Okay. So you're getting a handle around the first skill of emotional appreciation. You're getting a sense of the relaxed peace of not fighting with your feelings.  You see that trying to avoid bad ones and have only good ones might be a losing game. You're gaining a willingness to allow your emotional body to process all the feelings that have been forced into the Shadow Side of the Self.

Now you're ready (perhaps) for one of the most incredible emotional understandings you can have in this lifetime. This stuff is the neutronium bomb of emotional skills. It will give you insight into the very nature of your identity and ego. It can allow you to shift internally in the way you deal with your entire life.

While this material is best received in a four hour live seminar, we'll have to work within the limitations of the web media to communicate it, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey as you follow along…

Consider the story of Anne B.

"I managed a big project at work that was very difficult and challenging. I knew if I could get this project done it would be well worth all the long hours and stress. Finally we got it done. It worked out great. I was the toast of the company! Taken out to dinner by the CEO, given a raise and promotion, I had accomplished just about everything you could want at work. I was the hero, I was The One, I had made it and was being honestly acknowledged by co-workers for my contribution. I felt great…for about a day. Then, for the next week, I actually felt awful. I had accomplished the deed, I had achieved a sincere measure of fame in my company, but I felt empty and flat. What was next? And why wasn't I just jumping for joy? Why do I feel so flat and empty inside? Why, with all this acknowledgment, isn't it enough?"

Why is it that happiness achieved soon becomes happiness lost?

Happiness is a rather interesting human feeling. It is essentially what we are all after. We are drawn to it, we want it, it is a driving force in our lives.

We buy things to try to get it,

we work on relationships to try to keep it,

we make food choices for it;

we do drugs or drink liquor to feel it

We all know that if we could just get happy and stay happy then everything would be okay!

However, as we ALL soon find out, happiness is much more elusive than that. We "get happy" when we get something we've wanted. Maybe it’s a new car or a new relationship or promotion or whatever. It feels great! For a day, or a week, or a little while. Then we notice it begins to slip away. We begin again to have those vague background feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness.

Within a few hours or days or weeks of getting happy about something,

we end up feeling once again like something's missing from our lives.

The new job or the new relationship or the new house was good, BUT… So once again we look around to see what would make us happy, we work to get those things, and finally, after a short or long while, we "get happy" again, only to be disappointed after a few days or weeks as happiness once again slips away.

Time and again we discover that the things we buy to get happy don’t last. The new car, the bigger house, the increasing number of vacations - no matter what we spend, it doesn’t last. A new car is great for a few days or so. But then, that vague feeling of something’s just not right begins to creep back into our lives. We look around for the solution, and sure enough, we find something else. What would really make us happy is a bigger new house. Of course, that’s what we really need to be happy! So we work and struggle to make enough money to get the new home, and voila, we move in and feel great! Wow, this bigger new house is marvelous. Filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment and expansiveness, we are happy!

For a while. After a few days or weeks that sense of something’s just not right here begins to return. After all, the payment on this big new home is rather large… So we look around for a solution to our unhappiness and there it is, staring us right in the face, of course! It’s obvious that what we now really need to stay happy is a new job with more money! So off we go once again to run the rounds of the desire/dissatisfaction cycle. We struggle and hope and fear and rearrange our lives to get the new job or the promotion and finally we arrive, we get the new job.

The new job is great, the pay is great, and yes, we’re happy! But soon the responsibilities and the stress are actually giving us ulcers. The pride and pleasure we felt in our new job soon seems like a fading memory. We have a big house, we have more money, but damn it, we can't seem to just relax and enjoy. So we look around and slowly, to our dawning dismay, we realize that the problem really seems to be our spouse. He or she used to be perfect, but now they seem more focused on themselves than on us, the spark is mostly gone. Maybe we need an affair, or even a divorce… Now what we really need to be happy is a more passionate lover!

Are you beginning to see yourself in this cycle?

All human beings are caught up in it, this cycle repeats endlessly throughout much of our lives… Why is it that whatever we acquire to be happy is never enough?

We think what we need to be happy is a relationship. We get one, we’re very happy for a while, the sex is great, the sense of connection and intimacy is mind-blowing, we’re way beyond happiness, we’re talking near-nirvana here! But after the first few months, our sacred relationship begins to become rather normal and ordinary. We get irritated by the way the toothpaste gets left or with the up or down position of the toilet seat.

