About Face: Changing the Direction From Which You Seek Happiness

This time of year has it’s own ‘internal reflecting’ which guides us to dig in, evaluate and give thanks. We ponder ideas, gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of the past 11 months, and slow down to look inward and receive the Light we may not receive at other times during the year. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Last Christmas, I got a book written by one of my favorite spiritual writers–Thomas Keating. It’s called ‘The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation.’ Profoundly, he reminds us that we spend much of our lives looking for happiness through avenues that can never produce it. Our misery is produced by looking for love in all the wrong places, as the song goes. Nothing can be truer when it comes to pathology. Pathology is wired to produce misery, not happiness. Everyone has the same response to pathology: they are harmed, miserable, and eventually try to flee. It’s a true indicator of seeking happiness from a source unable to deliver it.

Your idea of happiness was probably initially developed around the relationship or the fantasy that was painted for you about him, the relationship, or your future. Instead of understanding that happiness had been sought from someone (whom by the nature of their disorder could never deliver happiness) you were held captive in the compulsion of repeating the same scenario with him and still trying to find happiness in the very person who is hard-wired to NOT produce happiness!

Not all of this seeking happiness in the wrong place is the result of his pathology. Some of it is the result of our own unknowing about where happiness is found. It is not found in someone else. Instead, it is found inside of ourselves rooted in our own spirituality through God. It isn’t about them. It’s about us.

Keating says, “What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot possibly be found. The key to our happiness is not lost outside somewhere in the grass–it is not lost outside of ourselves. It was lost inside ourselves when we began looking for it in someone else. We need to look for it where it can actually BE found.

The chief characteristic of the human condition is that everyone is looking for this key and nobody knows where to find it. The human condition is thus poignant in the extreme. If you want help as you look for the key in the wrong place, you can get plenty of help because everybody is looking for it in the wrong place too! They are looking for it where there is more pleasure, security, power, and acceptance by others. We have a sense of solidarity in the search yet without any possibility of finding what we are looking for.

The religions of the world have discovered the insight that (non-pathological) human beings are designed for unlimited happiness, the enjoyment of truth, and love without end. This spiritual hunger is part of our nature as beings with a spiritual dimension. Here we are, with an unbounded desire for happiness and not the slightest idea of where to look for it.

While we may certainly recognize that looking for happiness in alcohol or drugs is looking in the wrong place, do we recognize that looking for happiness even in relationships can be the wrong place? Certainly looking for love in pathology would never produce the key you were seeking because it cannot be found where you were seeking it. But sometimes people even look for happiness in what appears to be the RIGHT places–marriage, children, higher education, careers, service to others only again to find that they are still seeking happiness from the wrong direction.

In religious language the word ‘repent’ means to ‘turn away from.’ And I like that concept even from a psychological growth stand point–that as you find your own path of recovery from the aftermath of the pathological love relationship, your recovery calls you to ‘turn away from’ the very thing that has produced so much pain for you–the relationship, the choices, the person. In essence, in order for you to find happiness in yourself, God, and in your own (and often single) life, you must ‘change the direction from which you are seeking happiness.’

This is especially true in this season in which everything in you wants to ‘turn back’ to him, to the routine, the perceived comfort–just to get through the tough times of the holidays. Changing the direction from which you seek happiness is embracing the truth that happiness cannot be found in pathology. God did not create you for pathology. He created you for Himself–for peace, love, and joy. It’s not there and will never be there, even if it IS the holidays.

Over the years I have become pretty good at picking up on those who will ‘get it’ and move on and never repeat the pathological love relationship dynamic again and those who WILL, unfortunately, not change directions from which they are seeking happiness. They might change the FACE from whom they seek happiness, but they are still facing the same direction seeking it. The Institute has been involved in helping hundreds and hundreds of people ‘change the direction from which they are seeking happiness’ and how to find recovery, healing, growth, and better choices in themselves. To that end, we are always consciously trying to expand the way we meet the needs of our growing population of wounded readers and bring a wider comprehensive approach to your own health, well being, and healing from the aftermath of pathological love relationships. We hope that we have touched your recovery in a positive way in 2009. We hope that we have helped you ‘change direction’ on your path. If we haven’t, we’re still here and 2010 is a great year for you to recover in!

As we wind down the holidays, the new year always births in me a new hope. Although there is much turmoil in the world right now, be reminded again, that we can always change the direction from which we have been seeking happiness and focus on a brighter future for ourselves and with ourselves. We look forward to being a bright part of your future in 2010. Thank you for entrusting your care and recovery to us this past year. We do not take that privilege lightly.