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Two roads to happiness — which will you choose?

There are two roads to happiness and I've tried them both. Here is my personal report.

The first way, which is by far the most common and well-traveled, is the way of struggle, effort and sacrifice intermingled with joy. You see what you think will make you happy, you create a goal or aspiration of some kind -- and you go after it with all the strength you have.

The trouble with the first approach is that no matter how dedicated we may be, we never quite seem to "arrive." For example, perhaps we finally take the cruise we've dreamed about. Or we notice that our bank account has reached $1 million, or perhaps $1 billion.

There is a glow all right. We taste a little bit of the nectar of happiness. But then where does the glow go? If happiness is based in some kind of external activity or pursuit or accomplishment, it doesn't last. It's like an addiction. We have to pick up the search for happiness again -- and if we're not careful, it can all get quite tiring and frustrating.

I dreamed of writing a bestseller

For example, I’ve been a writer all my life, and for a long time -- in fact until quite recently -- I dreamed of writing a bestseller that would change my life forever.

I loved this dream. I cherished it. I remember very well the day it started. I was a kid of 7 or 8 in the early days of the blitz in London when one day, for some reason -- without any nudging from my parents or anyone else -- I suddenly decided to write a story in a large scrapbook someone had given me.

Oh my. How exciting it was to let that story unfold in my imagination, and how excited my parents were too, when I finished scribbling away and showed my story to them.

My life took various twists and turns. I worked as a reporter on newspapers and magazines. I worked as a weekly newspaper editor. I wrote 4 or 5 books while I was a member of a spiritual community in British Columbia. But my dream to one day write a best-selling book was like a beacon always shining in the back of my mind, promising a new life of greater happiness and fulfillment.

Then one day everything changed

But then one day everything changed. It changed because I changed. There's nothing wrong with having goals and dreams and aspirations, of course. It's what gets us out of bed in the morning.

But sometime over the last few years, without even realizing it to a large degree, this lifelong dream of being a famous writer gradually faded away.

It faded away because one day I finally surrendered to the truth of my existence, and realized that who I truly am is already happy, and already free. I am a masterpiece, just as you, too, are a masterpiece.

The way less traveled

It's the way "less traveled," and it waits for us all, the simple realization that we do not need to search for happiness or fulfillment or stature anymore. But simply let the timeless masterpiece that we are be revealed and expressed more clearly in each moment of existence.

We realize that it's not really a case of adding something to us that we don't already have, it's more a case of removing the coverings that to whatever degree, obscure the beauty of who we truly are.

One of the privileges of aging is surely the opportunity to realize ever more deeply and fully the beautiful happiness that already exists at the core of our being, just waiting to be shared with a world hungry for true guidance and inspiration.

Any thoughts on this article you'd like to share?  I'd love to receive them. Blessings and best wishes. And lastly...

Announcing a lollapalooza of a sale

My dictionary describes a lollapalooza as “A late 19th century/early 20th century American idiomatic phrase meaning an extraordinary or unusual thing.”

I think lollapalooza describes very well a blazing humdinger of a personal development sale that starts today and that I’m happy to help publicize. As you can see, I’m throwing my English reserve to the winds here because I think this sale really does offer extraordinary value in these difficult times.

Sponsored by Karol and Baker of the Only72 Project, the sale runs for 72 hours until Thursday and offers $1087 worth of top quality personal development products for $97.

Not a bad deal, especially if these products can significantly upgrade your life – which I really think they can. I don't know all the participants but I know a number of them -- and the quality of product and spirit they bring to their world is very impressive indeed.

Here’s the complete lineup of products being offered in this sale:

 

Focus by Leo Babauta ($35)

  • The full version of the book, including bonus chapters, in PDF, EPUB, and AZW
  • An email fast guide (PDF)
  • A decluttering quickstart guide (PDF)
  • A guide to changing habits
  • 3 Audio Interviews
  • 5 videos

 

Momentum Kickstarter Kit by Charlie Gilkey ($47)

  • Living the Good Life (PDF)
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Reclaim Your Dreams by Jonathan Mead ($47)

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52 Weeks to Awesome by Pace & Kyeli ($52)

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5 Ingredients | 10 Minutes by Jules Clancy ($77)

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Rebel Fitness Guide by Steve Kamb ($37)

  • Rebel Fitness Guide (40-page PDF)
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Fear-Crushing Travel Guide by Farnoosh Brock ($47)

  • Fear-Crushing Travel Guide (113-page PDF)
  • 7 Fear-Crushing Travel Worksheets
  • 10 Audio Interviews with experienced world travelers
  • Bonus: The Master Travel Preparation Tip Sheet

