When I was in Kuwait, speaking on positive thinking and happiness, a skeptical man in the audience politely asked, “Where is the evidence that happiness will make a positive difference in my life?”
Even though two other speakers at the same event were recognized psychologists on happiness (one a Harvard graduate), and had already delivered compelling evidence for the benefits of positive thinking and positive psychology, this man wanted something more.
Well, I had an answer for him.
“You can find evidence for whatever you want to believe,” I replied.
“If you want to believe happiness works, then research online and you’ll find evidence to support your belief,” I continued.
“If you want to believe unhappiness is better, then research online and you can find evidence to support that belief,” I added.
And then I delivered the punch line.
“If there is evidence for both happiness and unhappiness as ways of life, which are you going to choose?”
The crowd applauded.
I don’t know if the man got the point or not. The crowd seemed to. But the polite skeptic was coming from a mindset that was arguing for his own limitations.
After all, why ask for proof that happiness is better unless you want to remain unhappy?
And why would anyone want to remain unhappy?
Author Richard Bach famously wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”
Many people want to stay unhappy because they believe it serves them.
They believe it keeps them “real.”
They believe if they get happy, they may not do anything, or may be denying “reality.”
What they don’t seem to understand is unhappy people are less productive, practical, realistic, healthy, humorous or social.
I learned this back in the 1980s, when I studied with Barry Neil Kaufman, author of such books as To Love Is to Be Happy With.
Barry explained there are myths around unhappiness.
One of them is the belief that unhappiness will motivate you while happiness will not.
As Barry explained it, the truth is that unhappiness will keep you stuck, while happiness will propel you forward by the simple joy of living.
My understanding of limiting beliefs went even deeper when I started working with Mandy Evans, who I often call the original Miracles Coach.
Mandy says some of our top limiting beliefs are —
1. I should be able to make lots of money, but I can’t.
2. I do not deserve success and happiness.
3. I need to think positive every day to change my limiting beliefs.
4. If someone cheats me or betrays me I have to get even or live with resentment.
5. If I were happy, I wouldn’t do anything.
6. Feeling bad motivates me to change things.
7. If I do not give people what they want, I will end up all alone.
8. I should have worked this out by now.
9. I cannot earn a living doing something I like.
10. Better stop wanting; if you get your hopes up, you’ll just get hurt.
Mandy says for each belief that seems true, ask yourself three questions:
1. Why do I believe that?
2. What might happen if I didn’t believe that?
3. Is that true?
To better grasp all of this, read Mandy’s books, Emotional Options and Travelling Free, available from Amazon, bookstores, or http://mandyevans.com/the-breakout-store
As I’ve often said, we live in a belief driven universe; change your beliefs and you get a different universe.
You are welcome to argue for your limitations, of course, or to delete them and believe something better.