How your brain sabotages your happiness

By Benjamin  P. Hardy and Dan Sullivan lengthy Learn

“There isn’t any method to happiness—happiness is the best way.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and People have been sad ever since. One particular phrase has come to outline American tradition and psychology: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


At the same time as a younger man, Jefferson struggled with the concept of happiness. He believed we must always aspire to it, however that its precise attainment was probably inconceivable. In 1763, the 20-year-old Jefferson wrote a letter to a school classmate, John Web page. He shared a current expertise of being rejected by a lady. “Excellent happiness, I imagine, was by no means supposed by the Deity to be the lot of one in all his creatures on this world; however that he has very a lot put in our energy the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I’ve steadfastly believed.”

The pursuit of an unreachable happiness was a part of Jefferson’s credo.

This philosophy was the idea of his pondering not solely as a romantically inclined youth but additionally as a middle-aged man who was envisioning the rules of a brand new nation.

What Jefferson didn’t notice is, with that single assertion within the Declaration of Independence, he framed the expertise of “Happiness” as unattainable. That notion would go on to form the tradition of America.

By saying happiness is one thing we’re pursuing, the direct implication is that we don’t have it now. You don’t pursue one thing you have already got. Even when we’ve already achieved one thing nice, this pursuing retains happiness all the time up forward and across the nook. Happiness is after the subsequent achievement.

  • Happiness is someplace within the distant future.
  • Happiness is on the market.
  • However happiness is rarely right here.

In the event you assume it is a stretch, a current ballot discovered that solely 14% of American adults say they’re very joyful.

I’m not blaming all American unhappiness on one in all America’s most necessary founding fathers. However concepts can create tradition, and tradition is maybe essentially the most highly effective pressure shaping human id and decision-making. The implications of this framing aren’t small. By embracing the pursuit of happiness, we rob ourselves of happiness within the right here and now. We fail to understand who we’re and what we’ve performed up to now.


When your happiness is tied to one thing sooner or later, then your current is diminished. You don’t really feel joyful, assured, or profitable. However perhaps sooner or later you’ll be, or so the logic goes.

If you’re chasing happiness externally, it’s since you’re disconnected internally. And once you’re disconnected internally, you then’re making an attempt to fill a GAP. Are you within the GAP?

Within the early ’90s, Dan Sullivan, the world’s foremost entrepreneurial coach, found how pervasive the GAP was amongst his extremely profitable shoppers, in addition to individuals typically. He uncovered the GAP as a poisonous mindset that stopped individuals from being joyful and appreciating their lives. He knew that till individuals received out of the GAP, they’d by no means be as joyful or profitable as they may very well be. He got down to assist individuals get out of the GAP. The GAP and The GAIN turned one in all Dan’s most vital and transformational ideas. Till now, this idea has been hidden behind the unique partitions of Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program.

“Your future progress and progress are actually based mostly in your understanding concerning the distinction between the 2 methods in which you’ll be able to measure your self: towards a super, which places you in what I name ‘the GAP,’ and towards your place to begin, which places you in ‘the GAIN,’ appreciating all that you simply’ve completed.” —Dan Sullivan

The GAP is present in each mundane and monumental experiences. You may be within the GAP about getting the smaller half of a cookie (extra on this later). Or you possibly can be within the GAP about your complete previous—wishing your life had been one thing totally different or higher.

Excessive achievers are notably liable to being within the GAP. For example, analysis reveals that CEOs are twice as prone to have melancholy than most of the people. Entrepreneurs are liable to substance abuse, in addition to melancholy and suicide. Even after some huge victory, their thoughts shortly goes to the subsequent unreached achievement. Though this will result in an excessive amount of exterior success, the issue stays unresolved internally. Many—if not most—excessive achievers stay sad, and their unhappiness grows deeper and deeper with every exterior accomplishment. That’s, in the event that they keep within the GAP.

Thomas Jefferson was, in fact, a really inspiring and important particular person to American historical past. However the reality stays: Jefferson was within the GAP. And that’s why he by no means “discovered” the happiness he was pursuing. Sadly, Jefferson’s GAP-thinking has change into pervasive all through Western ideology and pondering.

