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Goals That Make Us Happy

This show references an article in American Psychologist titled “Mental Balance and Well-Being – Building Bridges Between Buddhism and Western Psychology”. The idea of this talk is that goals, in and of themselves, are not bad things; but that choosing goals wisely is very important. When a sense of dissatisfaction is our reality how do we choose what goal to shoot for? What will make us happy and what will not?

What we are really looking for in life is stimulus free well-being. Science is proving that stimulus driven happiness doesn’t last. This is due to both the transient nature of things, and also our own mental imbalance and lack of understanding. Science is starting to see that true well-being comes from a state of mental balance that can be cultivated. We cultivate well-being in many ways, but the one idea that primarily fosters it is self knowledge and self awareness. Choosing to make well-being, and ultimately self awareness, our goal ends up being the goal that makes us happy.

This talk tries to explain the motion of desire, and our two choices. One choice is to satisfy the desire, and again science is showing us more and more that that doesn’t work in a lasting fashion. We always want more. The other thing to do is to make well-being our real goal. Once we realize that well-being comes from self awareness and mental balance, we can choose to examine the dissatisfaction when it arises. This doesn’t mean we don’t accomplish things or have external goals. It means we understand more and more clearly what really makes us happy and what does not.

Stimulus driven goals can be meaningful, but don’t lead to lasting happiness. Understanding this is a huge step toward greater wisdom and compassion in our lives. Examining our goals to see if they are stimulus driven can be an amazing exercise in helping us find happiness.

Referenced: American Psychologist

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/GoalsThatMakeUsHappy.mp3]

Means to an End

In this podcast we have a fist fight at a gun show. Two men, both deeply interested in safety, take very different stances on how to achieve that goal. One, having been mugged and beaten before feels as though having a gun will offer him safety. The other man, losing his son to a gun accident, feels that guns need to be banned. From those different stances, a fight ensues. If they had been more clear on what they really wanted, which is ultimately safety, they would have been able to avoid conflict.

Conflict often arises between people that have the same end goals, but very different means goals. An end goal is a goal that once accomplished is finished. A means goal is a goal created to help achieve an end goal, but isn’t an end unto itself. We often get too attached to a means goal, missing opportunities to achieve the end goal in different ways.

I explain that even what we normally think of as end goals, are really still means goals for what we all really want. Our true end goal is really the ability to manage our own states of consciousness. As an example, we don’t really want money, we want the feelings we think money will give us. That may be security for some, and bliss for others, but it’s the state of being that we want, not the abstraction of money. It turns out that everything we do is in relation to managing our states. Knowing this can breed wisdom and allow us to navigate conflict, and the world in general, with much more ease.

Whenever we come to inner frustration or external conflict, we are at the edge of one of our own attachments, or means goals. Taking the time to be introspective in those moments will help us gain clarity to what we really want (state management) instead of the thing for which we might be fighting (a means goal).

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/MeanstoanEnd.mp3]

Expectation vs. Experience

Important thought:  The gap between our experience and our expectation is our unhappiness.

Experience is what’s happening to us.  Expectation is what we’d like to happen to us.  How many people do you know who live in a state of almost constant disappointment over their life situation?  They are simply comparing what they experience to what the expect, and leaving a huge gap between the two.

There is a freedom away from this type of mind if we want to find it.  It takes a different mind set.  It will help if we can see the pain this behavior creates.

Which can we control, experience or expectation?  Movies and TV often imply that we can control the world, or should be able to.  Science implies that control or prediction should be our greatest goal.

An awake person realizes that we can control, or at least deal with the expectation part of this better than the experience part of this.  That realization is huge.
[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/ExpectationvsExperience.mp3]