Why is it that most Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction? Why is every newscast filled with stories about corruption and greed? And most of all, why has our economy melted down (not to mention our faith and trust in most all of our institutions)?
Could it all have a fundamental cause that is so basic, so personal, and so simple that none of us notice it?
Could it be that the roots of our problems lie not in our institutions or our society but in our individual lives and in our personal measurements of “success?’
Could it be that we are, almost all of us, pursuing the wrong goals?
Could it be that we have developed obsessions with three subtly insidious deceivers—three things that we respect and revere almost to the point of worship—things which we think are worthy pursuits and the ingredients of happiness—but which are actually false and hollow goals that rope us off from the true meaning of our lives?
The three most self-pursued things in today’s world are control, ownership, and independence. (If you want to verify that, walk up and down the isle of the self-help section of a Barnes and Noble.)
The problem with each of the three is their pursuit detracts from our happiness and contributes to our frustration. And there is a deeper problem: They are false and unobtainable
Control, Ownership, and Independence—let’s call them CO&I. Each starts out good. It is good to control our temper and our appetites, good to own the basic necessities, good to have independent thoughts and ideas. But we carry all three too far! We try to control everything and everyone, to make our lists and check everything off and have everything go just the way we planned and everyone do just what we think they should. We are frustrated by surprise and by people and circumstances that go in a different direction and can’t be controlled. We want to own more and more and we measure ourselves and judge others by possessions. We try so hard to be independent and to need no one but ourselves that we become isolated and lonely and forget how interdependent we are on each other and how dependent we are on God.
When we really think, or really pray, we see the deceivers for what they are. We realize that we control so little and that life is better lived by accepting and taking joy in what comes. We realize that we don’t really own anything, that things just pass through us and are temporary. We realize that we need everyone and are vulnerable and interdependent with countless people in countless situations. Ultimately, we realize that it is God who controls everything, who owns everything, and on whom we are dependent for all. Finally, we start to realize that recognizing the three deceivers finding alternatives for them is the key to happiness in this world.
There are powerful alternatives to the three deceivers—alternative attitudes that are peaceful rather than frustrating, inclusive rather than isolating, and true rather than false.
The alternative attitude to Control is Serendipity—the joyful acceptance of what comes, and the magical ability to be observant and aware enough to frequently find things better than what we were seeking.
The alternative attitude to Ownership is Stewardship—the understanding that we take care of some of God’s things and that the best things in life really are free.
The alternative attitude to Independence is Synergicity—a combination of synergy and synchronicity that helps us to see how all is interrelated and how we can always do more by working with others.
Over the next four days, we will explore these three eleven-letter “S” words, which we will call “The Three Alternatives” and will look at how each of us can replace CO&I with SS&S!
The bottom line is that each of us has two basic options: To continue to compete for the world’s definition of success (CO&I) and to find mostly frustration and envy in the process-- OR to redefine what success truly is—to look within, and to our families, and to the spirituality each of us has inside—and to measure ourselves in terms of our Serendipity, our Stewardship, and our Synergicity!
If we choose the latter, better course, maybe, over time, the world will follow our individual examples, and as greed, domination and isolation dissipate, so will some of the world’s biggest problems. We change big things by working on the very smallest things—ourselves.
Get the book The Three Deceivers by clicking here.