Life is a ripoff when you expect to get what you want.
Life works when you choose what you got.
Actually, what you got is what you chose.
To move on, choose it.
If someone knocked on your door tomorrow and handed over a tax-free check for $10 million, or $100 million, or even $1 billion, would you know what to do with it? Would you already have a very clear handle on how you would choose to spend your time?
At that point, money would be no object. In theory, you could do anything you want. Would that automatically make you happy?
We live in a consumer culture. Hundreds, if not thousands of ads, commercials or promotions per day bombard each of us. Imagine if you could get every single one of the products and services you see on TV or digital devices. Would that make you truly happy?
It is said that you can never get enough of what you don’t truly want. Fake happiness is based on instant gratification and cheap thrills. It is always external to you, and leaves you dependent and craving, whether it is a new Lexus or a hot fudge sundae. You are usually in a rush to get your hands on it. Very often, what you buy functions as a status symbol to separate yourself from the pack.
True happiness is based on your actual experience, independent of the actual object.
It’s not the object itself… it’s the feeling beyond it is what we crave for. For example, Apple Mac’s, iPads and iPhones are compelling, because they are beautifully designed, and impart a sense of perfection. They empower you to do all kinds of things you never even thought of doing. They awaken the creative YOU, and derive their unique value from that. They open you up in a huge way, and that is their incomparable gift.
If you are like most of us, you want a life that closely matches the glossy magazines. You want to hobnob with the rich and famous. How about visiting Richard Branson on his Necker Island? Think of the prestige of giving a keynote speech along with the Dalai Lama. How about attaining ultimate professional recognition? Maybe you can win the Pulitzer, or even the Nobel Prize!
As did the ancients, you want power, glory, wealth and romance. You want to have it all. If it is education, you want a Ph.D. from a prestigious school in a hot subject. How about a Ph.D. from Stanford in A.I. to make you a standout data scientist? Why not grab the first new model Tesla off the assembly line, even ahead of Elon Musk?
You want your life to go smoothly, effortlessly. If someone gave you a magic wand to wave, and have anything you wanted, you would drop everything you are doing, seize it and never look back. You want a trophy wife or a rich husband? No problem. You want people to adore you all over the world, and remember your name forever? No sweat.
If you are not smiling by now, you should be. You must sense something is off in this hedonistic calculation. Attaining all of the wonderful things above is external to you. Who ARE you? Why are you here? What is your mission in life? The Big Picture is infinitely more satisfying.
You want an energizing relationship with your Creator. Your Source adores you. He is even in love with you. You are here to literally become God, to fulfill your ultimate potential. You were created to create. This is your playground. You are taking in the lessons you need to become the master magician.
You want an energizing relationship with a Significant Other, male or female. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a husband or wife, or even a relationship. Your Significant Other is anyone who deeply inspires you, who cares about you in some way. Like a knight in shining armor, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for your lady in the castle.
You want an energizing relationship with your WORK. Your work is most definitely not your job, or even your career. It goes much deeper than that. It is your mission in life, what you were expressly designed to accomplish. Jesus Christ defined it for Himself quite simply, “I have come that you might have life, and that more abundantly.” He wasn’t preoccupied with a crown of glory, only with making Earth more like Heaven.
Related article: Life as Art, Art as Life
Dr. Abraham Maslow transformed psychology back in the 1960’s from being preoccupied with sick people to increasingly focusing on health people. Maslow opened up humanistic psychology, which set the stage for transpersonal psychology, and the whole transformational movement.
Maslow work focused on a hierarchy of needs, which motivate people. He pointed out in his conceptual pyramid that we obviously must meet basic needs before we can concentrate on higher ones. We need food, water, warmth and shelter, then safety and security, and then belongingness and acceptance. After we feel sufficiently loved, we can then focus on self-esteem, differentiating ourselves in society through accomplishment.
