Changing Your Mind vs. Changing the World—Part 3

by William R. Yoder on December 5, 2009

[see part 1 and part 2] From my perspective, there are two big problems with what I call “the technique approach.”

The first problem is that this approach is based on lie, at least in my experience. Unhappiness (like happiness) ultimately comes from within. We are unhappy first, and then we find something to blame. Actually, it’s not so much a matter of “finding” something to blame, as rather making up a story that something is to blame. In my story, that bad thing I am blaming is the cause, and my unhappiness is the effect. But the truth of the matter is that my unhappiness is the cause, and finding or making up blame in the world is the effect. And so the whole “technique approach” boils down to trying to change the effects without changing the underlying cause.

The second problem with the technique approach is that it doesn’t work, at least not consistently. “It doesn’t work” means that it doesn’t give me deep or lasting happiness. For one thing, while I am trying to change the world, I tend to feel some level of anxiety. I might fail, something unknown might happen. Someone else might do something that thwarts my own efforts, and so on. Even if I do change the world to fit my desires, and even if I get what that I think I need, things are always changing. So there’s no lasting security in my happiness. I feel anxiety in trying to get it; I feel anxiety in trying to keep it; and I feel unhappiness when I lose it. All of this anxiety and unhappiness is based on my underlying belief that I need the world to be certain way in order for me to feel really happy.

Of course, using techniques such as affirmation and visualization can be helpful. It is not the technique that is the problem, but rather the mindset and the beliefs of the person using the technique. As long as I am using a technique in the belief that I need to change the world in order to feel happy, the technique will ultimately fail to deliver what I am looking for.

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