Achieve Happiness by Creating a Life Lie

Reality, when looked at truthfully, is quite depressing. We’re all doomed to tumultuous lives filled with toil and frustration. Most of us won’t live up to our potential. Most of our hopes and dreams will never be realized. Most of us will never become rich or famous or successful.

Just when you think a problem is solved, an uglier one replaces it. The cycle of desperation continues as our faculties decline. We lose our strength and beauty. We become shells of our former selves and eventually die.

Fortunately, thinking about the nasty truth can be averted with a well crafted Life Lie.

How? Luckily it’s easy. If you are relatively happy person, my guess is you already have one.

A Life Lie is a story we tell ourselves. A story we actually believe about our lives that lets us ignore reality and focus on a glorious future. Allow me to provide a background story.

I first learned about the Life Lie (in explicit terms) from reading a play; The Wild Duck by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The main character of The Wild Duck is a man named Hjalmar. By all accounts, Hjalmar is pathetic. His father was ruined by a shady business deal and he’s lived his entire life in shame. His poor family makes a living from a photography business. A business that his father’s arch enemy gave to him out of pity and that his wife runs for all practical purposes.

Useless old Hjalmar should be miserable, but in fact he’s quite the opposite. Despite his pathetic life, Hjalmar is happy because he’s created a beautiful Life Lie.

Hjalmar’s Life Lie is ingenious. He truly believes that he’s going to invent an incredible machine that will make his family wealthy and erase his shame. He doesn’t just tell himself this lie, he actually lives it. Each day he goes off on his own for a few hours, supposedly working on the invention.

What is he really doing? No one knows. It truth, it’s irrelevant. Each day he comes back in high spirits, believing he’s on the cusp of completing the invention and elevating his family.

This is the key to a great Life Life. You can’t just tell yourself a beautiful story. You really have to live the delusion.

After learning about Life Lies, I immediately identified with the concept. Despite myself, I tried to deny it.

I’m different, I thought. I’m no washed up old coot. All my hopes and dreams will come true. Or so I thought. Eventually I realized that it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is being happy, and a great Life Lie accomplishes that.

My Life Lie really isn’t that much different than Hjalmar’s. I believe that if I keep working hard, this blog will become incredibly popular or that I’ll come up with a great idea to make money online. Once I have the money problem taken care of, I’ll be free to indulge my passions for the rest of my life.

I don’t just tell myself this. Every day after work, I come home, boot up my personal computer, and start working on the next blog entry, Photoshop tutorial, redesign, or traffic building activity.

Let’s be real. Is my Life Lie really going to happen? Maybe. It’s not impossible, other people have done it, but success is far from certain. The odds are probably against it.

But that isn’t important. Believing a Life Lie gives my mind something to focus on. I can ignore the pain and uncertainty of life and work towards a goal. I sleep better at night because I know I’ve done my part. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fate.

Sometimes I lose my Life Lie. Reality sets in and it’s incredibly depressing. I feel my smallness, weakness, and the lack of control I have over my life. It’s almost unbearable. Fortunately, I always come up with a new Life Lie.

If you want to be happier, create a fantastic Life Lie for yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think. Convince yourself and start living it. If you’re already happy, keep living the lie.

If you lose faith in your Life Lie, don’t panic. Think about what really makes you happy, create a plan to achieve that happiness, and start working towards the plan. A Life Lie is merely a more accurate description of a life dream.

Thomas Jefferson said that the greater part of our happiness and suffering is caused, not by physical pain or pleasure, but by our hopes and fears. Knowing this, you can make yourself happy and avoid suffering.

By creating a beautiful Life Lie you can fill your life with hope and purpose. You can avert the paralyzing uncertainty of reality. You can live a life of ignorant bliss.

Even if your Life Lie isn’t real, your happiness is. In the end that’s all that matters.

  • http://countercliche.com Dalton Rowe

    I think whether a Life Lie will make you happy or is necessary for happiness depends on your perspective. If you believe that you are somehow special and deserve or expect your dreams to come true, then yes, a Life Lie will make you happy.

    I try to make it my policy, not to expect things to happen, or to have any type of comfort in life. This seems rather harsh and evident of reality depressing nature, or that I’ve given up on something or the other.

    But this is not true. While I do not *expect* my dreams to come true, I will try my hardest to make this come true. Anything that does happen is a bonus and result of my hard work or good fortune.

    Life is in the journey anyways,
    ~Dalton Rowe

  • http://www.best-of-time-management.com/personal-development.htm Pamela

    I agree to what Dalton said. It depends on the person’s perspective. Happiness may come in different form and may be viewed by people differently.

