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January 17, 2010

Are YOU Making This Crucial Mistake?

“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

 

Goals are risky. Every time we set a goal, there’s the threat of failure–and failure can get personal. Our identity gets wrapped around what we do, and so we personalize our failures, which often leads to self-rejection.

 

In our desire for success, it’s easy to get caught up in the outcome. Our happiness gets tied to whether we win or lose, whether we achieve our goal or not.

 

Goals are outcomes—external events that we work towards, but don’t have full control over. Dreams are feelings—the reason we set goals.

 

In other words, we set a goal to win a game, get a raise, or buy a nice house because of how it will make us feel. It’s human nature to want to improve our ranking or status or have nicer things, because we expect those “improvements” will make us feel better in some way. They often do. In fact to truly live, we need to be continually challenged, in order to grow.

 

What often happens, however, is that we focus so hard on our goals that we neglect our dreams. Doing so gets us attached to what we want but can’t fully control, leaving us vulnerable to self-rejection. Thus we lose our power.

 

Understand this: We live simultaneously in two worlds.There’s the outer world of events and circumstances, people and places; and our inner world of thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams.

 

For most of us, the outer world dominates the inner. If we lose a game, take a pay-cut, or get a parking ticket, we feel bad. If we win a game, get a raise, or find $10 in our pocket, we feel good.

 

This happens because we have gotten attached to the outcomes of what we want. We let our outer world take over our lives, to the detriment of true peace, joy, and meaning.

 

This is the result of, as I’ll explain, the crucial mistake of confusing pleasure with beauty.

 

As humans, we experience the world through our senses—especially the eyes. What comes across our field of vision usually takes our thoughts in that direction. It’s an amazing gift to be able to touch and taste, smell, hear and feel. But our senses can lead us astray.

 

We all have a body that wants instant gratification. Can you ever think of a time when you didn’t want to feel good? Sometimes, however, we are able to delay our body’s desires for comfort, in order to achieve something greater in the future.

 

Consider Tiger Woods. He became the top golfer in the world through an incredible work ethic, up at 5am every day. Most of us, given the opportunity, would sleep in a bit later than that—unless we knew there was a great reward at the end.

 

Of course there was for Tiger, in the form of 14 major golf championships and hundreds of millions in endorsements and prize money. And, as we all know, along with all the fame and money, came very pretty girls who wanted in on the fun. Except that Tiger was married, with kids.

 

So every day he’s confronted with endless girls, easy on the eyes, yet hard-pressed for morals. Then one day he made a crucial mistake. Discipline, love, and ethics gave way to pleasure. And his life fell apart.

 

It’s the human pursuit to look for pleasure. But the human condition is one that easily gets ruled by feelings; a condition that easily mistakes pleasure for beauty. Pleasure is instant, beauty is eternal. Pleasure can be good or bad (at the expense of others, for example), while beauty is always good.

 

Beauty can be found everywhere: in good times and bad, in wins and losses, in life and in death. Beauty is truth. Beauty is love, wisdom, and courage all wrapped into one. Beauty is encountered each time you transcend your external world and connect with your true self—the part of you that’s also connected to peace and joy, love and life itself.

 

So what can you do?

Clarify your CP3 (Core: Purpose/Passion/Peace). What is your life’s purpose? What are you most passionate about? What gives you inner peace? Journal about why you are pursuing your goals. What will they give you? What will that give you?

 

Exercise: Write your obituary, if you were to die today. What would it say in your local paper? Then write one if, from here on out, you truly connected with your purpose, passion, and inner peace. What would your legacy be in that case?

 

Summary:

We live in two worlds, an inner and outer world. When we neglect the inner world where our heart resides, the outer world takes over and in the process we lose our power. In order to accomplish great things and live true to ourselves, we must pursue our goals while staying connected to our purpose, passion, and peace.

 

The Mistake:

Confusing pleasure with beauty. It can lead to self-rejection, one of life’s biggest obstacles. To confuse pleasure with beauty is to get attached to instant gratification and lose sight of what you really want—a meaningful, fulfilling life.

 

What to do: Clarify your core: purpose/passion/peace—and connect to it daily.

 

One last thing: Gratitude is a powerful energy that connects you to beauty and truth. Before you go to bed every night, think of five things that you’re thankful for. This will help your subconscious be more creative, allow you to sleep better, and lessen the chance that you’ll mistake pleasure for beauty.