Maslow identified these early needs, the basic and psychological needs, as deficiency motivation. We are operating out of a deficit, and need to fill a void. Only then can we feel OK. He then completes his pyramid with Self-Actualization, including peak experiences. This entails the ability to make your dreams come true. Maslow even hinted there was something beyond that for a few, what he called, “Self-Transcendence.” You give up preoccupation with your everyday self and discover a whole new identity, that of a divine being.
All the money in the world would seem hollow if you stopped growing. You could have it all, and yet feel as if your life were almost over. Executives with hundreds of millions of dollars have actually jumped out of high rises. By their own estimates, they were abject failures.
In accomplishing anything truly worthwhile, you are not the same man or woman as you were when you began. The effort opens you up, matures you, empowers you to go to the next level in your life. We don’t want to produce schlock. We want to be world-class whatever our area of expertise.
Our achievements must resonate with the Big Picture--why we, as individuals, came to Planet Earth. We each have our life work. We are each given one or more talents, as well as one or more passions. The breakthrough happens when our talents and passions perfectly align with the world’s deepest need.
Christ reminded His disciples that they are the Light of the World. We, too, are the light of the world, even when we don’t admit this. We deeply want to make a difference in a world that appears all too flawed, with endless wars, financial upheaval and ecological distress. We want to make this a better world when we go than it was when we came.
If you look at people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they didn’t build the computer industry just for the money. Something else made them tick. They loved computers, and they wanted to make sure that everyone had equal access to them, a computer on every desk, one that you would love. Gates ended up systematically giving away his billions with the Gates Foundation, inspired by his wife, Melinda.
When I got out of college and first took the est training, I remember Werner Erhard disclosing how much he wanted to leave a legacy. We all knew about his black Mercedes coupe and smiled. However, that was hardly the focal point of his life. As Werner, himself, put it, “When I die, the only thing I want is a world that works. Put ‘A world that works’ on my tombstone.”
The older I get, the clearer it is to me that this is all about love. Unconditional love is what we crave more than anything else. That love IS happiness. We want to give love as much as we want to receive it. If we were granted an entire world, that world would be empty and useless without someone to share it.
The fastest way to experience happiness and open your heart to love is through gratitude. Simply making a list every day, both for what you have already received over the years, as well as what you are about to receive in the near future, absolutely works. The Secret was totally straight about this, and its emphasis on giving thanks was more than worth the price of admission.
When I truly fell in love with someone special… I learned to love unconditionally. That love elevated me spiritually to the point where I could get direct access to universal love. I began to spontaneously feel love towards all kinds of people, whether or not they fit my pictures.
When we truly get into what we are doing, whether washing the dishes, taking out the trash or working on our taxes, we feel free. It is our resistance to all the exigencies of life that makes us miserable. You can even get into seeing you dentist. Mine has a beautiful office surrounded by a mini-forest.
Life is always in the moment. NOW, NOW and NOW. When you learn to go with your living experience, you will take in the lovely girl’s smile, your colleague’s pat on the back or the breathtaking sunrise. You need nothing more. Just that. When you can relish every moment, you are truly happy. This world is inherently beautiful, no matter how ugly we try to make it.
When you give up your agenda and you stop feeling frantic about things, you will feel free. A highly intelligent entrepreneur I know went on a vipassana retreat for two weeks. No radio or TV. No books. No electronic devices. Complete silence. People simply dropped off food to his cabin. That was it. He found the experience deeply rewarding, and recommends it to others.
Happiness is never really “out there,” as much as that seems to be the case. It always emerges within you. It is a state that can come and go times without number. Happiness is something you can choose. You can start by thanking someone. You can bless anyone who walks buy. You may not even feel it at the time. Later you most definitely will.
A prominent nondual master taught his students a very simple path to freedom. Imagine that God really does control everyone and everything. There is no such thing as free will. Whatever will happen will happen, no matter what you do. All you can ever do is go with the flow. You really have no other choice. You will then feel a sense of freedom that defies explanation. How can you lose?
Long before we started Conscious Owl, we played with a paradoxical aphorism that still has merit: You can have anything you TRULY want, so long as you choose it EXACTLY the way that it is!
You can have anything you TRULY want, so long as you choose it EXACTLY the way that it is!