  • marcial

    Why must a ‘life lie’ be a lie? It is only a lie according to a particular worldview, paradigm or ideology. If you are not happy with the depressing results of your current worldview you may want to find a new one.
    Many have gone before you in the sixties when thousands of people traveled the world in search of meaning, nirvana, God, etc.

  • Weebeef

    I still haven’t made my mind up about this blog entry. Are you playing Devil’s advocate. . I read negativity in your thoughts. Pessimism of sorts. Reality isn’t good or bad. It is just that. Reality. We as individuals choose to see it in whichever way we choose it. eg “The Reality about life is that we all die/The Reality about life is that we live until we die” Your post sounded as if you have already decided that life sucks, so we have to manafacture a new reality in our own heads. Of course as individuals we have to. Where else as the human race do we do our conscious living. In our heads/minds. I’m not sure we have to create any life lie to make acceptance of reality any easier. Surely its how we choose to deal with situations that arise through life thats important. Perhaps you perceive someone who is optimistic as selling themselves a life lie. I do hope that your view of life as having to suffer through toil and frustration is not a personal view of your present reality. If so perhaps you should consider giving up this blog. I did say that you might be acting as Devil’s advocate. Thank you for the posting. I have found it most thought provoking.

  • http://www.dreambuilders.com.au Liara Covert

    Your life isn’t a lie unless you believe it is and behave as though you assume it is one. Since emotions and feelings are linked to free will, you can choose for the life you lead to be your truth.

  • Terry

    This is is the sort of world view I had when I was young. It is slowly being replaced by another view. I started to think that life is not a curse that precedes death, but rather an incredible piece of luck that we need to cherish.
    I have no idea what is the meaning of the life, the universe (…). I don’t have that sort of insight and/or delusion. But when I consider these sorts of issues, it occures to me that my existence is due to an incredibly long and amazing train of events. Any little variation in this train of events could have nullified my existence. So, I’m just happy to be here.
    Just a lie I choose to tell myself… ;-)

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thats a nice one Terry. I think I might start using it myself.

  • http://norbert.mocsnik.hu/blog Norbert

    It feels like the biggest pain in the world when your life lie, that made you happy for many years and you believed it’ll last until the end of your life, suddenly becomes impossible forever. Be careful.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You’re right Norbert, that would hurt. But I think that over time you can create a new life lie for yourself, or modify an existing one to make it more believable.

  • Robin

    The devil loves a liar…

  • http://vaindesires.blogspot.com Matt

    Not sure about the particular story, but it’s possible that Ibsen was writing satire here. There are lots of reasons for thinking that happiness is not ALL “in one’s head,” even if perspective is important, or that happiness is all about “how things feel on the inside” (that’s a phrase introduced by Robert Nozick – you should look into his “experience machine” thought experiments).

  • Jonathan

    Life to me is art.
    Its an ongoing creative process.
    Very interactive, and shared. There is no “my life” or “your life”. Just life, and all of us are participants and co-creators.

    Imagination is neither real nor unreal, it is just creativity.
    Fantasy and reality are very connected.
    Without human minds, there would be no real or unreal…we made those things up I think.

    Its also fun to play with analogies. Everyone lives by at least one.
    Life is a school.
    Life is a playground.
    Life is a stadium.

    None are false nor true, but are just how we go about life…they are attitudes.
    Life will be a stadium if being better than others is the center of ones life.
    It will be a school to he/she who chooses to learn from everything they experience. etc

    I think competition is the worst life paradigm

    and so on and so on.

    “reality is outside of me” also rather sucks.

  • http://www.triabulle.com/blog/author/frank Frank

    There is a great danger in believing in this “life lie theory” if you ask me.

    Things become unreachable as soon as you start qualifing them as “lies”.

    Everyone exists to do something… something bigger than what we do in our day to day live. We have to work to get there and we need to really believe that WE WILL get there. And, honestly, the whole point is to effectively GET THERE. Living a life thinking that we probably won’t reach our goals is probably the worst thing we can do to ourselves.

    Dreams are just dreams. Everyone wants to achieve something. Everyone wants to be the being they were born to be. Everyone wants to become that person for real.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

    John, I don’t like your theory at all but I really like the thinking process that it initiates.

  • BillOGoods

    John, this was a masterpiece. You have identified a critical facet in dealing productively with our life: how we think about it. Like Frank, the comments here are as valuable as the point of your post.

