I took the time to type this out because of the significance that it has played in my life. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you do.
Why so much unhappiness even though we are accomplishing so many damn good things in our life?
And then there are those who accomplish similar damn good things in their lives and they are happy.
Why the difference? Why are some people happy and some not?
Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach explains in his short book, Learning How To Avoid the Gap, that it’s because those that are happy understand how the brain works: the happy individuals look at life from one perspective and the unhappy from another.
I, personally, have been fascinated by his discoveries and I agree with him.
Our minds are very complex, yet we can think about them in simple terms he explains.
3 major capabilities of the mind.
- The Gap
- The Actual
- The Ideal
The Gap is the permanent difference that exists between our actuals and our ideals.
The Actuals are our actual achievements or results in life.
The Ideal is a mental construct he explains. A tool of our brain that enables us to come to grips with the future. The ideal is a picture that we create of future desirable events and situations that enables us to move forward in time. The ideal does not actually exist outside our minds, nor is it achievable. The ideal has a number of powerful purposes.
It enables us to:
- Establish goals
- Motivate ourselves
- Withstand hardships and difficulties.
Happiness in life comes down to understanding these 3 and how they work.
The Ideal is like the Horizon it’s always out there no matter how far we reach for it it’s always going to be beyond our reach. It’s simply a thinking tool that enables us to come to grips with physical space.
Learning about the horizon comes naturally, but learning about the ideal often requires education, and many human beings never receive it.
The source of unhappiness.
When successful individuals don’t learn that the ideal is just a mental construct and that there is always a permanent gap between their actual achievements and the ideal. The chances are very great that they will lead chronically unhappy lives. They will also make the lives of many other people around them unnecessarily difficult and frustrating in the process.
Understanding the proper role of the ideal is life’s single most crucial lesson. Once this lesson is learned, it becomes possible to avoid forming a habit called “thinking in the gap”, which is the principal source of unhappiness for a great number of people, especially among those people who are the most talented, ambitious, and successful in all fields of activity.
The best way to look at your ideals is as an infinite source of inspiration for creating goals in your life.
Goals are marvelous creations, and goal setting is a marvelous creative activity.
There will never be any computer in the world that can match your brains ability to identify and establish a goal. And a split second, billions of small decisions are made in your mind, and they establish something quite dramatic; two Actuals.
- Where you are right now.
- Where you want to be when you accomplish the goal.
The moment you establish these two Actuals, you are filled with a tremendous motivating energy to move forward. It’s quite a remarkable phenomenon, and you do it dozens of times every day.
*The question which is crucial then becomes how do you measure Actual 2?
Although we are all alike in the way we use our ideals to set and pursue goals, we are radically different from each other and how we measure our achievement when we arrive at our actual too. It is here that the crucial issue of unhappiness comes into the picture, because our ability to be happy in life hinges on the single question of how we measure our achievements. It is almost as if there were a measurement switch installed and everyone’s brain. Depending on which way this switch is moved, people will either be happy or unhappy in their achievements. There are two ways of measuring:
- By the Ideal
- By the Actual.
The decision between an unhappy or happy life.
Our happiness depends on how we perform the act of measurement. We’re always measuring one thing or another. It’s probably the one brain activity that we do more than any other. We measure space. We measure time. We have created an infinite series of rules and standards that allows us to differentiate one experience from another, one thing from another. It’s not too bold statement to make that our very ability to think has come about because of our ability to measure things.
The smartest people are those with the ability to measure one experience against another. At the same time, it’s ironic that some of the smartest people are also the unhappiest people. This is because they have never learned the proper way to measure the single most important thing in their daily lives – their achievements.
When we measure by the ideal it leads to a sense of failure and unhappiness.
Because the ideal is a mental construct, and therefore not achievable, it makes no sense to use it as a measurement of our achievements. Yet millions of people do, every single day. The result is a continual sense of missing the mark.
No matter how great our achievements are, if you measure against the ideal, you will always come up short, you will always feel deficient
People who measure their actual two against the ideal have a perpetual sense of failure throughout their life. This is accompanied by a sense of frustration. Every time they set a goal, they expect to reach the ideal, and these desires and aspirations are always frustrating.
They feel like losers. They have a sense of disappointment with themselves, with others and with life itself. The resulting feeling over the course of a lifetime is one of low self-esteem. There can be a profound sense of guilt for not having lived up to their ideal. Ultimately, these individuals can go into a chronic state of depression, which can severely undermine both their mental and physical health. Their achievements say they should be happy, but they are very unhappy.
