Most people think they’ll feel good once they reach some goal. They think happiness is out there somewhere, perhaps not even too far away, but out there all the same. The problem with putting off feeling good about yourself until you hit a certain goal is that it may never happen. And you know all the time you’re striving for it that it may never happen. So, by linking your happiness to something you don’t have yet, you’re denying your power to create happiness for yourself.
A lot of people use personal unhappiness as a tool, as proof of their own sincerity and compassion. Yet, as Barry Kaufman points out eloquently in To Love Is to Be Happy With, being unhappy is not necessary. You can be happy and also be sincere. You can be happy and also become passionate. In fact, loving someone while you are unhappy does not show up like love at all.
“Love,” says the great American spiritual teacher, Emmet Fox, “acts the part.” Song writer Fred Knipe talked to me recently about how we human beings have learned to use and abuse unhappiness—he said he had made a list for me of the secret reasons why people think they should feel bad.“If I feel bad, then that proves I am a good person,” he said. "Or, if I feel bad, I am responsible. If I feel bad, I’m not hurting anybody. If I feel bad, it means that I care. Maybe if I feel bad, it proves I’m being realistic and aware. If I feel bad, it means I’m working on something."That list gives us powerful motivation to be unhappy. But as Werner Erhard (personal transformation pioneer) has always taught in his well-known test seminars, happiness is a place to come from, not to try to go to.
I once saw Larry King interviewing Werner Erhard by satellite fromRussia, where Erhard was living and working. Erhard had mentioned that he might be moving back to the United States soon, and Larry King asked him if coming home would make him happy. Erhard paused uncomfortably, because in his view of life nothing makes us happy. He finally said, "Larry, I am already happy. That wouldn’t make me happy, because I come from happiness to whatever I do."Your happiness is your birthright. It shouldn’t depend on your achieving something. Start by claiming it and using it to make your self-motivation fun all the way and not just fun at the end.