    Like others, it’s the word “lie” that needs to be addressed. We’d like to insist it’s semantics. But it’s important if you believe the odds favor accomplishing something from your ambition. If it’s a “lie” you are defeated already and your actions are pointless—it’s self delusion.

    If you are realistic, you know your efforts have a chance to succeed, which means you could fail. You exercise judgment and play the odds or the probabilities of success, giving it your best shot.

    After that, you reassess and either continue, alter your course, or take a different road altogether. If you are living a lie, it doesn’t matter, you continue a mindless delusion.

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  • http://www.autofix.com.au Craig Wilson

    John I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written. Think the way a child thinks – they believe in what’s in their head, they don’t see reality as a boundary and they are so much happier for it. What I got out of your article is that you should never let reality ruin or supress your dreams!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I’d like to thank everyone for their very insightful comments. They have certainly made me rethink my original intentions.

    Many people disagreed with the use of the word ‘lie’. I expected this to happen and it really makes sense. The word ‘lie’ has an extremely negative connotation, and to call our life goals a lie is unpleasant.

    A life lie isn’t necessarily believing that your dreams can’t come true, I think the real ‘lie’ is believing that accomplishing a goal will lead to permanent happiness.

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  • http://www.steve-olson.com Steve Olson

    John,
    I like this post. It’s good. I don’t know if what your are talking is truly a lie. How can a plan for the future be a lie?

    Many people would rather be right than happy. I once read that this is the most common character flaw today. I used to be in that camp. But today… I’d much rather be wrong and happy. What’s the point in being miserable and right? Think about it.

  • http://www.abundantlifestylenow.blogspot.com Wanda Grindstaff

    Dreams are a lie only if you think they are. Visualizing something that is not real, does not necessarily mean it is a lie. As children, we are encouraged to dream. But as adults, we learn that fantasy is not acceptable. But, fantasy is a wonderful thing. Your life truly can be changed by that “lie” you live inside, as long as you hold on to it and give it energy and expectation. There are too many examples in my life of dreams that have manifested from nothing more than holding onto a vivid and emotional lie of them coming true. Not expecting your dreams to come true is giving in to fear. In my world, faith and fear are the same thing, believing in something you can not see. One will destroy you and the other opens the door to unlimited possibilities.

  • http://www.alchemyofacting.com Daniel Roach

    A bleak way of looking at it, but no less true. Life Lies are an essential tool, being about one step beyond setting Goals. This is really thought provoking, I’m going to have to ponder this for awhile. A very interesting post, and you even put it in terms of an Ibsen play . . . Now you’re speaking my language.

    –DanielRo

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  • http://none.com Sarah

    I just chanced upon your entry. It was so intriguing I went ahead and read the “Wild Duck” from beginning to end.
    To me, here’s the thing about a “life lie”…if Hjalmar had ended up actually inventing something, it’s no longer a “life lie” is it? However, it seems his expectations did not quite match the reality of his own skills or circumstances.

  • http://none.com Sarah

    In any case, thank you for the thought-provoking article!

  • John Bellingham

    Have you ever heard of the story of the “lie” told to the hospital patient that brought him so much joy? Despite there being nothing but a brick wall outside the window, the patient closest to the window would tell the other patient all events that were happening at “the park” outside the window. And the patient listening would always look forward to hearing what was happening outside. Is this type of deception really so bad? The patient was given a little hope at the price of a creating a false reality.

  • Adam

    its all about situation and context. a business man can never have progress by creating a lie in which directly effects his business. an unhappy person can however have happiness by creating a lie, only a lie that is about life. what does the person really want in life… isnt it all about us, me, what we want? if all they want is happiness then is it really a lie? is the happiness really a lie, or just context.

  • http://tendrel.blogspot.com tendrel

    mine is easy. It is all my dream anyhow. It is totally up to me how I feel (that part is so not a lie though!). Even when I feel sad or frustrated, I make sure to feel it fully and appreciate it. Then I let it go and be happy again.

    Thanks for the really cool site, can’t believe I just now found it. geesh.

  • penny

    Great classic book on this is:
    “The Philosophy of ‘As If”"

    Will read the suggested Ibsen Play.
    Thanks

  • http://milkchaser.blogspot.com/2007/03/beautiful-life-lie.html Bob White

    Ah, but elsewhere you quote Ben Franklin, “Industry need not wish” and “He who lives on hope will die fasting”.
    http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/ben-franklins-real-way-to-wealth-part-i-industry/

    It seems a contradiction, but I suppose it’s not as you are advocating hope as a motivator to action. Ben would approve, so long as the hope engendered by the “lie” inspires sensible action.

