Finding Your Own way to Success and Happiness
When we seek success and happiness in life and we are unsure of the next step, we tend to do what humans have always done throughout history, we look at what other people are doing. Maybe we will see why and how they are achieving success in this seemingly tangled web of ideas.
There’s nothing wrong with looking for advice and hoping for help from a successful person, so long as they are successful.
The trouble is, we can’t know what it is that we are looking at. Their success, or what we see, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real body of knowledge that they may hold as clues to our own success is hidden.
Carl Sagan reminded us that when we observe the universe we are only seeing an abstract portion of an object. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that he was spot on with his ideas about abstractions and odd shaped objects flying through the skies. He wanted us to know that what ever might be out there in the universe, we probably can only see parts of it — dimensions, space and time create distortions that send us half baked images of a whole idea.
Albert Einstein also believed that seeing things for what they really are was a very difficult thing to do. He actually stated that the universe is an illusion, but a very persistent one.
So, when I want to find out what I should do to be a successful coach, a successful writer and business person, then I should proceed with a cautious mind.
A while back, “modelling” successful people was the in-thing, In fact, I think it still is.
Modelling a person is about understanding as much as possible about their lifestyle and their methods as possible. It sounds logical that if it were possible to elicit their methods and motives, then your own results should be exactly the same in outcome.
The problem here is that it isn’t logical. There is so much hidden under the surface, so much unconscious activity happening in the person, that the outcome cannot possibly be the same for you or me.
Even the most articulate person who attempts to relate their principles of success will leave out big chunks of data that may well be essential components to success.
The thought here is that “the territory is not the map”.
Or, I prefer Alan Watts’ way of saying it, “The Menu is not the Meal”.
What we see in other people’s lives is not what will work for us. It is a small piece of data that we are able to perceive with our filtering brains, and our biased opinions.
Psychology recognizes the idea of abstracts and schema as a way that we see and organize our own worlds.
An abstract is a concept that we perceive in our environment, this in turn is filtered through our own bias views that we normally call belief systems or opinions. We are not seeing a whole body of ideas but a concept of an idea.
We have the ability to organize these concepts into hierarchical ideas that help us understand a more complex concept — or abstract idea.
When we attempt to model success, we use concepts that we can build into building blocks of ideas. None of these ideas can be viewed independently of our own already set concept of life and the environment. Experiences that we have had over the years are deeply influential on our way of perceiving another human being’s way of living and acting.
When people ask a successful person how they achieved so much, they listen. Especially listeners who are keen on achieving their own goals.
So the successful person says something like, “ I didn’t know anything about the business when I started, but I worked hard. Then I studied the ins and outs of the business, one day I got a contract and it led to another big contract. I worked on delivering quality and always believed in myself. That’s when I knew I’d be a success in this business.”
The listener then goes away thinking about this, maybe they read it on the internet, or they were at a conference. The content of what the successful person said is sparse. It’s all positive, and there is no mention of how they overcame obstacles or how long they worked hard. It sounds like they managed to become successful within a short period of time.
Because the information is sparse, the listener, me and you, will start to fill in the gaps in the narrative. That’s what human brains do when they instinctively know some of the information is missing. We do it unwittingly most of the time.
The narrative that we use to fill in the gaps often comes from our own system of beliefs — our schema. This schema helps us to build concepts that we can use as propositions, or arguments to defend our own views based on years of experience. We’re not going allow our present beliefs to be replaced by a foreign set of beliefs, so quickly.
Our brain is always in danger of being overloaded, so evolution has allowed us to develop the principles of deleting information, distorting information and generalizing information.
Hypnotists utilize this principle to cause hallucinations in a person’s mind. Positive hallucinations and negative hallucinations can be induced through manipulation of deleting, generalizing, and distorting how we perceive objects in the world and in our minds.
This is how a subject can be convinced through speech that they are the King of Egypt, or that they are the coolest person in the room. To witness hypnosis is mind-boggling, and opens up enormous questions about the human mind.
When we have listened to a successful person tell us about their success, we will immediately start to ask ourselves questions about how their experience fits into our own way of life.
Some listeners feel that they must make a compromise and give up all that they believe in order to elicit the successful ways of their role model; this can only lead to confusion and failure, simply because it won’t work that way.
Not to allow themselves to express their own faults and learn to master them, the attempt to step into the successful person’s shoes, and be them. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. But this is where the delete and generalization comes into play, to imagine that certain faults in their own thinking no longer exist, and to try and replace the empty space with a new persona can only lead to empty actions without heart.
Without self, and self realization, there can be no individual success in any venture.
The constant search for success is a generalization in itself. Ask ten people for a definition of success and they will all have a different narrative. A couple will talk of piles of money, some will mention owning objects and others will talk of values and choices as their idea of success.
When people speak about their own idea of success they are on the right track. Their own ideas are the success principles that they are seeking. Some of them are similar to other people’s ideas, that’s only because human beings have the same needs for shelter, love, food and security — we also have a great need for self-realization.
Self-realization is were happiness can be found. But it has to be worked at by the individual person, it must fit their own life and principles of behavior.
To follow others in the hope that they will lead the way to your success is to create a contradiction within your own mind. Their battles are not the same as your battles — different minds, different concepts.
To learn from others by reflecting on their behavior, watching how they deal with mistakes, and building concepts and structured ideas based on your own needs for a happier life, is more likely to lead to success — a path in life that is rewarding, and a way that is based on your own concept of the world.
To use your own experience and beliefs as the main stay of guidance in the search for success and happiness takes courage and faith in your own beliefs. The human mind is a wonderful thing, the universe offers us a clue to how we can use it in order to experience life in a meaningful way.