An instance of GAP-thinking is a profitable however sad man named Edward. Edward is a former shopper of Chad Willardson, the founder and president of Pacific Capital, a premier wealth administration agency in Southern California. Again in early 2003, throughout his first assembly with Edward, Chad may inform by his physique language that Edward had nervousness and fear. Edward talked about that he was involved concerning the inventory market and the place the economic system was headed. Chad assured him that with the correct workforce, plan, and technique, his monetary future could be safe and considerable.

After studying about Edward’s monetary scenario, Chad additional confirmed that Edward had each purpose to be assured in his future. At the moment, Edward was in his early 40s and had a multi-six-figure revenue with $2.5 million in money to speculate. He informed Chad, “If I can simply get my funding portfolio to $5 million, then I’d really feel safe financially and at last be capable of chill out.”

They set Edward’s aim at $5 million. Edward adopted the plan he and Chad had developed. He was including cash yearly to his accounts and his investments had been rising and compounding excellently. Inside a number of years, he handed his authentic aim of getting $5 million in his funding portfolio.

However as soon as he received there, he nonetheless didn’t really feel safe. He was within the GAP. He was fearful concerning the future. “I really feel like I would like $10 million to actually really feel secure and safe,” he informed Chad. Together with his nice revenue and funding technique, his portfolio finally did develop past $10 million, and by 2019, his portfolio was as much as $17 million—over thrice his authentic monetary freedom goal.

From an out of doors perspective, this man was greater than dwelling the American dream. He had grown to have a seven-figure revenue. He had an enormous nest egg of compounding property. And with out query, he was a savvy and sensible businessman. But, he by no means outgrew his GAP-mindset. He by no means realized find out how to respect his GAINS. He was by no means grateful or joyful about his scenario. He remained anxious and fearful concerning the future. He continued to devour GAP-media that satisfied him the monetary world was going to break down, and that he was going to lose all his cash.


He requested a gathering with Chad. He wished to desert the planning and technique that they’d been efficiently executing over the earlier 16 years and go utterly conservative into money. His view of the long run was pessimistic. He didn’t anticipate any extra future progress.

On condition that Edward was abandoning the plan and technique Chad was offering and executing, it was clear they had been now not aligned. They determined to go their separate methods. Edward offered off his investments and put all of his GAPmoney into the financial institution, the place it has sat since early 2019 after they had that dialog.

On the writing of this e book in mid-2021, the S&P Index has grown over 68% within the two years since Edward fearfully took his cash out of the market. Edward couldn’t escape the GAP. Edward couldn’t respect his GAINS. He was all the time making an attempt to bridge a GAP he believed was someplace in his future.

However the arduous reality is that the GAP was all the time deep inside himself. Finally, his GAP-thinking turned so excessive that he stopped believing in his future fully. It’s a tragic story. However much more unhappy is how frequent it’s.

You too could have fallen for this GAP-mindset. Possibly you too, like Thomas Jefferson and Edward, have frequently reserved “happiness” and “success” for your future, however by no means your current. In that case, you’ll by no means “discover” happiness. Regardless of your frequently rising success, happiness and safety won’t ever be yours as a result of the GAP-mindset finally stops progress altogether.

In the event you’re within the GAP and assume that “happiness” and “success” are one thing you “pursue” and may have in your future, you then’re in bother. You’re making your self depressing. And simply as unhealthy, you’re truly making everybody round you depressing with your GAP-thinking. If you’re within the GAP, you see every little thing although your GAP-lens. Nothing is ever sufficient. Nothing ever will likely be sufficient. You possibly can’t see the GAIN in your self or others. And till you do, you’ll by no means be joyful. Plain and easy.

Jefferson was unsuitable.

Happiness isn’t sooner or later.

In the event you’re able to lastly get out of the GAP, you then’re about to learn the way. This e book will present you the ONLY approach out of the GAP. And fortuitously for you, it’s extremely easy. However don’t be fooled by the simplicity of what you’re about to study.

