In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the controversial topic of God, the apes, humankind’s origins and the link to happiness & success.
First a quick update:
**** From the vault – We found hidden in the electronic vault, the lost recording: “Our Hidden Motivations” – an interview I gave to Patti Black and Chere of the Good News Show almost 2 years ago. In the interview I share insights into forgiveness; denial and dangers of suppressing our emotions; how to neutralize negative emotions; “Whatever you feel is okay” and; the one question that can help you uncover what is holding you back in life and can help you to change your life. http://patrickwanis.com/RadioInterviews.asp#ohm
Now, lets’ talk about God, the apes, humankind’s origins and the link to happiness & success.
At the close of the 68th Golden Globe awards, comedian and host, Ricky Gervais signed off with “And thank you to God for making me an atheist.”
And with those few simple words, Gervais stirred up, once again, the ever controversial topic of God’s existence and mankind’s origins.
This newsletter, though, is not about religion, nor is it about Evolution or Creationism. Instead, it is about the philosophy of God and spirituality, and their connection and relevance to our happiness and success.
You may have noticed that when God is mentioned, people of all opinions tend to join the conversation; interestingly, atheists and agnostics will spend the time to read lengthy internet articles about God and then proceed to comment on the article and present arguments to refute God’s existence or to condemn those people who believe in God.
It is true that people generally like to either condemn or convert others to their beliefs (this applies to atheists, religious and spiritual people) but could there be another reason why even non-believers choose to invest heavily into these articles? Are they, like everyone else, searching for something?
Religion, dogma, contradictions, hypocrisy, corruption, religious wars and false teachings have turned many people away from institutionalized religion; some people abandon religion all together, some people stop believing in God; others choose to worship privately and yet others, begin their own movements. The New Age Movement evolved almost as a direct response, reaction and even rebuttal to Western religion, even though, many of its basic teachings are similar to traditional Western religion: New Age replaced the word God with Universe, often referring to the Universe as God. The movie and the book “The Secret” states: “Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The universe responds to your thoughts…The Universe will start to rearrange itself to make it happen for you.”
Of course, science and reasoning have also turned some people away from a belief in God. After all, modern science tends to explain most of what we experience as simply neurological reactions and responses – side effects of our brain.
The one thing that science cannot easily explain is human emotions, including our chronic suffering & anxiety. No other animal experiences the vast array of emotions that humans do and no other animal has the heightened ability for introspection that humans have.
But again, I stated at the outset that this newsletter is not about religion, evolution or creationism. My point here is that humans need and crave something much deeper and much more complex than do all other animals and creatures.
In September of 1942, Victor Frankl, a young Jewish Neurologist & Psychiatrist, his new bride, his mother, father, and brother, were arrested in Vienna and deported to a concentration camp.
During his three years in the concentration camp, amidst the pain, suffering and death around him, Victor Frankl made many powerful conclusions and philosophies about human behavior and life.
The first was about the power of love.
In the cold darkness, during a predawn march to lay railroad tracks, with icy wind blowing, Victor Frankl heard another prisoner whisper to him: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”
As Frankl thought about his wife, he had an awakening that she was present within him:
“…for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved…”
Frankl went on to notice that the people who had the greatest chance of surviving their suffering were those who held tightly to the future vision of being reunited with their loved ones.
And here now was his second hallmark conclusion: even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning; even suffering is meaningful. Frankl pointed to the significance of “man’s attitude to his existence.”
And it is these two conclusions by Frankl that combine to create the third.
Even prior to his experiences in the concentration camp, Frankl was concerned about the growing cynicism of human existence – medical schools placed all emphasis on physiology, and psychology believed that the mind is a side effect of mechanisms and failures in the brain. The same still occurs today.
What was and is missing is the spiritual element and perspective.
In 1975, Frankl wrote that “…the de-neuroticization of humanity requires a re-humanization of psychotherapy.” In other words, Frankl recognized the ever-growing neuroses in society (anguish, anxiety, obsessiveness, sadness, depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, phobias, disturbing thoughts, negativity, cynicism, perfectionism, etc.) He also referred to “Sunday Neurosis” – a form of depression resulting from an awareness of the emptiness of one’s life once the working week is over.
Neuroses seem to be common and prevalent throughout today’s society. As people turned away or rebelled against a belief in God and religion, many made the mistake of also tossing values, morality, hope, meaning and purpose; they look outside to the external hoping it will ease their pain or make them happy. Would celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan suddenly watch their inner suffering and torture disappear if they had more meaning and purpose in their lives?
Regardless of whether or not you believe we came from God, Adam & Eve, the apes, a single cell, the Big Bang or even aliens, the one thing that remains true is that real happiness and fulfillment comes from finding meaning and purpose in our lives, filling it up with something more substantial than stuff outside of us; filling it up with love (for self and others) and the desire to make a difference and to help others.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist