Many people think the path to success, happiness and enlightenment is a direct path. Often we think we just have to find the “right” path — like there’s just one, or like it’s simple if you know how. But the reality is quite different, and the path is often as uniquely different as each one of us…
Sure, I do believe that there are important universal commonalities that we all share, however the formof each commonality which makes one person happy in this lifetime may not be anything like the form which makes the next person happy. And often the path to realisation of what makes us happy is distinctly different for each person.
The ‘trial and error’ method
For me, it’s a series of smaller realisations — noticing how “that over there” makes me feel, and then going “over the other side” to see if that works for me and how that feels for me personally. It’s important to stay open to new experiences and possibilities (read about the beginner’s mind), otherwise you might miss out on ideas — or, more accurately, a specific presentation of an idea — that works best for you. I talk a fair bit about the importance of ‘contrast-creators’ in my book The Journey Back to Bliss. That’s because discovering what we DON’T want in life creates a contrast that enables us to get very clear on what we DO want. Without that contrast, it’s almost impossible to truly be clear on our own path to success, happiness and enlightenment.
So what’s with the “take the straight and narrow path” idea?
Whilst I do think moral behaviour is a good thing (we should never harm anyone else on purpose), for me, this biblical idea feels more like a “control” measure. It creates a sense of guilt when you make mistakes or simply enjoy a life that others might think isn’t on “the path”, which hinders the flow and sense of good in our lives. So crucify me, but I’m not a big fan.
The first thing that comes to mind here is so-called pagan spiritual practices. Something which would have you damned to hell if you listened to those religious folk … which I don’t.
First up, I don’t believe in hell (although it might be a useful construct to get my kids to behave!? haha, just kidding) — any construct that evokes fear is something created by man, not by an eternally love-centred Source/God/Universe to which we are all intrinsically part of.
Second, when you look into it historically, most religions are originally based on those same “pagan” practices, just with different words and a few extra man-made constructs thrown in for good measure. Sadly, many hideous wars have been fought over those words.
We are experiential explorers.
So go out and, as long as it doesn’t harm yourself or anyone else, have a whole bunch of whatever fun feels like for you and ignore the naysayers! In my experience, that’s the path that leads to success—at least on a personal level anyway: find a way to live life on your terms and “explore” with others who enjoy the same stuff.
Sure, you might make “mistakes” and discover things you really don’t love, but that’s all just part of the process of discovering your best life and what you DO love…. So get to it!