We begin at times not to feel connected even when we’re in the same room. The sex goes from daily towards weekly. That darn vague feeling of something’s just not right here creeps back into our lives more and more each day. Damn, we thought we’d nailed it this time, with THIS relationship. But here it is again.

Maybe what we really need is kids and a family, that is what would really make us happy. Or we decide what we really need is another partner, so we end this relationship that didn’t make us happy hoping for the next one to really do it for us. Says Joe L:

"Okay, Jan, my wife of ten years, is really great. She's cute, she'll do anything for me, she loves me. But I have this persistent feeling that she's just not The One. There's this woman I met at work who really turns me on. She's only 25 years old and has a great body and our sex is mindblowing. I'm actually thinking of leaving my wife for this young bombshell. I keep thinking about her and how great she is in the sack and how much she turns me on.

But the thing is, once the sex is done, we don't have much to talk about. I'm 45 years old and I can tell her maturity isn't the same. She doesn't have the depth to her thinking you get as you get older and I feel a bit fake keeping our conversations going in things she thinks is interesting but hold no appeal for me. So here I am thinking of leaving my marriage for this hot woman, feeling like a teenager in love, and yet the part of me that isn't a teenager seems to already know somehow it won't work out…

You know, I've slept with over 100 women in my life, and I seem to get bored with them all, a part of me is just always looking for the Right One, the one who'll keep me happy all the time…"

The desire/dissatisfaction cycle has us full in its grip for most of our lives.

We don’t feel happy, we figure that fulfilling some desire will make us happy, we fulfill the desire, get happy, lose it, then chase after something else. Recognize yourself caught in this cycle?

Recognize the human race caught in this cycle?

Sure, our lives aren’t that bad. Sure, we’re "happy" most of the time. Well,

not joyously happy

okay, not exuberant, by any means,

but we’re mostly kinda happy.

It’s just that oftentimes we have these vague feelings of dis-ease, of something’s missing, something’s just not right here. Everything’s okay, but… My life is fine, and yet… Nebulous notions of emptiness and dissatisfaction or boredom lurk in the background of much of our days or weeks. Sometimes more poignant feelings of angst or anxiety or even flat out panic attacks pop up from time to time. After a while we learn to settle - if we can just maintain an even keel emotionally we figure we’re doing fine.

Take a moment and do this Exercise right there in your head:

Something that makes me happy is ___________________________________________

When I get this, my happiness generally lasts about this long ______________________

Something else that makes me happy is _______________________________________

When I get this, my happiness generally lasts about this long ______________________

Something else that makes me happy is _______________________________________

When I get this, my happiness generally lasts about this long ______________________

Something else that makes me happy is________________________________________

When I get this, my happiness generally lasts about this long ______________________

This isn’t good or bad. Happiness comes and goes for all of us. It is just useful to begin to understand the pleasure-seeking mechanism within us and its shortcomings.

Sure, we’re all adults, and yes, we’re all generally okay. We’ve got life figured out and everything mostly goes all right for us, AND YET we often feel that something’s missing. What’s missing is happiness. What’s missing is emotional well being. What’s missing is that emotional zest and vitality. What missing is a deeper sense of contentment and fulfillment.

Relates Tim C:

"10 years ago I was flat broke, living in various friends extra bedrooms. I knew that what I really needed to be happy was to handle the money thing. That if I could just make enough money, my life would be great. I got into real estate and started making some money. Then I got into putting together REIT's (real estate investment trusts) and began making A LOT OF MONEY. Two years ago my net worth exceeded 2 million dollars.

Now, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it but I gotta tell you that while the money has certainly made me feel more secure and happy, much of the time I feel miserable! Even with a net worth of a couple million bucks I feel nervous, and I worry about the stock market and the value of real estate and my investments and I'M JUST PLAIN WORRIED much of the time. I should be able to just relax and breathe deep and be pleased, but I'm not sure I'm that much happier in general than ten years ago when I was broke. I feel like I'm on some racetrack running desperately to get somewhere, but the race is endless…"

Our very sense of self often seems underpinned by feelings of emptiness or anxiety or unrest that we can never quite seem to get rid of.

