for happiness

November 10, 2016


Chinese medicine talks about how your emotional world is composed of five aspects called the Five Shen. When your Five Shen are healthy, you flourish. When your Five Shen are in bad shape, your emotional wellbeing declines.


Each Shen needs something different to thrive. Getting all five of these things in your ‘emotional diet’ can make an astonishing difference to your happiness.


The Five Shen are the Hun, Shen, Yi, Po and Zhi. Their fuel is purpose, love, empathy, respect and safety.



1. Purpose

The Hun gives you direction and purpose, lets you move towards your goals, and enables you to fulfil your destiny. Look after your Hun by deciding what you want, imagining yourself getting it, planning how to get it, and going for it!


2. Love

The Shen (one of the Five Shen – confusing, I know) lets you feel, give and receive love, and to experience joy. Look after your Shen by recognising that you are loved, expressing love to others, and having a jolly good laugh with your mates.


3. Empathy

The Yi is all about empathy. It enables you to care for others and to receive support when you need it. Look after your Yi by caring for and helping others, and by asking for support from people around you. The Yi’s health depends on both giving and receiving, so make sure you give and get!


4. Respect

The Po determines how you view your value as a person. Being shown respect affirms your value and supports your Po. Look after your Po by spending time in situations that support your feelings of self-worth, and by surrounding yourself with people who respect your personal space, privacy, and right to your own thoughts and opinions.


5. Safety

The Zhi is about basic survival. It enables you to evaluate risk and recognise when you are safe. Look after your Zhi by reassuring yourself that you are safe and will be safe. Sometimes this means taking action to make yourself safe. More often, it means looking at the facts realistically and realising that, in reality, all is well.


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