Learn the Art of Spiritual Living

Want to transform your life? Tap into your highest potential? Get inspired, uplifted, and motivated?

Living Wisely, Living Well contains 366 practical ways to improve your life—a thought for each day of the year. Each saying is warm with wisdom, alive with positive expectation, and provides simple actions that bring profound results.

See life with new eyes. Discover hundreds of techniques for self-improvement. Written by the author of the bestselling Secrets series, Living Wisely, Living Well is:

  • A step-by-step guidebook for manifesting your higher Self
  • The distillation of a lifetime of wisdom
  • A call to dynamic inner growth

Take a year off from the “same old you.” Read this book, put into practice what it teaches, and in a year’s time you won’t recognize yourself.

living wisely living well

Swami Kriyananda

Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters, 1926–2013) was a direct disciple of the great spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi), a bestselling author, and an internationally known lecturer and composer. Widely recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on meditation and yoga, he taught these principles and techniques to hundreds of thousands of students around the world.

In 1968 Kriyananda founded Ananda Village in Nevada City, California, dedicated to spreading the spirit of friendship, service, and community around the globe. Ananda is recognized as one of the most successful intentional communities in the world, and more than 1,000 people reside in Ananda communities in the US, India, and Italy. The European retreat and community located in Assisi, Italy, also serves Ananda meditation groups in Europe and Russia.

Ananda Village is home to The Expanding Light, a world-renowned guest retreat facility where thousands visit annually for renewal or instruction in many aspects of meditation, yoga, and the spiritual life. The nearby Ananda Meditation Retreat, located on Ananda's first property, functions both as a retreat and as the site for Ananda's Institute of Alternative Living.

An advocate of simple living and high thinking, Swami Kriyananda's more than 140 books cover a wide range of subjects emphasizing the need to live wisely by one's own experience of life, and not by abstract theories or dogmas.

A composer since 1964, Kriyananda wrote over 400 musical works. His music is inspiring, soothing, and uplifting. Many of his later albums are instrumental works with brief affirmations or visualizations. Chuck Dilberto of Awareness Magazine wrote, “[His] words and music are full of his life and light. His sole intention is to heal, something we could all use during these chaotic times.”

Through Crystal Clarity Publishers, his works have sold over 3 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages.

To learn more, visit the Swami Kriyananda website.


Have you ever felt bewildered when facing a difficult decision in your life? A good friend who is at a personal crossroads recently said to me, “I wish God would just appear and tell me what to do!”

How often we’ve all had similar thoughts, only to flounder for lack of clear direction. But God does tell us what to do. He speaks to us more often than we realize, often in the form of wise, impartial friends. Swami Kriyananda, through the sayings in this book, is such a friend.

Having had the privilege of knowing him for over forty years, I’ve observed that Swamiji himself has faithfully practiced the precepts he recommends in this book. In the vernacular, he “walks his talk.”

Through his practice, Kriyananda has mastered the art of living. His profound, loving insights, gleaned from a lifetime of seeking truth, offer the guidance we need to be living wisely and well with confidence and faith.

–Nayaswami Devi


The sayings in this book consist of lessons I myself have learned in life, whether by experience or through trial and error; sometimes by deep pain or disappointment; many times through an inner joy almost unbearable. Someone said to me many years ago, “You can write happy songs; you’ve never suffered.” I replied, “On the contrary, it’s because I have suffered that I’ve earned the right to express happiness.” What I’ve presented here is the fruit of many years of thoughtfully directed living.

This represents a complete revision of a former book of mine, Do It NOW! Of the more than one hundred books I have written so far in my life, Do It NOW! was always (until now, that is) one of my favorites—so much so, in fact, that when I first published it in 1995 I actually, in my eagerness to share it with others, paid the printing costs myself for five thousand copies, which I gave away freely to others.

Today, fourteen years later, I offer this revised version both because of my continued enthusiasm for the book, and out of my continued growth in the insights it expresses. I ask you, as a favor to yourself: Buy, beg, or borrow this collection of pensées. (But don’t steal it!—see the saying for April 10.) Keep it on your nightstand or in your meditation room. Read from it every morning, and ponder, throughout the day, the thoughts expressed. If even one saying should spare you some of the pains I have experienced in my own life, I shall feel amply rewarded. For whatever tests you face or have faced, they will very likely resemble some that I, too, have known.


Humor arises out of a sudden release of tension with the introduction of some unexpected incongruity. This release, if followed by an upward relaxation into the higher Self, may give a fleeting glimpse of soul-joy. Let this year’s “April Fool’s Day,” then, bring you upward release into the happiness of your inner being, and not draw you down into whirlpools of mockery and cynicism.


Generosity in victory is self-conquest. It loosens the shackles of pride, and fills one with a deep sense of inner gratitude.


If you have a good idea, it may be “the better part of valor” to discuss it with those only who share your ideals. Protect it from people who might jeer, simply because it fails to conform with their preconceptions. Let your confidence gain strength before exposing the idea to human goats, who take pleasure in nibbling on other people’s inspirations.


Attachments are self-limiting—like prison bars. Ah, but see! Between the bars there is space. If you concentrate on that space, the bars will disappear: they consist only of your own “iron” stubbornness, its atoms being your repeated affirmation of a false reality.


To achieve inner freedom, make a mental bonfire every night, before you go to sleep, of all your attachments, self-definitions, desires, and aversions. Nothing that can be measured, weighed, timed, or hoarded can ever truly belong to you. Toss into the flames, piece by piece, every obstacle to your inner peace. Feel your joy soaring skyward, as your limitations, one by one, go up in smoke.


