Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

Back in June I had a dream where I was lost. I was in a sprawling home flipping through a glossy magazine with pictures of celebrities. Oddly, a picture of my father appeared.

I then put on my father's light green olive suit. (To me, green is a spiritual color, a cool color that radiates harmony and balance). The suit fit perfectly. It felt good and I found my sense of direction.

I took this dream to mean that I will be undergoing a change in lifestyle and philosophy and that symbolically trying on my father's clothes will help usher in this change.

Synchronistic events began to transpire. My participation in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life put me in touch with someone who was a grad student at University of Toronto where my father had received his PH.D. I asked this person to look up my father's thesis in early childhood development and he was able to check-out the book for me from the university library.

Shortly after this event, I paid a visit to my Mom's place and was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of large boxes in the guest room containing some of my father's old correspondence. (My brother was finally able to retrieve these after years of collecting dust in the garage of a previous home we had lived in).

So here I was, after all these years, reading my father's thesis and sifting through his photos, certificates, and correspondence - metaphorically trying on my father's clothes. This was the first time in my life that I was able to acquire a deep understanding of the scope of my father's work. (My father passed away twenty years ago in a car accident - so as you can imagine, it was an emotional experience).

Among the papers, I also came across my own drawings and stories I had created as a kid that my father had painstakingly kept in good condition. I marveled at the creativity and imagination I had displayed at such a young age. (As early as the fifth grade I was showing an aptitude for writing, art, and storytelling with lots of A's and commendatory notes scribbled by my teachers).

I remember feeling so much joy and delicious wonder as a child entering into my own dream world. But somewhere along the way, I lost touch with that divine spark and pure innocence. It was not until many years after graduating from university that I was able to reclaim that spark by writing my book, "Psychology of the Hero Soul."

The hero's journey is about finding that dreamland we left behind as kids - and returning home. What makes us lose touch with that divine spark within?

Perhaps it is in our very pursuit of happiness that we have lost our way. For so many people (in America it's part of the constitution as an ‘inalienable right') are pursuing happiness and yet are unhappy and unfulfilled. What's the solution?

In his bestseller, "Man's Search for Meaning," Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, a man who endured years of suffering in Nazi death camps, wrote, "...Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself...Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge...In the long run...success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it."

Instead of fixating on the outcome, focus on the process - on happily achieving rather than trying to achieve happiness. Focus on providing service through your core work and bettering yourself.
Don't be afraid to experiment - worrying about what other people will think. Do your own thing. Follow the promptings of your spirit and the gentle whisperings of your soul. Follow your own natural curiosity - back to dreamland.

And don't be afraid to try on a new change of clothing from time to time...You just never know where it might take you...

To your happiness,

Sharif Khan
Writer, Author of "Psychology of the Hero Soul"
A book for inspiring the HERO in YOU!

This essay was taken from my FREE Hero Soul ezine on personal growth. If you enjoyed the write-up, I encourage you to subscribe to my newsletter by visiting and clicking on the 'newsletter' tab.