Overcoming the Fear of Uncertainty by Sean Ogle ($47)

  • Overcoming The Fear of Uncertainty Guide (15,000 words)
  • Using Mint.com to Change Your Life (7,000 words)
  • Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog
  • 5 Interviews, including Chris Guillebeau and Pam Slim
  • Worksheets, review sheets, questions, answers, and a remote work agreement template

The Creativity Toolbox by Ali Luke & Thursday Bram ($47)

  • Mapping Your Project: The Big Picture and the Details (22-page PDF)
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  • 7 interviews
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Make Sh*t Happen by Jenny Blake ($47)

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The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis ($67)

  • Language Hacking Guide in PDF, ePub, Mobi, and printer-friendly
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Sex, Love, Liberation by Ev'Yan Nasman ($47)

  • Sex, Love, Liberation: A manifesto for the bold at heart (61-page PDF)
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Learn More, Study Less by Scott Young ($67)

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A Daring Adventure collection by Tim Brownson ($47)

  • How to be Rich and Happy (215-page PDF)
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  • 16 Ways to Destress Your Life (34-page pdf)

The Less Work, More Harmony Relationship Guide by Cara Stein ($47)

  • 25 PDf modules (96 pages, 38,000+ words)
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Brilliantly Better Collection by Dragos Roua ($43)

  • Natural Productivity (156-page PDF)
  • 100 Ways to screw up your life (109-page PDF)
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How to Become an Advanced Early Riser by Steve Aitchenson ($37)

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  • Success Log to track your progress
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Cheap Family Fun by Kim & Jason ($52)

  • 52 weekly emails of ideas for free or very cheap fun
  • 52 short, entertaining videos

The Art of Relaxed Productivity + The Power of Positivity by Henrik Edberg ($44)

  • The Art of Relaxed Productivity (98-page PDF)
  • The Power of Positivity (132-page PDF)
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  • The Ultimate Guide to Motivation
  • 2 Workbooks
  • Audio Transcripts

Discover Package by Barrie Davenport ($59)

  • Discover Your Passion (116-page PDF)
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Mind Control Method: How to Get What You Want by Karol Gajda ($47)

  • Mind Control Method (37-page PDF)
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Sell Your Crap by Adam Baker ($47)

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  • 10 Video Interviews with Anti-Clutter authors and bloggers, including Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, and J.D. Roth
  • So there you are. This is your chance to purchase over $1000 worth of potentially life-changing books and courses for less than $100 by clicking right here. Please note I will receive a commission on any purchase you make.

Picture credit:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4069/4387546703_2a8f532da1.jpg

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda @ 36broadway June 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

This is a fantastic point of view, I think each and every one of us make tiny choices each day that direct us toward one road or the other. It is perplexing to me to think how so many people over so many lifetimes have lived through a life of mainly struggle to reach material or unattainable goals. That is certainly not for me! Thanks for a little ‘a-ha’ moment for me today.

Reply

Christopher Foster June 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Thank you Amanda. Great to hear from you. You make such a valuable point that it is our tiny everyday choices that determine the path our life will take. Every good wish.

Reply

Phil D. Malmstrom June 22, 2011 at 7:11 am

Amen Christopher.

Most of us, from youth on, are taught that happiness is achieved through a formula of hard work, struggle, gain and finally contentment. While these things are certainly worthwhile and there’s nothing wrong with setting and achieving goals, true happiness can never be reached through material gain. Each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14), and if we can get in touch with that Holy Nature we find that happiness doesn’t come from external sources, but from the Spirit within us.

Thank you for a beautiful post my friend. 🙂

Have a Blessed Day!

Reply

Christopher Foster June 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

Yes Phil, such a huge realization of which you speak. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and when we begin to get in touch with that abiding truth within us all — what a discovery we make. We don’t have to do anything to try to manufacture happiness for ourselves, the happiness is already there.

I’m always so thankful when you come to visit here. Thankyou so much for taking the time to share your beautiful thoughts and wisdom. Blessings.

Reply

Keith June 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Christopher,

You discuss here a topic of supreme importaance. Seriously, this precept is the key stone to a fulfilled life.
Like you, I traveled that well worn path of toil and struggle. I had adapted the mind set of “Success, and therefore happiness, is based strictly upon how bad I want it and how hard I work to get it”. How many years did I postpone joy, peace and happiness as I tread that path? Thankfully, I became aware of the fact you speak of jere. That no amount of goal-reaching, money or success will ever make me happy, because happiness must always come from within.

Thank you, Christopher, for bringing this back to the forefront of my thoughts today.

