Happiness isn’t a rational logical thing, it’s a feeling. Manifesting therefore needs to be focused on the ‘why’ & the feeling or essence that you’re looking for.
“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.” [Viktor Frankl]
Free will or destiny? Self-directed manifestation or flow? Self-reliance or praying to the gods? Which camp do you fit into? Does it depend on what mood you’re in and/or how things are going in your life? Martin Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, says the difference between pessimists and optimists is how they describe life events to themselves. When good things happen, an optimist takes the credit but a pessimist doesn’t. When bad things happen, though, a pessimist takes the blame while an optimist blames external factors. So, are you a manifestor when good or bad things happen to you? And do you jump camps when the opposite happens? Above all – where’s the balance? And how does it all tie into life happiness?
Goal setting – counterproductive?
Research says (1) that setting goals doesn’t necessarily work, and that goal setting may actually be counterproductive. Strike one for manifestation!
In the Harvard Business Review report (2) Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting, the authors conclude that goal setting is a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, and may have harmful side effects including neglect of non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behaviour (which includes cheating and lying about actual achievements), distorted risk preferences, and reduced intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, failure to achieve goals may result in negative consequences for self-identity and create feelings of unworthiness. Hmmm…
Okay, how about happiness?
In (3) Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life the researchers found that “Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. Happiness was largely present oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self, contributed to meaning but not happiness.”
Put simply you can lead a life high in meaningfulness, where you spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future – but NOT be happy. Or you can lead a meaningless life, where you are simply present, BUT be happy. Strike two for manifestation!
What does the ideal self want?
But wait – before you give up on manifestation – check out (4) The ideal self as the driver of intentional change, which presents an alternative view to motivation, change and happiness. In this paper, the ideal self is composed of three major components: an image of a desired future, hope, and a comprehensive sense of one’s core identity. This model of the ideal self creates a comprehensive context within which a person can formulate why they want to adapt, evolve, or maintain their current desired state. The ideal self helps to organise the will and hence create a state of positive effect from within. Note the difference here? ‘Why’ – not ‘what’. Okay, so now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Manifestation that focuses on the ‘what’ – or the specific form of the future – may set you up for feelings of failure, lack and unworthiness – that is, the ‘what’ may become the rope that you use to hang yourself with.
What feeling are you looking for?
Beautiful pictures on that vision board, especially the ones of the lovely beach and palm trees, BUT is that what you’re really after? I’d suggest not. What we think will make us happy is not necessarily what will actually make us happy. This is because happiness is not a rational logical thing – it is not controlled by the rational mind – it is a feeling. Manifestation therefore needs to be focused on the ‘why’ and the feeling or essence that you are looking for. So, I dig the beach and palm trees now because I see that the feeling is one of divine calm, relaxation, connection to the earth and yes, while we’re at it, how about a few cock-tails? But I digress…
The feeling or essence comes first; the form comes second. Clarifying the ideal self involves one’s core identity – who you are, or, maybe we should say, who you aspire to be in terms of values and life philosophy. Then a healthy dose of hope – comprised of a good amount of optimism – and then passions, visions and calling. The result is a positive effect – emotion that creates intrinsic motivation and will. In this state the form of what comes to you is secondary, fluid and able to surprise – hence stumbling on happiness.
So, back to the key question – manifesting outcomes or stumbling on happiness? Maybe it should be manifesting outcomes – in terms of states of being – AND then stumbling on happiness. Clarify how you want to BE. Use all of those lovely visualisation techniques to see yourself as happy, fulfilled, engaged, giving, loved, loving and full of life. Then simply allow life to surprise you. You never know what might happen, and it certainly takes the pressure off and releases the burden of judgement.
1. Why Goal Setting Doesn’t Work – Goal setting may actually be counter productive if not a waste of time
Posted Jul 11, 2014, Psycvhology Today, Ray Williams
2. Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting
Lisa D. Ordóñez, Maurice E. Schweitzer, Adam D. Galinsky and Max H. Bazerman
Harvard Business School working paper, 09-83, 2009.
3. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life
Roy F. Baumeistera*, Kathleen D. Vohsb, Jennifer L. Aakerc and Emily N. Garbin-skyc
The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2013
Vol. 8, No. 6, 505–516.
4. The ideal self as the driver of intentional change
Richard E. Boyatzis and Kleio Akrivou
Journal of Management Development
Vol. 25 No. 7, 2006.
A.C. Ping is an existential philosopher whose work focuses on the key question of ‘How are you creating your reality?’ His current research draws on the inter-disciplinary fields of moral philosophy, criminology, social psychology and neurocognitive science to address the question of ‘Why good people do bad things?’ www.acping.net
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