No! This article isn’t about to promise you that adhering to the Three Principles will guarantee you tons of success and heaps of cash, I’m sorry to disappoint you! But we are going to take an in-depth look at what success is really about and what that could look like.
Firstly, I often hear people talking about “adhering to the Principles,” as if by doing so they were accessing some kind of magic formula guaranteeing that they will always be happy and everything will be a-okay in their world from now on.
To be honest, there is a certain truth in that, which I will explain further in the article, but what’s not true is the “adhesion” part – there is nothing to adhere to and, above all, there is no magic thought or magic formula.
The Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness are simply a description of the way life works:
Mind – being alive; Thought – we all think; and Consciousness – we all have awareness.
As such, there is nothing in particular to do other than gain a true understanding of where our experience of life comes from. This understanding teaches us that our experience of life comes not from without, but from within. Trying to “adhere” to the Principles would be a little like trying to adhere to the sun coming up every day; the sun coming up every day is just a physical fact – we can neither take action to make it happen nor to prevent it happening and any attempt to do so would be simply futile – I think we all agree on that. Yet, for some mysterious reason, we believe that our experience of life comes from outside of us and not from inside of us, leading us to futile attempts to control future outcomes in order to be happy at last! I’m not really sure where that belief came from – was it prehistoric man who, in a battle for survival achieved a sense of appeasement running away from rampaging mammoths? What seems to be the most apparent is that our ability to verbalize neuro-electrical impulses in the brain (thoughts) is at the same time source of our super-creativity when put to good use but also our downfall through its misuse.
With our thoughts we give meaning to our experience, we create feeling. This is very easy to understand and the more simply we see this, the more profound an impact it ultimately has on our lives: if you have a happy thought, you’re going to feel happy; if you have a sad thought, you’re going to feel sad. Again, this is an indisputable fact.
Where we go off-track as human beings is when we believe that it is because of the outside circumstances that we have particular thoughts and thus feel a particular way. Our society has taught us that in certain circumstances we must feel happy and in others we must feel sad. But the truth of the matter is that thought is fluid and whatever we may be thinking-feeling in one particular moment, in another moment we will think-feel completely differently.
How many of us have been in a situation, the loss of a job for example, where we think that this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to us, where we feel disheartened, de-motivated, upset, angry then a few months down the line, we’re glad that we no longer work in that place, after all the boss was an ogre who never had a good word to say about anyone? Of course the opposite may be true, perhaps it was a wonderful place to work; unfortunately we’re going to spend the next ten years regretting this past loss; the only effect of that is that it will prevent us from seeing what’s good in our lives today, right now, and appreciating the new experiences that we will have had since that job-loss day.
The fact of the matter is, unless we deliberately latch on to our own thinking, new thought will very naturally come along and with those new thoughts we will experience new feelings and new perspectives; the truth is, we have no obligation to think whatever we happen to be thinking. Again, there is nothing to do, this is not about deliberately changing your thoughts, as a French expression says “chase what is natural and it comes galloping back,” but the simple realization that there is no obligation to think any particular thought is what will bring you peace of mind and allow whatever thought you may be having to dissipate as it is very naturally designed to do.
Patrick Swayze – MegaSuccess?
A recent documentary about the life of actor Patrick Swayze spoke about the rise and fall of this man. What was striking in the documentary was that here was a man who had, to all accounts and purposes, everything that a person could want in order to be happy, according to society’s blueprint in any case: a woman who loved him, a huge ranch in Los Angeles with horses and all sorts of animals, a blockbuster movie on his résumé, good looks and talent and yet, here was a man who, from different interviews, showed himself to be profoundly unhappy. In several interviews he was heard to say that he didn’t believe that he would ever be satisfied one day, that he didn’t believe that he would ever be happy. So despite all the stuff, despite having a great love in his life, despite the huge success, despite the heaps of money, Patrick Swayze was a very unhappy human being and the only explanation for that unhappiness was his thinking.
Sure, we can look at certain aspects of his life where things did not always turn out the way he would have liked but, even with taking that into account; we are left with the question, “Why would the negative aspects of his life have more impact than the positive? What swings the balance?” This brings us systematically back to the same answer – our thinking.
We think our way into happiness and we think our way into unhappiness, it doesn’t work any other way.
If it were true that having all the material comfort, the money and the fame were what made us happy, then the number of people who have those very “things” and yet who are deeply unhappy should not exist; but Patrick Swayze was and is not alone in being one of those unhappy “rich” people.
On the opposite edge of the spectrum, there are those who have very little or nothing and yet who are very happy and at peace.
The point is, we all have aspects of our lives that we like and appreciate more or less, things we want and things we don’t want, but if our thinking swings towards the things that we don’t have then we are often left with a feeling of something missing, that somehow our lives are incomplete, not fully successful. When we see that we are creating that feeling ourselves, we can let it go.
Now, I’m not saying that we have to be happy in all circumstances, far from it, if we suffer some kind of loss, it’s natural and human to feel “bad” about that. But our society has taught us so much that we must be happy at all costs, so that when things don’t go quite the way we would want we find ourselves in an almost inescapable syndrome of trying to control the outcome so that we don’t feel those negative emotions.
But here’s the thing; thought is a navigation tool that gives us the directions for navigating through our emotional and physical environment. Feeling bad, for whatever reason, is as natural as feeling good for whatever reason; as such there is no reason why we should find feeling bad so unacceptable, after all we never attempt to chase away the “good” feelings, we never ask ourselves “how long are they going to last?” we never fear that they may be permanent, we take those feelings as they are and we don’t think much about them, yet as soon as we feel bad… it’s a completely different story and the more we try to rid ourselves of those negative emotions, the stronger an impact they ultimately have on us.
