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Will Getting What You Want Make You Happy?

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“Forget your ideas of good and bad, forget your ideas of right or wrong, forget this Course, and come with empty hands unto your God.” A Course in Miracles
 
Most of us are often tempted to think that getting what we want will make us happy. Even though upon reflection we can recall perhaps hundreds of our own personal experiences where we have desired something, brought it into manifestation and were either displeased with the ultimate result, nonplussed, bored or maybe just not gratified in any deep way and we were on to the next thing.
 
As a life coach for women and female celebrities around the world, many of my clients initially reach out to me because they want help attaining their dreams and desires. Honestly, I have nothing against setting goals or utilizing vision boards or treasure maps to make our ideas clearer to us and more concrete. However, one of the founders of modern day life coaching, Thomas J. Leonard, possibly wrote it best (when you really understand the principles of attraction): “Goals become optional, something to orient around rather than to strive for.”
 
When I discovered A Course in Miracles in 1992 it offered me some profound respite from what felt like an exhausting addiction to achieving. Probably, like many of you reading this, I found that the relationships, degrees, strides in physical fitness, trips and wealth never sated me for long. I was always chasing the next best thing.
 
The founders of the school of Positive Psychology would tell us that we are not meant to ever be “done” in terms of our personal development. This is good news in that it helps us to know that when we are tempted to think that “If I can just have this happen, I will be happy” this will not be true from a psycho-biological standpoint. Our brains wish us to continue to move forward and grow. While acknowledging this fact, Dr. Paul Pearsall, the author of Toxic Success: How to Stop Striving and Start Thriving offers us the concept of “sweet success” which teaches us to enjoy the manifestation of our desires in a gentle, deliberate and present way.
 
For me, the biological desire to develop met with the cultural belief that we should achieve in all areas of our life, striving for excellence if not perfection, wore me out. I never really enjoyed the sweet moments. I was the type that would be planning my next vacation from a wonderful vacation spot I was already on.
 
The Course helped me to see very clearly that happiness is not the absence of problems or challenges, nor is happiness derived from one’s keen and clever ability to make manifest desires, no matter how grand. The Course doesn’t teach that desire is wrong; instead it offers us ways to get off the spinning wheel of our own fixed agenda and dogmatic beliefs and practices.
 
Initially, this was cold comfort to the control freak that I was. When I realized that my happiness wouldn’t be attained from my manic manipulations, I recalled a former boyfriend warning me about the dangers of striving. “Was he mad?” I wondered at the time. “For goodness’ sake, if you aren’t striving, then what in the world are you doing?” I remembered thinking.
 
The Course offers us a place to rest our exhausted head which is often filled with rigid and stress filled ideas. In A Course in Miracles, Jesus offers “By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance.” In the vernacular of adolescents of today, the idea of consciously offering the Christ our agenda with the wish to see truth, we finally get that often much needed “chill pill.”
 
When I work with clients who are just beginning to study the Course, they wonder how and why forgiveness is given so much emphasis. Forgiveness often seems unrelated to issues at hand. For example, “How is forgiveness related to weight loss or self confidence?” they wonder. “Why is forgiveness so fundamental and ultimately so pivotal to our walk in life?” And, “How is forgiveness related to the treadmill of desire and achievement?”
 
The Course tells us that “The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have.” In other words, truly, we lack nothing; not thin thighs and not self worth. Stressed out striving becomes obsolete when we realize what is ultimately true.
 
We needn’t be running around in a mad and frantic search to be complete by attaining more experiences, having more and chasing happiness. We know we are whole and complete when we acknowledge we are already in sacred communion and are at one with God. The Course tells us ”Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation.” You don’t need anything more to be happy when you realize and integrate the knowledge that you are complete just as you are.
 
Jeanine Marie Austin, Ph.D. © 2009

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