M Scott Peck, author of the Road Less Travelled And Beyond writes “The biggest lie…..is that we’re here to be happy all the time.” and that “The truth is that our finest moments, more often than not, occur precisely when we are uncomfortable, when we’re not feeling happy or fulfilled, when we’re struggling and searching.”
Wow….as you know, I’m a big believer in the Aristotelian view (still shared today by many thought leaders and philosophers) that the purpose of life is indeed to be in pursuit of a happy, flourishing and prosperous life. So as I read M Scott Peck’s reference to “The biggest lie” I’m sure you would expect me to jump up and defend my position.
My truth is that I agree with Peck – well, maybe not the biggest lie bit (I actually found that to be rather extreme), however, I believe that being in the pursuit of happiness doesn’t mean that we ought not put ourselves into uncomfortable situations and in situations where we might struggle and search for meaning. These indeed (as Peck writes) may be some of our finest moments.
When my son Anthony invited me to do a tandem sky dive with him I can certainly tell you that it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. From the moment the doors opened at 14,000ft and while strapped on to a complete stranger and having no control over what was about to happen, this stranger quickly shuffled toward the open door of the plane and pushed me out….it wasn’t a peaceful and exhilarating sky dive – it was a push and fall flat out for 60 seconds at 200 kilometres per hour before the parachute opened.
When asked by the stranger who pushed me out of the plane when we safely arrived back on the earth (and my legs just didn’t want to respond to my mind saying STAND UP MAN), “So Dave, what was the best part of that?” My reply was “Right now – being safely back on ground.”
OK, so judge me as you will, however, I was terrified and although I am glad I did it with my son to share that experience, I did not enjoy the experience. However, in my pursuit of living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life I am so happy that I did experience it. It has added to my life, not taken away from it (thankfully I lived to tell the tale).
I certainly don’t believe it possible to be happy “all the time”. The 9th inescapable truth for a prosperous life in the Intentionomics Blueprint is “It’s your intentional choice”. When we make our decisions and our choices on the actions we are going to take, we need to tap into our intentions for each life role as part of that intentional choice and decision making process. My intention for my son Anthony is that he live a happy, flourishing and prosperous life. Although being pushed out of a plane at 14,000ft strapped to a complete stranger was not ever on my radar of life experiences, when Anthony asked me to share the experience with him, my intention for my life role as a father kicked in immediately…..of course I would jump with him because my bigger WHY (the reasons behind my intentional actions) is that I if my son is happy that will add to my own happiness.
So thank you M Scott Peck – I too think that the ‘happy movement’ can sometimes hijack meaningful and mindful discussion around what the pursuit of happiness really means….although I do still think “the biggest lie” is a bit of a stretch.
Join the conversation – let me know what you think.