I once coached a young man whose dreams of playing basketball and the NBA were crushed when he was told he had a heart condition.
I suggested to him that he felt devastated only because he had never had enough Real Love® in his life.
He was counting on the Imitation Love he would get in the form of praise, power and pleasure as a big-time basketball player to fill the enormous emptiness in his life.
Here is our conversation:
The Search for Happiness
Dwight: I read what you said carefully, but I don't know. That's a tough concept for me to wrap my mind around the idea that I'd be really unhappy even if I were a basketball player.
But I've thought about it some more, and I can begin to see how you're right. I'm beginning to admit to myself that I've been pretty unhappy my whole life. And that was while I'd had just about everything I'd ever wanted.
Greg: You're a wise man, Dwight. You're really beginning to understand a concept most people never get their entire lives. I'm not exaggerating.
Most people spend their whole lives hoping that around the next bend will be the thing that will make them happy. Maybe they'll make more money. Maybe they'll get the promotion. Maybe they'll get more sex, more power. The right woman. Maybe they'll play in the NBA.
The Illusion of Success
Dwight: I got into the special high school that I wanted to go to, but I ended up unhappy for almost the whole time I was there.
Then I got into the college I dreamed of, and I absolutely hated it. I got into the special basketball camps. I also hoped to attend, but something was always wrong with them too. I didn't like the coaches. I didn't get enough playing time something. Then when I got all the playing time I wanted, I complained that I didn't get enough time off or at home.
So anyway, I suspect that you're right. Even if I was in the NBA, somehow I'd be miserable again. But still, this is killing me. I keep thinking that I'd rather be unhappy playing basketball than stuck in this good for nothing job teaching junior college kids how to play.
A Heartbreaking Realization about Success and Happiness
Greg: I really, really understand that your disappointment feels enormous. But playing basketball would only have prolonged the time of your emotional crash, the time that almost everyone experiences, when you would have realized that what you were doing would never make you happy.
That's a terrible day for all of us. Eventually, we all realize that all the money power, praise, sex and all the rest will never fill us up.
This pattern has been going on for thousands of years. You have an opportunity here at an extraordinarily young age to make a change in your life that you won't believe.
You've been learning that it can never produce happiness. That is a constant law of the universe. One you can rely on.
Happiness, genuine happiness that is, can never be found from success in careers or praise or power or anything like that. Happiness is always found in Real Love®, unconditional love. You can't avoid that law.
You can grab hold of this opportunity and make your life fantastic or you can resent it. Choose happiness.
Replace your fear and confusion with peace and happiness.
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