    This post reminds me of Irvin Yalom’s concept of the four givens of existence, concerns we often choose not to acknowledge: death, isolation, meaning in life, and freedom.
    http://www.yalom.com/giftintro.html

    A beautiful life-lie would distract us from these concerns. It is neurotic, but if the neurosis brings happiness, is that a bad thing?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I’m perfectly comfortable contradicting myself, I think one thing one day and then learn something new the next day and change my mind.

    I’ll have to check out Yalom’s article. You dead on with the purpose of the life lie being to “distract us from these concerns”.

  • John White

    You’re right about the life lie. If you want another dramatic experience to work with this concept, you might try Eugene O’Neil’s “The Iceman Cometh”. If you see the movie with Jason Robards and Lee Marvin (and Beau Bridges) you’ll get a real treat.

    I just saw a documentary about Leonard Bernstein. It seems that he was never satisfied with his life’s work…despite the fact that he was world famous and loved by so many people. His life lie drove him to dissatisfaction because he thought he had to create something “important” whatever that meant. A life lie can, therefore, work in the opposite direction.

    I learned of this life lie as I was becoming divorced. It seemed that my ex-wife told the story her way, and it was dragging me way down. I learned to tell the story my way and, voila! I became happier! I don’t know what the truth is, but neither of us knows what that is either.

  • Greg

    Reality is depressing only when you have expectations. Clear your mind of that, accept reality for what it is, and it is stunningly beautiful, astounding, mysterious, wonderful, magnificient, awesome … well, you get the idea.

    You only have to lie if you have to cover-up dissappointment. Dissappointment only occurs if you have expectations that are not met.

    This isn’t my idea — it’s zen, and the work product of many others.

    - Greg

  • penny

    Sometimes, a life lie gives confidence, so that one has the courage to try something very difficult:

    “And, then I ask myself how I have a chance at solving something that Einstein and Dirac and all these other double domes missed, and I try to convince myself that I have some special angle or trick and then–I do it.”—Richard Feynman

    This sort of thing is well described in the seminal book by Bergeson ” The Philospophy of ‘As If’ ‘ “.

    Zen is great stuff ( as is epicurian philosophy and Vedic philosophy) but,
    there is a reason why the western world
    discovered atomic fission, and went to the moon.

    Western culture is based on deflection of energy by these lies from fear of death.
    It was basically invented for this purpose by Parminedes–who was basically a Zen master or Bodisativa.

  • Greg

    Darn, my first reply got munged.

    Penny, I agree with the positive part of your reply and Feynman is a hero of mine. I agree less with the eastern/western stereotyping … it’s a western superiority myth really. There are many examples of their scientific contributions but they are often ignored in western texts.

    Just one example, in 1054 there was a huge supernova which created the crab nebula. Chinese astronomers recorded it, but Europe was so lost in the dark ages they denied seeing it. The eight-fold-way, of great matematical significance to physics came out of Japan. Also, Japan had an a-bomb project at the end of WWII though they were well behind us and really lacked the resources to see it through. Then there’s gunpowder, the precursor to TNT which, in turn, funded the Nobels.

    - Greg

  • http://www.goodcleanlove.com/blog Wendy Strgar

    What you believe is not a lie. It is the inspiration that makes your actions real and the only sane response to a world that is often dark and hopeless feeling. Your thinking is clear and insightful, but you don’t need to call it a lie- the vision doesn’t have to come true for it to be a real vision.
    Keep up the questioning.

  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    Yes, it is a lie of western superority, and it worked for the west which invented
    calculus, the steam engine, radio, electronics, space travel, atomic fission etc.

    Feynman shared his Nobel prize with Schwinger and Tomonaga. Tomonaga was isolated during WWII in Tokyo and did a better job of invented QED then the other two. He was –of course–educated in the western world. He was director of the Japanese A-bomb project, for a while.

    During the dark ages–before the lie of western superiority–China invented the theory of determinates ( in the 10th century), rockets, gunpowder, etc.

    India is more interesting, as they invented
    calculus BEFORE Newton—see ” The Crest of the Peacock” ( Cambridge U press).

    But, Europe running on the idea of systematic science-created by Francis Bacon–( See “The New Organium”) caught up and left all those others in the dust.

    Now, they have learned the mind set and are catching up to us.