It’s human nature to be within the GAP. The GAIN is the antidote. The GAIN creates instant happiness. The GAIN connects you to your self and your personal progress. The GAIN transforms every little thing. The GAIN provides you energy over the course in your life. The GAIN will get you out of the GAP.

On the day Dan found the GAP, he was annoyed by one in all his shoppers, Bob (not his actual title), who was himself annoyed and thus creating detrimental power among the many remainder of the group.

A basic side of Strategic Coach, Dan’s teaching program, is having his entrepreneurial shoppers meet each 60–90 days. Whereas they meet, the entrepreneurs undergo pondering instruments that enable them to mirror, strategize, and get distinctive and useful views for his or her lives and companies. Dan requested Bob what he had completed within the earlier 90 days, and Bob began sharing a number of the progress his firm had made, resembling a brand new deal they’d secured.

However instantly after sharing what they’d performed, Bob started explaining that their “progress” didn’t truly imply something, as a result of it wasn’t what may have or ought to have occurred.

“Yeah, however none of that basically means something as a result of…”

Whereas listening to Bob devalue his progress and complain about his scenario, Dan all of a sudden and clearly noticed a proof for a bizarre factor that profitable entrepreneurs do to undermine their progress and confidence. This wasn’t the primary time he’d heard one in all his shoppers grumble about their progress.

Dan walked to his paper flip chart and drew an image to elucidate to Bob what was taking place. On the high of the paper, Dan wrote the phrase Preferrred. On the backside of the web page, he wrote Begin. Then between the 2 phrases, on the center of the web page, he wrote Achieved. He then drew a line between the phrases Achieved and Preferrred.

He defined it to Bob like this:

“The Begin” is the place you had been 90 days in the past. ‘The Achieved’ is what you’ve truly achieved over the previous 90 days. ‘The Preferrred’ is the place you would like you had been. You’ve gotten a super in your thoughts, and also you’re measuring your self towards your splendid, fairly than towards the precise progress you’ve made. That is why you’re sad with what you’ve performed, and it’s most likely why you’re sad with every little thing in your life. You’re measuring your self within the GAP.”

Whereas drawing and pondering out loud, Dan unknowingly formulated what would change into some of the necessary, transformational, and enduring ideas within the Strategic Coach program. However in that second, it was simply an unpolished perception. And Bob, the sad man Dan was speaking to, didn’t wish to hear what Dan was saying. As an alternative, Bob stayed within the GAP, and began complaining about Dan’s clarification, declaring why and the way it didn’t apply to him.

Regardless of’s Bob resistance, the opposite entrepreneurs within the room had been utterly blown away by what Dan was educating them. They instantly noticed how the GAP associated to their very own conditions. They may see how the GAP had permeated their lives, and that it was making them depressing.

You’re within the GAP each time you measure your self or your scenario towards a super. For example, you might be on your method to a live performance with your partner that you simply’ve been anticipating, however you’re operating 5 minutes late. In the event you’re centered on and annoyed about these 5 minutes, you then’re within the GAP. You’re measuring your self towards your splendid. You’re not truly dwelling within the second.

All it’s a must to do is shift to the GAIN and give attention to the truth that you’re having an thrilling night time. The entire night time is a GAIN. In the event you give attention to the GAIN, you’ll be joyful.

In each circumstance you’re in, you’re both within the GAP or the GAIN, however you possibly can’t be in each without delay. My spouse, Lauren, makes home-cooked meals for dinner each night time. Generally, our youngsters get to the desk and complain that the meal isn’t their favourite dish. “Are you within the GAP or the GAIN?” I ask them.

They’ve heard it so many instances at this level that typically it truly sinks in. “Thanks for making dinner, mother.”

The reality is, they’ve simply GAINED, proper? They weren’t appreciating the meal in entrance of them— or their lives for that matter—as a result of they had been measuring their expertise towards a super in that second.

Excerpted with permission from The Hole and The Acquire: The Excessive Achievers’ Information to Happiness, Confidence, and Success by Benjamin  Hardy and Dan Sullivan (Hay Home, Inc.; Oct. 19, 2021).