Prescription vs. Description

In my last post, I talked about a conversation I had with a friend about happiness. He was upset because he thought I had been mocking him.

I explained to him that I had used our conversation as a jumping off point into my perspective of what happiness is, that my account was really a fictionalized version of that event. And it was because we had been a group of six people exploring this idea and not just him and I.

Going back to that idea, I want to explore a little more about his questions, not specifically, but what a lot of people do when they ponder about passions, happiness, purpose, etc.

A lot of his questions seemed to circle the idea of how we get there. You can substitute there with happiness, success, or any goal. The problem with discussing specific questions like these is we're trying to find a specific path. One of my friends said, "Do what you love and that'll make you happy." Another suggested to try different things to find your happiness. These are good suggestions but all are prescriptions, and more importantly, prescriptions that are very individual.

There's this thing called modeling: a general process in which persons serve as models for others, exhibiting the behavior to be imitated by the others.

So if I wanted to be rich, then I would research someone who is rich and mimic her behavior, a prescription. We see this with Steve Jobs. He was well known for berating his employees to motivate them to perform better. And given the success of his comeback at Apple, many managers have copied this behavior in pursuit of similar results.

Look at it this way: we all know that a dog is happy when he wags his tail. So if I ran into a pit bull who was growling and foaming at the mouth, then I would walk up behind him, grab his tail and wag it to try and calm him, make him happy. I don't have to tell you that I'd probably lose my hand, arm, and shit my pants.

When I started writing, I had read all of the interviews with J.K. Rowling. I would try and map how she came about her inspiration for her Harry Potter books to how I came to my own for my books as a way to say to myself, "Yup. I'm on the right path."

But lightning never strikes the same place twice. Meaning there can be many paths to success. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes it's overnight. All we can do is do the work.

So instead of a prescription towards what we want in life, a better way to approach something is really a description. From the Tao Te Ching:

Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever. 

What the hell does this mean?

As best as I could put it with my limited mind, wisdom comes to us in the moment. There's nothing we need to do, there's no process we need to have. All we need to do is allow it to come. If you want to inspire your employees to do better, then approach it your way. Whatever that way is, it'll present itself when you need it.

Writing a book is similar. I usually go to a cafe, sit down with my cup of coffee, and dive in. Sometimes it takes a little warm up for the words to come. Sometimes no warm up is necessary. But words will always come.

And as I've said in my last post, happiness is innate within us. Once we let our thinking settle like the what ifs, the sediment of our minds, then we can sit in peace with a clear mind to listen to the wisdom within.