  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    The eight fold way was the work of the Israeli physicist Y. Neman. It was an early version of Yang–Mills theory, which came out of Stony Brook Long Island and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.
    It was named the “Eight fold way” in a cutsy allusion to Buddhism by Y.N.

    However, Tomanaga DID do the best work on QED in Tokyo. That was an earlier theory.

  • penny

    India had calculus first, but within a few centuries was way behind Europe in calculus. That is because Europe was systematic and funded teams of mathematicians.

    And –Greece had it before India.

    No country or race is superior in intellect,
    but a hundred first rate ( FUNDED) mathematicians will beat ten first rate mathematicians—most of the time.

    We owe the modern world to Francis Bacon–even more than to Newton.
    We owe the basis of our culture to Parmenides.

  • penny

    China also had the verge and foliate before Europe, and they had better mechanical clocks at first, and they
    had paper and printing.

    India was doing plastic surgury with antisepsis in the seventh century.

    But, Europe invented the airplane, the
    train, the car, the electric motor, television, radio, the vacuum tube, the transistor, the laser, the electronic computer, plastics, space travel…

    It was a MIND SET and a dream, and to a large extent a reified lie.

    And, unlike some other cultures, we opened our universities to the world and gave the secret of our success to EVERYONE.

    Let’s give the western world so earned credit–even if it is nowadays not politically correct.

  • penny

    I type too fast.

  • Greg

    Penny,

    I can’t tell if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me. Perhaps western “superiority” is the very kind of lie this article is about.

    I’ll have to double check on the 8-fold way as I remember a Scientific American article from that time that laid the mathematical origins in Japan, followed up by the physical application in particle physics in Israel later. (Yes, I remember Israel’s contribution).

    You’re obviously educated in science and the western tale of science, but remember who is writing those history books you are reading.

    It reminds me of the old joke, “I used to think my brain was my most important organ, but then I realized who was telling me that”.

    I think the reasons for differences in Western and Easter society, religion, economy, technology, government and so on are just so enormously greater than the contributions of one person like Francis Bacon (I would’ve named Galieo). It just goes much deeper than that.

    Enjoy, greg

  • Adam

    how can you tell if you are living a life lie or not?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Adam,

    I think it all depends on your point of view. Your may really believe that you can accomplish a goal, and rightfully so, but the Life Lie is that achieving this goal will solve all your problems.

    I think the dreams that most people have are usually life lies, at least to some degree. We’re more in love with the idea than the reality of our dreams.

  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    I was agreeing with you.

    The origin of the term eightfold way is that the Lie group ( a mathematical concept invented in Norway in the 19th century) used had eight generators.

    It had nothing to do with Japan.

    But, yes, from time to time non-experts have tried to say that the idea of symmetry ( which is quantified in a very
    deep way by Lie Groups) came from oriential and Islamic art. However, the
    real idea came from Norway–Sophius Lie.

    To develop Lie Groups one needs 19th century level math and quite a lot of genius. And, it was Emmy Noether in the early 20th century who realized how it could be the BASIS for modern physics.

    Yes, historians distort reality–you are very correct in that. Popular Science magazines are even worse! Beware of Scientific American.

    Although the western world was quite different from the orient, I still hold that the crucial difference was that the west followed Bacon’s ideas. Of course, why they did was part of the big difference you mention.

    Now that other places ( such as China) are following the same plan, they are catching up FAST.

    I also wanted to say that it is politically in now to BASH the western world. But, the western world made incredible technical and scientific progress and then proceeded to SHARE the results, the methods, and the EDUCATION with the rest of the world. For this, the western world deserves quite some graditude.

  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    I have also taught the multicultural history of math at the university level.

    I am more willing than most western
    science people to accept and propagate the Indian work on calculus etc.

    But, the progress of the western world in science and math over the last five hundred years is immense. It would be a horrible distortion to forget that.

    More progress ( by a thousand times) had been made in math in the last hundred years than in the previous five thousand years. Most of that has been done by the Western world.

    That is RAPIDLY changing. The great contribution of the non-western world to math will be written in the FUTURE.

    Similarly in science and tech: Microscope, telescope, cyclotron, electronic computer, space travel,
    thermodynamics, atomic fission,
    quantum mechanics, general relativity,
    quantum field theory, television, Maxwell’s equations, electron microscope
    plasma physics, Navier Stokes equations,
    internal combustion engine, statistical mechanics, differential geometry, group theory, stochastic calculus, functional analysis, Hilbert Space, Banach Space,
    Galois Theory, Physical Optics, Partial Differential Equations, Algebraic and Differential Topology, spectoscope,
    geiger counter, Field ion Microscope,
    jet plane, airplane, railroad, telegraph,
    fax machine, internet, phonograph etc…

    All invented by the ……Western World!!

