But happiness doesn’t just “happen.” It is created, just as unhappiness is created. Once the underlying conditions and necessary skills are in place, the resulting quality of life – happiness or unhappiness – starts to spread like a contagion.
As individuals catch it from each other, entire communities become infected. The conspiracy, once begun, is doggedly persistent and nearly impossible to resist.
We are familiar enough with the viral strain of unhappiness, as it is present all around us in the world. You may be a victim yourself. The conspicuous symptoms of unhappiness are (1) a tendency to worry and panic, (2) a tendency to blame and rage, and (3) a tendency to regret and despair.
Actually these symptom-clusters are more like types (or styles) of unhappiness, which go by the common names of anxiety, frustration and disappointment. If you should get caught inside one of these negative spirals, the likely outcome is depression – chronic fatigue, lack of interest in life, deep discouragement and a feeling of general hopelessness.
One of the necessary preconditions of unhappiness, of whatever variety, is the certainty that you are caught in something outside your control. Unhappy people see themselves as victims. Their anxiety or frustration or disappointment is not chosen – who would want to feel that way? Doesn’t everyone want to be happy? Of course they do.
In their desperate attempt to get out of unhappiness, many unhappy people seek out the help of a professional. Counselors, or “talk therapists,” guide them through a process of examining their core beliefs, testing them against reality, and updating or modifying these beliefs to be more user-friendly.
Talk therapy spends most of its time in the mind of the unhappy person – in what I name the “Storyteller” – and the course of successful therapy can take many months or even years.
Another class of mental health professionals, the psychiatrists or “drug therapists,” take the patient through a battery of medical assessments. Less time is spent on the mind and the stories that frame the patient’s view of reality, than on the body – what I name the “Alchemist.”
Each type of unhappiness, along with the paralyzing depression that commonly ensues, has its own chemical profile in the body. Elevated stress hormones or insufficient neurotransmitters require a re-balancing of the body’s internal chemistry. Drug therapy can also take a long time, and it comes with side-effects that are still not fully understood.
In the end – if there is an end – both talk therapy and drug therapy are statistically not very successful. Probably fewer than one-half of talk therapy clients and drug therapy patients achieve a positive and lasting outcome. Add to this rather mediocre success-rate the increasing cost of therapy, the time it takes, and the collateral side-effects of treatment, and you should agree that these conventional approaches are fairly risky ventures.
One major problem with conventional therapies is their tendency to endorse the unhappy person’s view of him- or herself as a passive victim. Whether it’s looking into the client’s early childhood or into the patient’s brain chemistry for the cause of unhappiness, both of these approaches basically remove responsibility from the individual.
This is probably to absolve the individual from any guilt for their unhappy state, since feeling doubly bad will only make things worse. But by removing responsibility from the client or patient, these conventional therapies also take away – by allowing the individual to keep blaming something else for his or her unhappiness – the one key that can unlock the prison of their suffering: Control.
Now I’m not saying that simply “taking control” is the solution. Unhappiness is also the consequence of taking – or trying to take – control of what is not within the individual’s freedom or power to control.
You can’t control the future, and if you try you’ll become anxious. You can’t control other people, and if you try you’ll become frustrated. You can’t make things turn out exactly as you planned or dreamed, and if you try you’ll become disappointed. Clearly, unhappiness (as anxiety, frustration or disappointment) results from trying to take the wrong kind of control. But there is another kind.
Mentallurgy is my method for taking creative control in your life. This creativity begins in your brain, in what I call the “Mental Theater” of experience. Whereas talk therapy seeks to change your mind (the Storyteller) and drug therapy seeks to change your body (the Alchemist), Mentallurgy shows you how to change your brain and the dynamic stream of conscious attention. Very simply stated, happiness or unhappiness is what follows the focus of your attention and the particular way you represent experience on the projection screen inside your Mental Theater (i.e., your brain).
No long-term therapy is needed, only some very basic re-training of mental skills. There are no side-effects, only transformative results. And the benefits are not only permanent, they are guaranteed.
We don’t need to dig up your past or dink around with your hormones. Your story will change when you change focus or the thing you’re focusing on (called the Mental Object). The same is true of your internal state, or how experience feels in your organs, glands and muscles. This is because both of these loops (“up” into your mind, “down” into your body) are anchored in your Mental Object.
I call these loops “braintracts.”
The work of Mentallurgy begins by showing you how you are creating happiness or unhappiness, as the case may be. If you are chronically unhappy (anxious, frustrated, disappointed) and struggle to keep yourself from sliding into depression, it’s only because you have become especially skillful at making yourself that way.
Mentallurgy says: Take responsibility for the meaning and feeling of your experience. Step into your Mental Theater and start making creative changes there. Your life will be transformed.
From that critical point, everything else changes. You will be happier because you understand that happiness and unhappiness are not determined by what’s going on around you. Even more importantly, you will be happier because you know how to create happiness. Pretty soon your relationships will be transformed. Your view of life and your way of being in the world will be transformed.
The planet itself will change as the people you touch catch on. They will want what you have.
You see? It’s a conspiracy. Join me.
Check out this short video: The Quick Rip on Mentallurgy