When we measure by the actual one it always leads to a sense of success and happiness. This is the key to measure our achievements the actual two against where we’ve come from the actual one, we always have a sense of progress.
Why is that?
Because, unlike the ideal, the starting point that we call actual one is real. It actually exists. We were there; we know what it felt like. The ideal exists only in our imagination. People who measure by the ideal live in a fantasy world. No one else can know or understand what they are using for their measurement. But actual one exists in the real world. It exists in time and in space, and, most important, it can be verified by other people.
Individuals who measure their achievements by actual one always have a sense of success. And with every new success comes a greater sense of satisfaction. There’s an overall experience of increasing capability and confidence. With these also comes high self-esteem. There’s a profound enjoyment of every experience in life. With each new success, there is a heightened sense of optimism because the future has always turned out to be better than the past.
Here is a list of just a few of the things we measure in our lives
- physical appearance
- health and vitality
- talents of every kind
- status in society
Our entire consciousness.
In each area, we are continually creating powerful ideals and from these ideals, we continually established goals for progress and self-improvement. Our entire consciousness is made up of our aspirations to become better human beings based on our ideals, not just in these areas, but in countless others as well.
Imagine, then, the enormous pain there must be for the individual who measures his or her achievement by the ideal attached to them of these areas. In every area of measurement, he or she feels like a failure, in spite of the fact the person may actually be extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, talented, successful, and surrounded by advantages and privileges.
Who achieves more A’s or B’s?
The question goes to the crux of the matter. It helps to explain why the A’s, those individuals who measure their achievements against the ideal, continue to do so, even though it causes them so much unhappiness. You see, that a person believes that all the feelings of failure and frustration or simply the price to be paid for being such a high achiever. Yes, they are unhappy, but it keeps them going, it keeps them from stagnating, it keeps them from becoming complacent.
But look at the B’s those who measure their achievements against the actual 1. Are they not also high achievers? The truth of the matter about human achievement is that it doesn’t make any difference whether you are an A or a B. Both can be equally high achievers. But it makes all the difference in the world to whether you are going to be happy. The B’s are the only achievers who actually experience the happiness of achievement.
The two zones of human life.
There is no one who is a total of A or a total B. All of us have a mixture of the two in our thinking. As children, we learned to measure ourselves predominately by either the ideal or by actual one. This can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, a child whose parents measure themselves by the ideal is also likely to do this. There are religions, as well as school systems, that put enormous emphasis on measuring by the ideal. There are whole national cultures that are preoccupied with the ideal, where people are expected to feel guilty when they fail to achieve perfection.
Living in the negative zone.
A child who grows to adulthood with these kinds of environments, without any countervailing influence, is highly likely to become an A. He or she will live a whole lifetime, then, in what is called the negative zone. Even though there may be moments of happiness throughout this person’s life, the overriding experience will always be a negative one marked by the guilt of failing to achieve perfection.
Living in the positive zone.
Individuals who measure themselves by actual 1 do not lead a perfect life. But they did lead lives of continual progress. Even though they experience momentary periods of unhappiness throughout their lives, their overwriting experience is one of success and happiness. They live in the positive zone.
Change of thinking and habits. If you are in A, can you become a B? If you have spent most of your life in the negative zone, can you move to the positive zone? The answer to both questions is yes; however, it requires a profound change in thoughts and habits. You must realize the importance of measuring yourself by the actual 1 and not by the ideal. Make this a daily thought.
**Dan Sullivan then goes on to provide 12 strategies to assist with this. Go to www.strategiccoach.com and buy this short book if you don’t have it already and read and learn more.
This has had a profound impact in my life to stop from time to time strategically and have a positive focus. To measure where I have come from to where I am today.
Celebrating and appreciating along the way.
I hope you find some value in me typing this all out for you today.
I hope also that you see the correlation between your personal banking policy with us and your ability to leverage/utilize that tool into your lives.
Knowing versus hoping that you are protected.
That yes your money will be there without any market risk.
That it is guaranteed, protected and liquid to utilize back into your lives.
Just like utilizing this profound principle of measuring where you have come from to where you are today.
St. George, Utah
Owner of Optic Financial & Creator of the 20/20 Personal Banking System