Yes, even a million dollars or two million dollars won't keep us happy. Consider the Don Trump syndrome. You struggle and strive to make your first million and finally you're there - you get that first million. It feels great, you're deliriously happy - for a while. Then at some point you notice you can't even buy a great house on the beach for under two million so you decide what you really need to be happy is ten mil. So you charge off into the struggle again to try to get what will really make you happy - ten million bucks. If you make it, its great, but then, after a while, you start noticing something seems to be missing. To keep a nice second house on the beach and a personal jet and to be able to really relax about a hundred million ought to do it. So off you go in the search for more money.

  • Why is it that happiness achieved soon disappears?
  • Why is it that at one million bucks or ten million bucks people can't just stop and let it be enough?
  • Why is it that whatever we accomplish in life doesn't keep us filled with joy?

We can be the toast of our company, as Anne B was, we can own the company, as Tim C could, but it won't seem to last. Or we can go for the ultimate, FAME and fortune. But we only have to look at the ruined lives of many rock or movie stars, the drug abuse, alcoholism, suicides, to see that even all the fame and glory, the adulation of millions, can't guarantee happiness.

Even with more achievable dreams:

  • doing meaningful work,
  • getting married,
  • raising a family,
  • going on vacations

it isn't enough. We can spend our lives doing work we enjoy and raising kids we love and yet each week we have ups and downs. And then when it is time to retire and/or the kids move out of the house, we are left with this empty feeling. What's next? Something seems to be missing. How come we can spend our entire lives doing pretty much what we wanted yet we don't end up filled with joy and happiness?

WE, as in the entire human race, will spend much of our lives trying to get happy. And we will get happy many, many times. And just as many times that happiness will fade away. We will feel dissatisfied in some way and look for the next thing to make us happy. We all say things like

My life is really great, BUT I'm still looking for the right relationship…

Our honeymoon last week in Hawaii was fantastic, HOWEVER now we've got to earn enough money to buy our own house…

I'm making great money at my job, AND YET I'm thinking its time for a career change…

My life is good, BUT it seems like something's missing spiritually…

We are ALL caught up in the

Desire/dissatisfaction cycle

Are you beginning to understand this cycle? One of the clues to its existence is that there is always an





Whatever good things have and are happening in our lives, we all usually have some personal version of

Everything's okay, BUT…

Can you begin to see yourself somewhere in this cycle? If you are honest, if you tell the truth, you can usually locate your version of "everything's okay, and yet…" And most of us have more than one "BUT…" When you get together with your friends, start noticing as they tell you about their lives this mechanism at play.

Take a few minutes now to consider the dilemma you are caught up in. Whatever you think is going to make you happy ultimately won't last. After a while, the more cynical of us give up spinning round and round on the desire/dissatisfaction cycle. We get tired of looking for "The Answer" by chasing after yet another empty desire. So what do we do when we give up trying to ease our basic sense of discomfort through fulfilling desires?

We anesthetize.

We go for just plain anesthetizing these nebulous or sharp feelings of dissatisfaction and dis-content. We use drugs or alcohol, that works really well. Or we develop food addictions. Enough chocolate ice cream and doughnuts and we don’t feel much of anything anymore, food is a great anesthetizer. Sex is another popular addiction - maybe if we sleep around with enough people (or with the same one enough times in a week) we’ll feel okay, loved and accepted. Workaholism, shopping addictions - clearly if we don’t feel right we need to go to the mall - that’s where happiness gets sold!

In the human dance of life, most people are doing one of two things:

Looking for the Next Answer to Get Happy again and avoid dissatisfaction


Anesthetizing the dissatisfaction with food, work, alcohol, drugs, etc.

The human search for happiness grabs us young and keeps us looking for the answer for most of our lives. We human beings throughout our days are engaged in perpetual activities to achieve lasting happiness. Or we give up at some point and engage mostly in anesthetizing behaviors. We watch talk shows, read books, go to movies, socialize, hoping to discover somewhere The Answer to lasting happiness or lasting anesthetization.

So one of the very first lessons in real human wisdom is about The Big H. The recurring search for Happiness. Just notice that it is part of the human condition, the drama of life. The things you have found so far in your life that make you really happy haven’t lasted. (Don’t worry, they haven’t lasted for anyone else either!) In fact, the very mechanism within us that seeks happiness is one of the main reasons we can’t find it!

