February 8 2021

What is the actual reality of success? What really makes us happy?

We see the so-called successful, and want emulate them. But we don’t know how they feel, do we?

I imagine if your model was the Dalai Lama, or Tartang Tulku, you’d probably be on pretty solid ground. But those aren’t necessarily the types of people we emulate.

Is Danielle LaPorte happy? Is Pat Flynn? Maybe they are.

Everyone is editing down their presentation to something that is exciting and palatable. We all have to edit out the part that doesn’t quite fit into the vision we want to present to people. How can we not? And yet, nothing is ever true, is it?

So there are a variety of situations going on here.

We project happiness and shiny-ness onto people based on what we want to see. We are always living in a bit of a mirage, in that sense. We mock this up, and we live in it. How do you know that that person with pearly white teeth, and a wide smile, is actually happy? What if that was a very studied smile? Dennie and I were speaking of this the other day; of some models I saw once having lunch in the Annapurna restaurant in Albuquerque. I knew they must have been models because when one of them held up a camera, they all instantly took on a certain pose with their bodies, and an expression, a kind of smile, that was so perfectly studied. It was extremely attractive, and they had completely changed. It was perfectly done.

Bhutan began measuring Gross National Happiness. We have begun to think about it in our business—how do you help people begin to consider what actually makes success? This is a deep question—and even asking it, even beginning to think about it, gives you lots of very interesting insights.

I am reading The Bullet Journal Method, and he quotes some of those studies of people on their deathbeds, and what was really important to them, in the end. They have perspective. The thing we all for the most part wish we’d had more of, by the end. When we pop out of one bubble, and can see the bigger picture. And of course, it’s never that we wish we had filed more TPS reports.

It is the ever-awakening realization: the struggle for success and power was meangingless, but the champion only realizes it when he reaches the top of the mountain, only to feel empty. We are all trying to tell the next person behind us “hey—you don’t have to fall into that trap”.

It’s an interesting thing—how does this work? —Each of us wants to protect the others from making the same mistakes, and yet it’s the mistakes that teach us. ….All the same, if we didn’t keep learning from mistakes, we would presumably be in such a mess that we would not know which way was up at all. Is this like Ram Dass’s idea? —The world is perfect as it is, including our desire to improve it.

What this is really about is the very thing I was told when I first tried becoming an entrepreneur, sixteen years ago. I did not realize how wise it was, at the time: You must always start your business adventure with a picture of what you want from the adventure. Otherwise, you’ll easily pursue an illusion, a presumption, and assumption.

Our filters are all off. Fame looks attractive, but really isn’t. Even looking attractive, though it has many advantages, is not what it looks to be. Nothing is quite what it looks to be. The only way out is to refine our perceptions to become closer to reality. That is a life-long work, that starts by realizing how deep the illusion goes.

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© Alexander Feller 2018