This is true for absolutely every single human being on earth, no matter who they are, how much money they have, how much “success” they have… we all think and we all feel.
So What’s the Point of Success If It Doesn’t Make You 100% Happy?
Well, it all depends how you define success, as success can only have the meaning that we give to it. For some people success is having stacks of money in their bank account, for another person that could be meeting the partner of their dreams, for yet another that could be having a beautifully flowered garden, for someone else that could be travelling the world. Whatever you define as success becomes your belief of what success is.
But if we go back to the fluidity of thought, whatever you happen to define as success today may well turn out to be something completely different further down the line. We may even regret past choices even if they have brought us the things that we initially had hoped for.
For example, a woman who had trained and worked for more than thirty years as a classical musician who, practically overnight, made the decision to put her instrument in its box and follow a completely different path that had nothing to do with the training that she had been so determinedly and ardently pursuing. One thought was all it took for her to make the decision to no longer chase the success that she had been hoping for in her initial domain of work. Suddenly all of the “failures” and “successes” that she had experienced over that period of time paled into insignificance. Because she was no longer running after success in that domain, what she had originally defined as success no longer existed and therefore, none of what she had previously so keenly thought-felt about herself with regards to that domain held any importance.
One thought is all it takes to change your life and how you experience it. Realizing that, is all that is necessary in order to become aware that what we think about ourselves is mere illusion.
For there are several problems with our search for success: our tendency to base our happiness on a future outcome; the creation of feelings of failure if we don’t reach our goals. But the most troublesome is the idea that somehow this success or failure defines who we are as human beings and that the meaning of our lives lies outside of us in a projected image that we send out in the hope that we are liked, that we fit into the mould, that we are appreciated and recognized for what we do. Moreover, if, despite all our efforts, we never achieve being liked, fitting in, and never receive the appreciation and recognition, we end up feeling of no value as human beings, as if the fact that we miraculously burst into form from the formless was not enough value in itself.
You see, the fact is, because we are the ones defining what success is through our own thinking, we are literally making it up as we go along. There is no cosmic law book that says that success is “such and such;” when we realize that, we realize that what we think about success is completely an illusion.
So What Is Success If It’s Just An Illusion?
One of my favourite jokes is the “Five Most Illustrious Jews”
The first was Moses, he said “Everything is Law”
The second was Jesus, he said “Everything is Love”
The third was Freud, he said “Everything is Sex”
The fourth, Marx, he said “Everything is Money”
The fifth was Einstein, he said “Everthing is Relative!”
I recently had a discussion with an ambulance/fireman who, almost apologetically, told me that he had given up law school to follow a career that he felt was more important.
The apologetic tone was because, according to society’s rules, giving up a promising career as a wealthy lawyer when you “have the brains to do so” to go become an ambulance/fireman and earn maybe only a quarter or a third of the salary really doesn’t make any sense; it’s what is thought to be failure. But this man hadn’t failed; he had simply made a choice, a choice made out of inspiration and vocation but when he told me, he was clearly expecting the “why on earth would you give up law school?” question.
Instead, I said that I really admired his choice, that people in his profession save other people’s lives and that, to my way of thinking, there is nothing quite so beautiful as being in a profession where you sincerely care so much about your fellow human beings.
His modest reply was that he didn’t save lives, it’s really the doctors who do that, so I told him what I had seen just a few days earlier:
While on the road, I came across possibly one of the worst car accidents that I’ve ever seen, so bad that I got my children, who were in the car with me, to get down on the floor so that they wouldn’t witness the scene.
The ambulance/firemen were already there and as we drove slowly past this is what I saw. One of the injured was laying in the grass, over him was an ambulance/fireman determinedly giving this injured person CPR, there were no doctors on site, but this ambulance/fireman was not going to give up on this person’s life. Every time he pressed down on that injured person’s chest, you could feel that he was willing that person to live. He wasn’t thinking, “gosh, if I save this person’s life I’ll be a hero” – he wasn’t thinking about any kind of outcome or personal success, there was only an almost palpable sense of purpose; every time he pressed down on that injured person’s chest in an attempt to save that person’s life was a moment of success.
As we drove away from the scene, I burst into tears, not just because of the carnage, which was awful, but mostly because of that moment of true humanity and love that I had witnessed where one human being forgot himself in order to save another.
You see, success is not what is going to happen a year from now, it’s not the film you’re going to make, the book you’re going to write, the money you’re going to earn, the job you’re going to have, the reputation and recognition that you may or may not gain – success is not in the future, success is right now in this moment with each step forward in life that you are taking right at this very instant… Success is living with that simple sense of purpose in every moment, that is where true happiness lies, not in past memories, not in future possibilities that may or may not occur, but right now, in this present moment because right now in this present moment, whatever you think your life might look like, you are, at the core of your being, fundamentally okay.
Now I am not saying that you should not have ideals or goals or things that you would love to accomplish; I am saying that when you are in a space in your mind where you are able to clear those extraneous thoughts of how things will be or how you want things to be, that all is left is a space for creation and in that space for creation you will find your sense of purpose and your vocation and vocation has nothing to do with fame nor fortune.
When we are coming from that place where our ego is no longer involved, where future outcomes and financial gain are neither what defines us as human beings nor what we base our happiness on, where we are able to tap into the source of creation and inspiration in the moment, that which gives us our sense of purpose as human beings, then we find ourselves in a space where we are more likely to accomplish what we set out to do.