So to begin with, just notice the mechanism, get a sense of it in yourself. What makes you really happy? How long does your happiness, once achieved, generally last? Is your happiness replaced by nebulous background feelings of dissatisfaction or sharp pangs of need and desire?

See if you can observe, within yourself, the desire/dissatisfaction cycle.

If you can, that in itself is a great start, and will begin to alter your life. (If you aren’t in touch with it yet, you'll probably notice it clearly over the next week.)

EXERCISE: (fill in the blanks)

My life is okay, But ______________________________________________________


Everything's all right, however ____________________________________________


My life would be good, if only _____________________________________________


I'm doing pretty great, And Yet ____________________________________________


If Only _________________________________________________________________

______________________, then I'd be happy.

What do you currently think will make you happy?

What did you think would make you happy last month?

What did you think would make you happy five years ago?

In your current relationship, what changes do you think would make it better?

In your most recent past relationship, what changes did you think you needed?

How much money do you think you need to be really happy?

What, if anything, are you waiting for, what are you wanting to happen, before you'll be really happy and joyous and ecstatic?

This is not to suggest that you somehow shouldn't want things and shouldn't have goals and go for them. Desire is a natural part of life and working towards getting our needs met is part of the human dance. There is nothing wrong with having desires and working to fulfill them. Just see if you can begin to notice that actual happiness doesn't "live" in getting your needs met…

So now, let's answer the question: Why is it that regardless of what we get or accomplish in life, it's never enough? Why is it that however well we are doing in life there is an AND YET, BUT, or IF ONLY? Why is it that happiness achieved soon becomes happiness lost? Because we ain't happy.

You have to keep looking for happiness because you AIN'T HAPPY.

At the core of our very identities, we aren't happy. That's why we have to keep looking for happiness, because we don't got it. And whatever happiness we do get, is on top of something that isn't happy. So we soon lose our happiness because at core we just AREN'T HAPPY.

Look at the evidence. Whatever you have gotten so far hasn't kept you happy, has it?

Look at the evidence. You only go after something you don't got, right? You don't struggle to get more food after a turkey dinner. Yet we struggle to get happy time and again because we ain't happy.

There's most always an AND YET or Yes, BUT because whatever happiness we get is on top of something at the core of our identities that isn't happy.

Wisdom begins with acknowledging what's so. What's so is that we human beings are constantly trying to get happy because we ain't. All of us experience the desire/dissatisfaction cycle in our lives on a regular basis. We feel like something's missing, we look for what could make us happy this time, we struggle to get that thing, we get happy, then before long we feel like something's missing again and start the cycle all over again.

This isn't bad or wrong, its part of being human. And there is something you can do about it. The first step is to recognize that you, me, your best friend, and everyone else is searching for the Big H because we ain't H. A beginning to wisdom is to make this mostly unconscious mechanism in us more conscious. If you have done that at this point you've done a good job.

Over the next few weeks see if you can notice this cycle operating in your life. If nothing else, it might help you relax a bit in the struggles of life. Sure, you're going to have desires and work to fulfill them. But if they aren't going to bring you lasting happiness anyway, then maybe you can just relax some as you go about your struggles. It's all part of the dance of life.

The next lesson in the course on developing Emotional IQ is about the mechanism in us that constantly searches for Happiness. The next lesson is about a core piece of our identity we call the Hole in the Self. Understanding this Hole and beginning to Heal it is one of the most profound things you can do for yourself in this lifetime! 

If you want to understand the Hole in the Self you can get our book, Thriving Emotionally.  Go the order page on our website at www.emotionalskills.com  If you don't have the ten bucks to purchase the book e us and we'll work something out.  Or you can explore the Hole in the Self live from a few different teachings. 

One is the Ridhwan School, based in California, but with groups available in many cities around the globe.  Another group that teaches about the Hole in the Self is Landmark Education.  They have training classes in most major cities in the US and some globally.   Both groups call it by different names, but they can take you through a personal experience of the Hole in the Self and the mechanisms in us we've put together to try to fill the Hole. 

The book Thriving Emotionally, or the classes you can take with either of the above groups are fascinating work and provide useful insight into how we human beings have put our ego structures together.  With this kind of knowledge it is much easier to enjoy the dance of consciousness within ourselves and to stop automatically "pushing against the river" of the force of our lives. 

The Hole in the Self is one of the most profound experiences you can have in this lifetime.  Try it and you'll never look at life in the same way again!