Yes, I’ve borrowed a quote from the Bible and changed it a little bit. Here’s the full original version.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
I’m not getting religious, don’t worry. and I know many people reject the Bible’s wisdom because of the more dogmatic and ridiculous parts of it, but there happens to be great beauty and wisdom contained there too.
And I have to tell you that at first glance, I took that quote to just be joyless, a rigid dogma to keep people on the straight and narrow and more a compromise to happiness than the way to it!
How could the gate that leads to happiness and success be narrow?
After all, we’re taught that we need to have all this – picture me waving my arms in the air to encompass all the stuff that modern success is supposed to look like – big house, fancy car, dripping in gadgets and diamonds – basically its stuff, right? Fancy stuff for sure, but stuff nonetheless.. And we’re meant to have a lot of it, from luxury swiss watches to hot tubs to candles that smell like Gwyneth Paltrow’s va-jay-jay.
And surely success means having loads of irons in the fire, lots of opportunities to make more, do more, be more, trying this and that, pushing ourselves forward up the greasy pole like performing monkeys.
And choices – for sure happiness and success means having more choice doesn’t it?
I just couldn’t see it, I wrote that quote on a blank page in my journal to write about what came up for me around it and I left that page blank for 8 months! It was only when I was flipping through my now finished journal, I started a new one this morning, that just a few pages in from the start, I found this quote with a whole empty page under it.
And this time as I looked at it, I got it, I could see clearly what it meant, for me at least. It made sense now, in a way it just didn’t 8 months ago. And I totally get it and agree with it now.
Narrow is the gate that leads to happiness and success.
Narrow because the bewildering range of choices available to us today leaves us confused and overwhelmed about what is the right one for us, the right action to take next, the right response. What are we supposed to want now, when we buy the phone, the laptop, the tv, the house, the car, the unicorn, the space station – what comes next after that?
And its partly because for many us, most of the time we really don’t want or even need the stuff.
We’ve just been brainwashed by our greedy capitalist society into thinking what they’re selling is what we’re missing in our lives.
But what if nothing’s missing?
What if we already have the key to happiness, within us? Maybe the pathway to our personal success is inside of ourselves?
Maybe we want something very different to those external markers of success and happiness?
When you ask yourself what you want and get your answers, and if you’re like me, you might have said; the big house, fast car, high powered job, fame, money.
Ask why? Why do you want those things? What do they bring you/give you?
And keep going deeper with your why until you can go no further and you might up with a very different list that has things like, comfort, safety, freedom, courage, recognition, approval and other qualities, feelings, emotions you crave.
You don’t get that from external sources. Those feelings, those qualities, they come from within.
You get to give them to yourself.
Without any need for validation or proof.
You don’t have to get the house, car, job, whatever, first!
Think about what you want in life. What success and happiness looks like to you. And start to interrogate the thoughts, ideas, images and notions you have about it.
Ask why that thing, that role, that object? What value does it bring in and of itself?
What values have you attached to it?
What are the feelings, emotions, thoughts you have when you think about having those things?
Imagine feeling those feelings now regardless of whether you’ve got the thing or not. Maybe its feeling proud of yourself, a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction in a job well done, a day well lived, approval of who you are and what you do, how you show up every day, recognition, comfort, safety, joy, happiness.
Now you’re giving yourself what you always wanted.
The other reason I’m sure the gate is truly narrow to happiness and success is because we don’t need what we’re told we need to be happy and successful. That’s outer world bullshit.
I’m not saying you don’t/won’t want it, but you don’t need it or want all of it.
I have so many pairs of shoes upstairs and yet I always end up in the same pair of boots or trainers.
I have more clothes than I could ever hope to wear for any and every occasion that existed pre Coronavirus and required dressing up. But I’m usually in the same shorts and t-shirt in days when its warm enough and a hoodie and leggings on days when its not.
I never needed to buy clothes the way I did. My whole life was spend in pursuit of the perfect garment, I felt like I needed to buy the dress, coat, top, bag, whatever; as if they would make me happy, fill the hole inside of me. And buying stuff never did that at all.
I now realise what I need to be happy is narrow but deep. It’s the freedom to spend every day in nature. To write, create, learn and grow. To work with like minded people, all of us striving to be the best version of ourselves as much as we can be every day, catching ourselves sooner when we inevitably fall short and step up again, returning to that goal.
That’s it. That’s all I need to be happy and successful, to feel happy and successful. The rest of it, the nice home and car of course that’s great to have and I fully appreciate my good fortune and enjoy having those things but I could live happily and successfully without them.
I’ve not worn jewelry apart from earrings maybe at Christmas in over a year. I got all the batteries renewed in my nice watches and yet I haven’t worn them since. I don’t need them, and don’t want to wear them.
Things I do indulge in are plants for the garden and I’m going to invest in a nice new table and chairs so I can sit out there and write. I see that as part of my core need for nature to be happy.
Yes, I can now say I agree that the gate to happiness and success is narrow and deep, the journal page is no longer blank. I know now deep in my bones what I need to be happy and knowing that is such a great weight off my shoulders, I no longer need to chase stuff.
This world is full of competition and comparison, and its human to see something that a friend, family member, colleague has and think oh that’s lovely, I bet that would be nice to have. But ‘nice to have’ doesn’t mean it will make us feel happy and successful.
Let go of comparing and competition as much as you can. Focus on you. Go within, be with your heart, your soul and ask for directions to what really gives you happiness and success.
It will be far more simple than you expect, it will feel authentic, honest, true. The truth will resonate in your bones.
Go do that. Whatever it is, go be it. Give yourself the feelings you crave. Do the work that makes you feel good no matter what you get paid for.
When you know what makes you truly happy and do it, life gets better and better and so do you.
PS. If you’ve been stuck, feeling like you’ve been living the same day over and over and its no fun anymore, if you’ve fought weight issues, depression, anxiety, addiction, or simply a feeling of general dissatisfaction with how your life is unfolding for you, and you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. It’s natural to feel that a solution is almost impossible.
That’s part of what keeps the problem in place.
But real lasting change is possible.
Think how it would feel achieving your goals with far less resistance, whether it’s dropping excess weight, gaining freedom from depression and anxiety, being a rockstar in your business or career, or excelling in your personal relationships. You can do it, you have no fears about staying stuck and not moving forward anymore.
See yourself fully present and grounded, living with total fulfillment and satisfaction with how life is unfolding for you, with no regrets, as you carve your own path forward, moving forward always forward, no looking back .
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