I believe that at our core we share certain desires, for example, we all want to lead happy and successful lives. Where we differ is at the level of how we achieve that aim and that all depends on our outlook of the world. I fervently believe in the outlook that I call Truth Seeking and want to do my best to advocate that view to you as I believe that is the only perspective that leads to long term happiness.
By truth I don’t mean referring to a particular truth as in biblical truth, I actually mean the opposite. I’m talking being sensitive to what is around us and making what we believe fit with the evidence life gives us, rather than trying to fit the world into an outlook written in some book we believe to be sacred.
Lots of people seem to believe our success and happiness down to chance. That if the Gods smile upon you and make your wishes come true you’ll be happy. This kind of thinking is based in the idea that being happy is having everything go right for you.
I disagree and here’s why.
Why I Think You Should Seek Truth!
I think the best thing for you – and even for me though I may not think so at times – is for our dreams to be shattered!
Now that sounds ridiculous, but what I mean is that if from our little self-interested perspective, everything came right, we’d finally find out that our view of the world – including our dearest dreams – is misguided. We’d realise that we do not have sufficient grasp of the big picture to know what will make us happy. We don’t even know enough about ourselves to know what would make us happy.
It’s a bit like how a child might think poking his finger in the plughole is what he wants to do, yet we restrain him because we know it won’t lead to a positive outcome.
In the same way, it is in the struggle to make something come true, in picking up the pieces of our broken heart or in making sense of bitter disappointment that we learn about ourselves and life. It is this that develops a stronger and more aligned relationship with what we see as us and how we understand the process of life.
When things don’t go right – by which I mean what I want to happen, doesn’t happen – the childish part of me wants to stamp my feet and wave my fist at the sky. However the more reflective part of me, later sees the perfection in my disappointment. Because ultimately I gain a greater gift; either something that works better than my plan or an insight that I can benefit from forever.
The Gift Of Failure
It is like the promising Artist or Sportsperson who wants to be acclaimed as a Genius at the start of their career, but instead suffer humiliation and failure. It is that experience drives them to become better and better, which in time leads them to authentically become the Genius. Praise and recognition is nice, but what is even greater is the internal metamorphosis that happens in the developmental process of becoming.
Yet receiving the acclaim without the disappointment may have given a misguided evaluation of their skill level and so stunted their growth.
Life is not about being born fully developed and enjoying the rewards of privileged birth. It’s about being challenged, stretched and struggling. We learn nothing about ourselves lying in a hammock, sipping Pina Colada’s on an idyllic beach.
Life is like a long drawn out fortune hunt. It is with our face in the dirt, the energy drained from our body and a desperate need to push ourselves beyond our limit that we find those aspects of ourselves that we did not know existed.
People like Viktor Frankl show us that even in seemingly the most hopeless of situations there is hope. Stuck in Auschwitz Concentration Camp as a Slave Labourer he found meaning in suffering and later used the insight his experiences brought to counsel millions to live a happier and more meaningful life.
How can people that are starved, literally worked until they drop and grieving family members face death and still remain hopeful, while decades later so many of us with every advantage suffer from what Frankl called ‘Sunday Neurosis’.
“Sunday neurosis, that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”
The Challenge of The Twenty First Century
The greatest challenges our civilisation faces are not concerned with our health, economic well-being or our defence. Our greatest threat is ourselves and our untamed desires.
We live in what our forefathers could only have dreamed to be paradise. We have an endless variety and supply of food that would have been unimaginable… and now one of our biggest complaints is the size of our waistlines.
Imagine explaining people paying money to Weight Watchers to a tired and hungry Caveman!
Comparatively we live safe and secure lives. There are no roaming Sabre Toothed Tigers, no invading hordes raping and pillaging and no great plagues. Instead we live in warm, comfortable homes… and now we have epidemic levels of anxiety.
How would you explain anxiety treatments to a Native American as his land, freedom and life were being taken from him?
We have the freedom and opportunity to choose from thousands of interesting and meaningful careers that no other culture has ever known before… and yet we still ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ and dread Monday mornings.
You see, the problem is not a harsh world frustrating our happiness. The problem is we don’t really want, what we think we want. We don’t have the discipline to bypass our desire for instant gratification and so instead we suffer the physical manifestation of gluttony.
We have hid from fear, seeking to change what made us fearful, rather than face and confront our fears and so now we live with fear constantly chasing us.
In a world where our aspirations are driven by economically motivated marketing messages we have increasingly pursued our self-interest, and instead have found a core, devoid of meaning.
Meaning does not come from the manifestation of our limited imagination, like a child’s play world with Dolls. Meaning comes when we say ‘Yes’ to life. When we take the bumps and bruises, allow our ego to be shattered and become transformed into something we would never have chosen, yet find fits us better than we could have imagined.
Yes Or No To Life? You Choose
Ultimately there is only one choice or a happy life.
When we say ‘No’ to life as the Comfort Seeker, we find the discomfort chases us like a snowball rolling down a hill so that we are forever running from ever increasing pain.
When we say ‘No’ to life as the Power Seeker insists on his own version of reality, we find that our resources are tested again and again until they are found insufficient and our illusion of being Master of the Universe crashes into reality.
It is only when we say ‘Yes’ to life without qualification, when we make sense of life only in accord to a dynamic relationship with what we see and experience and not in relation to some dead, stale text that presumes to disregard our living, breathing inner wisdom that we live as a Truth Seeker.
A Truth Seeker does not ask others to change, does not blame, coerce or seek control. Her meaning and reality is constantly updating and adapting, like a GPS finding the way to happiness. The Truth Seeker adapts to whatever environment he finds himself in.
While all around Comfort and Power Seekers believe and feel as though they are at the mercy of others, who in saying or doing things that they do not like or by their manner, make them feel bad,
‘They made me feel…’
‘She makes me so mad…’
The Truth Seeker instead looks for how they can modify their perspective to align with what is.
‘What about this is making me feel…?’
‘Why is she making me so mad?’
The reality is that when we are passive of our attention, in our default state, when we don’t take conscious control over our emotions and what we believe to be true, we get swayed along by more powerful influences.
However it does not have to be the case. We are the ones with control of our emotions. When we decide we are in control of our reality, no-one can ever make us believe or think anything without our consent.
A Truth Seeker will never let anyone else be responsible for what they believe or feel.
People can pick you up and put you in places. They can force you to go to school, put you in prisons and concentration camps etc, but they can never control what you believe or how you feel.
Only you get to decide that!