The Paradox of Results (#860)

Today’s tip is excerpted from my new book, The Inside-Out Revolution. To read more excerpts, including the foreword by Dr. George Pransky, click here and follow the instructions on the page!

Before I gained some insight into the inside-out nature of experience, I used to assume that conditions and circumstances had inherent emotional feelings attached to them. Trading in volatile financial markets or working in an ER were inherently high-pressure, high-stress jobs. Getting what you want would always make you happy. Being rich and thin meant you would be confident.Because the creative power of Thought was largely invisible to me, I attributed my feelings (and everyone else’s) to what I could see around me. And that innocent and seemingly innocuous misunderstanding is what actually lies beneath almost every problem we have in our life.

  • Because we think our happiness comes from getting what we want, we pursue our goals at the cost of our relationships, our health, and our spiritual well-being. When we get what we want and we’re still not happy, we assume the problem is that we’re still not doing enough, so we push even harder and end up even further away from the experience of happiness we actually want.
  • Because we think that our sadness comes from being on our own, we make ill-founded choices about the people we get into relationships with. Then, when we think our anger and frustration are coming from our partner, we try to change them or swap them for a different model instead of looking to Thought as the source of our experience.
  • Because we think that our fear is causally linked to certain life circumstances, we do everything we can to avoid and/or protect ourselves from those circumstances.

Yet the moment we see that every feeling is just the shadow of a thought, we stop being scared of our feelings and just feel them.

We begin to value ‘negative’ feelings as much as positive ones for the insights they give us into our state of mind and how real our reality is looking to us at any given moment. And because life doesn’t look so scary, we don’t work so hard to make it fit the idealized pictures in our head. We relax and begin to enjoy ourselves more. We’re free to express more of our natural creativity and well-being.

This is why one of the biggest shifts that people make when they begin seeing the inside-out nature of experience is from being primarily results oriented to being more inner directed. It’s not that results no longer matter – it’s just that those results stop validating or invalidating our value and worth in the world. Ironically, this ‘take it or leave it’ attitude toward results makes it easier than ever to create them.

When we take the pressure off ourselves to produce results at any cost and instead rest in our innate well-being, enjoying our life, following our wisdom, and looking within for a deeper understanding of how it all works, things often seems to unfold more beautifully than we could ever have imagined. We start to notice all sorts of synchronicities and serendipities, and outcomes that may have eluded us for years begin to happen seemingly ‘all by themselves.’

Yet the moment the results we’ve been waiting for start to show up, we become tempted to throw ourselves right back into the outside-in, action-oriented paradigm that makes creating specific results seem to matter more than our overall experience of being alive. If we succumb to the illusion, we take ourselves out of the foundational, formless space from which those results have been effortlessly created.

And this raises a very interesting question:

In a world where getting what we want may or may not lead to happiness, losing the big game doesn’t have to hurt, and other people don’t have the power to make us happy or miserable (even if they’re related to us), how do we know what course to set in life?

Since ‘there’ isn’t inherently better than ‘here,’ the direction we head in becomes almost as arbitrary as how long we give ourselves to get there.

Similarly, the idea of putting pressure on ourselves to strive for our goals now so that we can feel the rush of reaching them later is as bizarre and misguided a life strategy as hitting ourselves in the face because it feels good when we stop.

This points to what is perhaps our society’s most unproductive and ill-founded bias: the notion that happiness can only come via success and at the cost of struggle, stress, and sacrifice.

In other words, according to this poorly conceived mathematical equation:

Struggle + Stress + Sacrifice = Success = Happiness

or, to simplify it even further:

Unhappiness = Success = Happiness

which ultimately leaves us with the oxymoronic formula:

Unhappiness = Happiness

But when we begin to see that we’re the ones making up the conditions for our own success and happiness and then doing our best to fulfill them, it opens up the possibility of playing the game in a brand new way.

Have fun, learn heaps, and may all your success be fun!

With all my love,

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