  • Greg

    Penny,

    Thanks. Emily Noether a woman so under-appreciated because of the gender bias. Re: the Lie group, isn’t that related to SU(3) and didn’t Lee and Yang win a nobel for their work with that group just prior to Gell-Mann et al’s work? I think that was the chinese connection (albeit they were western educated) that I had in mind.

    Obviously by triggering you to write on this topic I have tapped into a wonderful resource.

    Thanks so much for your comments.

    - Greg

  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    Yes, it is related to SU(3) which a Lie
    Group.

    Indeed, Lee and Yang, and Gell-Mann were all players here.

    all best
    Penny

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Greg and Penny,

    Thanks for the great discussion. Most of it has been lost on me, but the parts I did understand have been very educational.

  • Greg

    How interesting that a discussion of the life lie lead us to the mathematical lie (group). :)

    And, it would appear that Penny may actually be writing those history books I disparaged, LOL.

    As to the original topic, if I have a life lie, it is science. But of course I deny that it is a lie. But isn’t that mandatory if you’re really going to believe your lie?

    Sometimes my head hurts. Like right now. But I do not believe this is a lie.

    - Greg

  • Greg

    A friend suggested I post this. Among my life’s lies are that I am smart and very knowledgeable (in an amateur’s way) about science.

    In reality, this is fairly true (IQ 160ish, read a lot) but there’s always someone smarter or better read.

    But before the internet I was a big fish in a small pond (well, let’s say a great lake) but now I’m in the ocean.

    The minute we expose our ego someone smarter or more knowledgeable comes along, and whack-a-mole our ego/lie takes a hit.

    I expressed all this to him in poetic shorthand by saying, “Oh vanity, behold the internet and know thy death”.

    He insisted I should post that. Now I stand exposed, but it’s not that bad, really, or is that just the next lie?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I’m not sure why the reply got cut off. There might be a length limit, like a set number of characters.

    I like that quote. Although it feels like defeat to abandon our vanity, it is also liberating. We can be ourselves without having to live up to impossible standards of genius.

  • http://tendrel.blogspot.com tendrel

    Greg – we have the same IQ – wow.
    tell me more…

  • Greg

    Tendrel

    re: IQ — I was lying … it seemed apropos. The truth is I do not know. It’s been measured several times but no one would tell me anything other than “very high”. I said “140?” and they just said “higher” in a strange tone of voice. I doubt it is “genius” though I’ve been accused of that. The truth is, and this one is not a lie, I don’t care all that much. I just enjoy using it. Whatever it may be.

    Gosh this topic has turned into a bare-your-soul confessional to me. Thank goodness it’s not in public somewhere.

    - g

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I tend to think IQ is overrated, or any type of intelligence test for that matter. How can you sum up a person’s entire intelligence with a number?

    I don’t know my IQ either, but if I did, would the score make my thoughts and ideas any more or less valid?

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  • penny

    Dear Greg,
    As John says, IQ is overrated for the reason that he gives: One can’t really reduce a complex thing like Intelligence to a single number.

    As to the other issue: Just say: “Somewhere in all of space and time there must be at least one
    entity SMARTER than me ( or any current human). If not, that’s pretty sad.”
    So, trying to be the absolute smartest is poison.

    I learned this the hard way–as I was
    a child “prodigy” and as a mathematician I am constantly involved with people who are real geniuses. People with Fields medals etc. Even they can get intimidated by the one-up-ship of comparison.

    The important thing is to enjoy your intelligence.
    Penny

    ” If Dick is the smartest man in the world, we are in BIG trouble”–Mother of Richard Feynman on seeing him so described on the cover of Life.

    ” I am NOT an Einstein”–A.E.

  • http://WorkatHomeMomRevolution Lisa Mills

    I like it. ;)

  • Greg

    Lisa, Penny,

    So do I.

    - g

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/ John Wesley

    Thanks guys :). It’s amazing, this comment thread has taken on a life of its own.

  • wowmir

    I strongly disagree with you happyness can only be achieved by tell the truth first to your self then t o the world . If you live a lie your inner self will always know about it and will hurt like a dull pain . You may get used to the dull pain but it will eat you up inside.
    Trust me I have been there I have/trying to change my ways.

  • http://www.medicalassistantnet.blogspot.com Danni R.