Reply

Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) June 22, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Chris, this post is a beautiful reminder to bring our attention inward and step out of the cycle of desire and acquisition. What we find is everything we ever wanted and more. Who would have ever thought so much happiness was possible.

Your words literally ring true and wake us up to recognize that happiness is available, right here and now, effortlessly. Thank you.

Reply

Christopher Foster June 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

Gail, bless you and thank you. It’s a particular joy of blogging, isn’t it, the potential of finding new friends — true friends — we otherwise might never have met. A real pleasure to walk this road of life with you.

Reply

Joe Wilner June 23, 2011 at 6:19 am

Christopher,

It is true that goals and aspirations can keep us going and make us proud, but will not provide lasting and enduring happiness. Happiness can come when we are willing to embrace the present and stop always striving for something we don’t have. A very difficult thing with the level of conditioning society produces.

I think we need to have aspirations though be content through the process and not be attached to the outcome. A tough balance to keep.

Reply

Christopher Foster June 23, 2011 at 11:11 am

Great thoughts Joe. It is a tough balance to keep. I’ve found this an interesting one re my blog, I want it to succeed, for sure — and yet I know can’t get TOO invested in its success or I would lose a bit of myself. A fine line to tread.

Reply

The Vizier June 24, 2011 at 8:48 am

Hi Christopher,

The search for happiness is something that everyone thinks about. As such, reading your experiences with both paths is enriching as it helps us to see the bigger picture and realize the true source of happiness. While it is important to have goals to live our lives fully, we should not forget that true happiness comes from within. By being aware of this, we can live life more fully, productively and treasure our loved ones as well.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier

Reply

Christopher Foster June 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

It’s always a deep pleasure to silently shake hands with you Irving. Thanks for taking the time to contribute these words and share your beautiful spirit with us. Every good wish. Stay strong.

Reply

Debbie @ Happy Maker June 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

Hi Christopher,

You are right, happiness is always there for us. We just have to see it to enjoy it. I realized what happiness was when I was really struggling with 3 kids to take care of.

It is not what we have, but the people in our lives. When we leave this world what is important is the memories we leave that others hold from us touching their lives. My goal is to touch others lives in a positive way and leave them with wonderful memories, by removing that cover on myself and just being who I am meant to be.

Thank you for a wonderful article and blessing to you. Life is wonderful!
Debbie

Reply

Christopher Foster June 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

Life is wonderful Debbie. My whole heart thrilled when I read your words. What more could we hope for than the privilege of touching others’ lives in a positive way and being the unique being we truly are. Blessings to you and take care.

Reply

Ken Wert June 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

Great post, Christopher!

It seems to me that every decision we make in life is a choice of paths we choose to travel. Some paths are inconsequential: do I follow the path of Crest or Colgate? Who cares? Some are life-changing: Do I stay in school or drop out? Do I marry her or do I move on? Do I start blogging or do I just keep reading?

I’m happy for you, Christopher, that you came to the discovery that pursuing a previous goal was not necessary for your happiness.

Here’s how I look at it: Happiness should be a reflection of how we live and how we think, our character and spirit and mind — all internal states of being. If it is tied to wealth or position or prestige or any other external condition or achievement, then we have a conditional and context-oriented happiness. When the context changes, our happiness does too. And to my mind, that’s not what happiness is. Happiness is a state, a durable condition of the soul, a reflection of an inner quality, an abiding internal context of who we are, rather than what we do or how much we’re paid for doing it.

But having said that, I also believe that we can be happy AS we pursue and sacrifice for worthy goals. There is something potentially expansive or enlarging to the soul when we reach beyond our capacity — because in the reaching, we grow. We learn. Our reach becomes longer the next time. We can learn things about ourselves in the struggle and about life as well.

Of course, all this depends on what we are doing internally all the while.

I’m glad I found you, Christopher. We share the same niche. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say about so important a topic!

Wishing you an amazing day!

Reply

Christopher Foster June 24, 2011 at 11:38 am

I’m glad I found you too Ken. Thanks for a super comment.

You express yourself so clearly and I do so agree with you on both counts. True happiness is not dependent on external changes but flows from an inner quality or context. And yet when we engage fully with life and are willing to learn and grow and change . . to expand our experience of ourself — despite inevitable discomforts, life rewards us. I hope we’ll be in touch again and send you every good wish.

Reply

Sibyl June 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Christopher: What a beautiful message. It really is so true that we are already complete and the sooner we realize that, the more we will really be able to live life to the fullest and know what we really aren’t in need of anything but that understanding. I loved this post and message.

Reply

Big Zen June 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

This is such an important point that happiness does not come from external circumstance. I think effort and comittment are still needed but happiness comes from applying ourselves to inner transformation. Thanks for posting.

Reply

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