Make it a point today to tell someone whom you love, “I deeply appreciate you for what you are, for what you have done for others, and for what you have given me.” Never take anyone close to you for granted.


Make it a point this day to single out someone whose worth many have failed to appreciate. Take the time to show him or her your appreciation. (That person must, after all, have some admirable quality! Emphasize it.)


Welcome any suggestion for improving your ideas. At the same time, protect them from others’ meddling. Be clear in your mind as to your true intentions.


Purity, innocence, and an absence of selfish motive: these, together, form a diadem more brilliant than that displayed on any emperor’s brow.


Let nothing tempt you ever to compromise an ideal. Morality is not a question of convention. The Ten Commandments are engraved in human nature on tablets of light. The true reason why theft, violence, murder, and other crimes are wrong is that they hurt first of all the perpetrator himself, condemning him to ever-deeper dungeon levels in the rock fortress of his egoism. If you arm yourself, however, with truthfulness, honesty, and integrity, you will emerge someday into perfect soul freedom.


Tune into others’ inner realities. Though the words you speak be similar, your realities may be as different as unrelated languages.


Be more concerned with understanding others than with being understood by them. They too, then, will usually give you their support.


Be “solution-oriented,” not “problem-oriented.” Problem consciousness only draws to itself more problems, as flypaper draws flies. But solution consciousness, like a magnet, attracts answers and shines a bright light onto every difficulty.


Be happy in yourself. If, in a plea for happiness, you hold out a begging bowl to life, the bowl will remain always empty.


Don’t confuse intelligence with cleverness. True intelligence isn’t only cerebral. Its roots lie in clear feeling. Cleverness usually indicates only narrow feelings.


See every problem as an opportunity. Whenever you demolish the obstacles before you, your power for ultimate victory will increase.


Be restful in your heart. A quiet spirit will help you instantly to resolve problems that might otherwise require days, weeks, or even months of fretful pondering—and even then you wouldn’t be certain of the rightness of your decision.


Speak kindly to animals. As human beings are helped upward in their evolution by keeping saintly company, so animal evolution is hastened by association with human beings. You yourself will be helped also, if you extend a helping hand to creatures lower than yourself on the evolutionary scale.


Seek upliftment in the company you keep. Others’ magnetism will affect you, whether for good or evil. Make it a point to mix more with people who radiate goodness. Live, if possible, with spiritually minded people. Especially, seek out and live in a community whose members are dedicated to living by high principles.


In any magnetic interchange, what you give out to others will affect what you receive from them. To ensure the greatest protection from all harmful influences, try to act as a channel of divine blessings to all.


Eat either alone or in uplifting company. When one is eating, he places himself in a frame of mind to absorb energy. He is then more open than usual to the vibrations around him. In public eating places, the vibrations are heterogeneous. There, be centered more than usually in the spine. Otherwise, visit such places with true friends. And always eat in harmony.


Gaze into the eyes of people whose magnetism you’d like to attract. Avoid, on the other hand, the gaze of those whose magnetism might adversely affect your inner peace. Your eternal duty in life is to emerge from the swamp of ignorance, which breeds the pestilence of suffering. Avoid contact with anyone whose magnetism might draw you downward. Delusion keeps people in error for countless incarnations; it has its own dark magnetism. Those who seek truth must avoid ignorance as they would a contagious disease. Avoid especially the brooding gaze of those who live only to gratify their senses.


Don’t ask more of others than you would ask of yourself.


The vibratory interchange between the sexes generates a strong magnetism. Maintain, therefore, a discreet mental distance from, and minimize your contact with, those of the other sex whose consciousness is sensual or worldly. As much as possible, avoid contact of the eyes or hands. (A handclasp creates two horseshoe magnets: the one upward, uniting the upper bodies; the other downward, uniting the lower.) With such people, take care to be centered in the Self.


A principle of magnetic interchange between people is that the stronger magnet always influences the weaker, never the reverse. Unless your inner strength is great, never think yourself capable of uplifting others merely by the exercise of good will.


Keep a spiritual bodyguard, especially when circumstances require you to mix with uncongenial people. The magnetism of two is stronger than that of one. When moving in a crowd, try never to go alone; always have a few friends around you. If you must be in crowds, imagine yourself haloed by an aura of light. Consciously emanate vibrations of love and joy all around you. One evening, years ago, I was obliged to enter the nightclub district of San Francisco. As I went, I silently chanted, “Sri Ram, jai Ram, jai jai Ram.” I was aware of tentacles of negativity reaching out to grab me, but they slipped by without even touching me.


Sow seeds of faith, where others have sown doubt.


Be grateful always—to others, to life, to God. Express appreciation for everything. Appreciation and gratitude—even for such tests as suffering—will attract to you the blessing of increasing abundance.


Let others feel your support in their worthwhile undertakings. Even if they do something of which you don’t approve, let them feel your support for what they are.


To break a person’s will is a sin before God. Allow others to develop at their own pace, to make their own mistakes, to learn their own lessons. How else will they ever evolve, spiritually?

Winner of the 2011 International Book Award for the Self-Help: Motivational Book of the Year

“Use this book for the next year, absorbing one entry per day, and you will find . . . a new look on life. Written by Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and author of over 100 books, he has practiced what he teaches for more than 60 years. Although organized by the months and days of the year, the book can also be used by simply opening at random and reading a passage. . . .

Living Wisely, Living Well is one of those books you will keep and use for years as you find it a neverending source of wisdom, inspiration, and solace.”

Krysta Gibson, New Spirit Journal