    All I can say:

    I got the point… really; I did! And therefore, I don’t need to pull the whole thing apart to focus on one part of the entire phrase “Life Lie”.

    It’s a great analogy. I can relate. Even better, the Life Lie DID work out for me. I am doing quite well with my “Life Lie” endeavors. It took seven years… but today I am making a very comfortable living. Like they say: “If you believe it, you can do it”. It begins with a dream.

  • Greg

    What about taking this conversation to a different aspect of the topic. What do you think of the life lies of, say, Adolf Hitler, Richard Nixon, or Don Imus? A Of spouse-beater or an addict?

    Can self-lies be dangerous (of course). Is there really any reason to think they are more likely to be positive than negative?

    Is there a way to test our lies (seems almost contradictory) and assure they are helping not hurting?

    Just some thoughts …

    - Greg

  • Trent Wray

    Excellent observation Greg. It would seem that Hitler, Nixon, and Imus are basing their personal truths on lies, and so they really are Life Lies. However, a Life Lie based on truth is something else —– it’s hope.

    A very fine line indeed.

  • Frank Lucas

    Truth and lies are opinions based upon conclusions of associated memory. Truth and lies only exist in man’s head. They don’t exist in reality.

  • Greg

    Frank, so what you’re saying, it really isn’t true is it? It’s an opinion. Yes?

  • Trent Wray

    Truth and lies might be figments of man’s imagination, but philosophy of that nature isn’t very practical ———- mankind still operates off of truth and lies or variations thereof. Thus we have a legal system, science, medicine, facts, and falsehoods,etc. We are able to drive automobiles, seek happiness, destroy —- have religion, Gods, beliefs. I won’t murder your child because it’s “wrong”. You will not cheat me because this is “right”. These opinions, for example, are held to be “true” on a large scale.

    This is because we believe in concepts of truth and lies, right and wrong —- and it doesn’t look like these will go away anytime soon on a mass scale.

    There is of course the great equalizer —— death. Most religion has something to do with what happens to man after his eventual death, thus determining what set of truth and lies we live by. Most beliefs in a God, Architect, or some force governing events of our existence base themselves in concepts of truth and lies guiding our choices of “right and wrong”. In the end after our death, we are either answerable to a moral death or we are not. The choices we made in our lives, based on our opinions of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies —– will either have a consequence or they will not.

    But practically, our choices have consequences on all scales, and thus we have multitudes of systems governing our behavior towards each other. Law, in other words. So, once again, the idea that truth and lies are merely figments of mans imagination makes for an interesting mental excercise ——- and may be “true” ——- but practically this does not play out in global society.

  • Greg

    Frank,

    So things are “True or False” when it’s convenient and “Opinions” when it’s not? How appropriate that is to this very topic!

    Myself, I’m still stuck on whether 1+1=2 is A) discovered, B) invented, C) defined, or D) opinion.

    I like to reduce such questions to really simple cases like that, because if I can’t answer them, what good is my thinking on the complex ones like, “is bacon safe to eat?”

    Penny?

  • Greg

    Oh wait, you’re talking about “moral” truth and lies versus “factual” truth and lies. I didn’t catch that the first time I read your entry. I consider all moral truths/lies to just be abstractions of evolutionary imperatives. I consider the meaning of 1+1 to be a different question. Or is it? :)

  • Tim

    John Wesley’s “Life Lie” theory is manifestly flawed. And, moreover, to grant it the status of being advisory is extremely dangerous. Following the recommendations of this theory will not result in true happiness.

    The fact of the matter is that if one is, in fact, happy then one cannot help but believe, truly, that one is happy. One cannot choose to accurately believe that one is truly happy because the truth of this belief is necessarily dependent on one being, in actuality, truly happy. Thus, if my belief that I am happy is true then, necessarily, I am happy; if this belief is false then, necessarily, I am not happy. Hence, happiness cannot be created by constructing false beliefs of happiness because the very fact that these beliefs are false necessarily entails that the state of ‘happiness’ created by them will be, likewise, false. If a mental state is false then this means that it doesn’t exist in the sense that one thinks it does – i.e. the state of ‘happiness’ that Wesley claims to have achieved is not, despite what he says, “real”. This is simply because Wesley’s conception of happiness is not that of true happiness, rather it is, and has to be, according to the fundamental propositions of his theory, false (i.e. not) happiness. Hence, Wesley’s theory necessarily cannot possibly lead to a state of true, existent, happiness.

