The “Pursuit of Happiness” Can Cause Unhappiness

You know, besides watching The Amazing Race or Entourage every Sunday night (with a big bowl of popcorn) with my partner-in-crime (the also amazing Heather), there’s nothing more exciting than helping folks wrap some grounded “common sense” around some pretty esoteric, deeply cerebral topics.

Just talking about (or pontificating on) any aspect of “manifestation” applies to the part of life where you’re spending more time “in your head” than experiencing something (NOTICE I put emphasis on talking for a reason. I’ll get to that in a second).

Yes, we intellectually-wired and thought-infused humans (which is most of us,  by the way) DO have to go through the process of proving to ourselves (even though our conscious Self doesn’t know it) that we can’t just read, wish, daydream, affirm, reprogram, meditate, or analyze our way into a life of happiness, success and prosperity.

And the reason I bring this point up — that RESULTS (actually EXPERIENCING what we think, imagine, and say we’re going to do or have) over talk matters — is because spiritual rhetoric and time-worn surface-level “feel good” (or “non-challenging”) precepts and mottos continue to proliferate the self-help arena at an alarming rate*

*Yes, we’ll readily agree, it’s mainly due to marketers out there — disguised as “evolved teachers” who give the impression of becoming that way due to some magical recipe that apparently nobody else has figured out — who package up their wares for the MASSES. Hint: they know how to tell you what you want to hear in ways that’ll make your mouth water.

Believing that you are effecting change or growth in others or yourself — because you don’t rock the boat, or because you ignore so-called “negative” or emotionally challenging “stuff”, or because you pursue lofty states like “bliss” or “happiness” — when you’re really just rolling along on the winds of emotional comfort and spiritual safety, is VERY DANGEROUS.

Click the link below to learn why…


Recently a client of ours, who has gone through more unfulfilled pursuits than a junk-food addict goes through bags of chips, just felt the need to hang it all up — to stop her interests in entrepreneurship. Even though she finally verbally admitted to us that she was spreading herself too thin across multiple businesses, she just figured she’d be better served to “explore happiness” (her words, not ours).

The first thing that came to mind, when hearing that, was: “Is that sorta like going after a good beer buzz?”

George Bernard Shaw once cautioned: “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

And, the rub around “happiness” — or more accurately said: the futile time spent in attempting to find somebody else’s SECRETS to HAPPINESS — is that it’s like trying to be in a constant state of orgasm. Hey, what a great state to be in, if you get it… and, if you’ve got nothing else to do or experience, huh?

But, like an orgasm that never leaves,  a happiness-high that extends its stay at your party can sorta cramp your lifestyle. After all, you’ve got places to go, people to see, more people to get to know, hobbies to pursue, and business to attend to.

In other words, “physical” life NOW!

In the comments to our May 23rd 2009 post, “Fake Happiness, Raw Growth, & The Next ‘Harry Potter,” one of our subscribers put full-spectrum living in perspective.

Azum writes:

It is true that the pursuit of happiness is something that can cause unhappiness. We live in a world which can generally be an awesome place too… but we are also subject to an infrastructure of forced social adaptation that is governed by advertising and collective trends. As human animals with an inherent need to belong and be part of a collective, it is easy to fall prey to socio-cultural definitions of happiness and success, and aimlessly pursue them to maintain appearances and status.”

Barry’s interpretation?

Simply this:  Like it or not, the “physical” world we play in at the moment  rewards us for PRODUCING — for discovering needs (yours, not just others’), helping fulfill them, and then starting the process all over again.

When we set out to search new territory (new ideas, new systems of belief, new knowledge, new ways of doing things) we discover. When we discover something new, we’re always in the position to TRY (attempt) something new.

Sometimes we have fun, and get results with it, and sometimes we don’t.

You see, to me, striving for a STATE of “happiness”, like the ever-elitist quest to pursue enlightenment, isn’t so much about “getting there” as it is actually being awake and content enough to enjoy the ride… a ride that will be smooth AND bumpy along the way.

For instance, if you were to STRIVE to “get to” an unfrazzled, almost emotionless state (like some yoga teachers we know) whenever you needed to express a so-called “unevolved emotion” that would assist you (like “concern” or “worry” that DO come in handy every now and then), you’d almost be like the “hypocritical Christian” who society labels as such because they think or occasionally do bad things.

Oh, but, as they say in the south: “He’s just backsliding a bit. He’ll pray more, he’ll talk to the Pastor and he’ll be firm again in his faith.”


Get over yourself!

Guess what…. life, in all its beauty and ugliness, never told you you’d always experience perfection. So, it sure the hell ain’t asking you to be it either.

We know of a teacher who has an ongoing EXCESSIVE battle with negativity. He literally views “negative thinking” as an abomination of the human condition.  Seriously, there was at one point a line on his sales page that read: “Negative thinking is THE primary source of all the diseases that afflict human beings.”

For whatever reason, this self-labeled “teacher” just wouldn’t accept that this his very Johnny Quest-like personal adventure is proliferating the very thing he’s trying so, so hard — and putting so, so much energy on — to avoid.

So, if you’ve read this far, I have a question for you:

Have you ever considered that “happiness”, just like the needless quest for “enlightenment”,  is simply an  “experience”, and NOT a permanent way of life?

To paraphrase Blair Warren, we don’t feel that somebody “gets” happy (or enlightened) like they get a tattoo, get a college degree or get married. Instead, it’s just an experience. It begins, it ends, and another one takes its place.

So yeah, it’s okay that you’re happy when you hold that sleeping newborn baby, and then frustrated when she starts crying incessantly — just like it’s okay that she’s content one minute and inconsolable the next.

To close, I wish upon you many “experiences” — ’cause, the more you have, the more vivid and responsive life becomes.

Oh, I almost forgot:

When it comes to teaching others how to tap into their INNER-WORLD to get better results in their OUTER-WORLD, these guys get it (they’re not into useless surface-level drivel like so many new, wannabe teachers of the mind are these days).

Your Partners in the Quest For
Living a Life Without Limits,

Barry Goss

P.S. No joke, Michael and Sean’s free 5-Part Manifesting Mini Course is better than most teachers’ paid flagship training. 😉

Filed under: Happiness / Fulfillment, Self Help Nonsense

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