    True happiness is actually achieved when one becomes intrinsically happy i.e. happiness of the self in-its-self. The instrumental state happiness which Wesley advocates is a state of ‘well being’ which is artificial whilst also being completely dependent upon certain imaginary goals and the false belief that one can achieve those goals. This is not the true happiness of the self for such a state of mind is necessarily dependent upon factors over which the mind has no control and cannot possibly experience.

    One will only ever become happy by achieving happiness on one’s own – this involves understanding what it is to exist as a person and to interact with reality as one‘s true self. Understanding is necessarily undermined by falsehoods, thus lying to oneself will always be detrimental to one’s intrinsic state of happiness.

    Probably the phrase “ignoring a problem will never make it go away” sums up my standpoint best . Sorry for this rant but I really believe that theories such as Wesley’s are immensely detrimental and must be avoided. And please, if anyone who has read this is wants to become happier in life then simply read ‘The Conquest of Happiness’ by Bertrand Russell – this will improve your life immeasurably and helps to show (with greater clarity than I could ever manage) why Wesley’s theory is completely wrong.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You could be right.

  • Greg

    @John. LOL, how Voltaire-ish (Candide to be specific). And now I have a garden to hoe.

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  • http://www.boinc-indians.net Ninad

    Your life lie is generally known as optimism :-)

  • http://westallen.typepad.com/idealawg Stephanie

    John, the life lie reminds me of the technique of “acting as if.” Do you know of it? I described it in this post:

    http://westallen.typepad.com/idealawg/2007/04/selfleadership_.html

    I have sent the link to your post on to a number of people.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Stephanie,

    I actually hadn’t heard of that technique, but the name sound very interesting. I’ll have to check out that post you suggested. Thanks for sharing with your friends. too!

  • gw

    the real lie is that there is a specific “purpose” to life. some sort of key or puzzle that people need to figure out. we just need to find our own purpose since our liesure time has increased and we don’t just need to survive. the purpose of life used to be.. to stay alive! there’s some internal mechanism built into most living things to survive and procreate. evolution hasn’t quite caught up yet, so we need to find other purposes. it’s not a lie. it’s paying respect to the gift of life by finding reasons to live.

    btw.. bravo on the site. very good reading. i hope that you achieve a level of success that gives you pride in achieving your dream and the inevitable challenge of “what to do next”.

  • gw

    i also wanted to add that it’s my belief that being unflinchingly honest with oneself can be the most challenging and rewarding aspect of life.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    gw,

    I agree with your thoughts on the purpose of life, and especially about being honest with oneself. Lie may not be the right word exactly, but being happy seems to require a bit of self deception, or at least the ability to bear the ugly parts of life.

    I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed the reading and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

  • pillophyte

    Well, it looks like your life lie is coming true. I’ve never seen so many posts to such a depressing, ridiculous notion (and I’m guilty of helping to propagate the lie also, it would seem…)

  • http://tehpaper.com Christopher

    This post must have taken a lot of courage. I’ve heard it said that there’s a fine line between intelligence and craziness — no only does this post shed the stigma of ‘living a lie,’ the post stares it down eye-to-eye. Bravo.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Christopher,

    Are you calling me crazy? :)

    Thanks a lot, I’m glad you found it interesting. Out of all the comments I’ve gotten, this might be my favorite.

  • http://www.mentalhealthnotes.com alicia

    I don’t buy this at all. :)

    While the term “life lie” seems to fit for the character in the play (only because we don’t know what he ventures off to do), it doesn’t fit at all for what you’ve described. You describe your dreams for yourself and your website. Once you get home from work, you begin working on achieving those dreams – or goals – whatever we’re going to call them.

    So, how are you living a life lie? You’re not lying, you’re actually doing it. It’s truth because you’re consciously working toward it. It’s a goal, not a lie.

    In my opinion – given your definition – a life lie would be telling yourself you’re going to be the next great race car driver, or whatever, but never working toward actually becoming the next great race car driver. In this situation, you’re sort of lying to yourself because deep down you know if you never work toward your dream or goal, it’s never going to materialize.

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  • http://www.freewebs.com/dragonwaregames JL

    I’m still not sure of how to interpret this post, whever I label something as a lie I usually lose interest because it’s not a part of reality.

    I personally have much more success when I am 100% certain that I will be sucessful in what I do. When I have a goal that I’m not sure I could achive, I dump it or don’ t work on it for a while because I know conflicting thoughts will kill the goal, so any energy I put into it would be wasted.

    I couldn’t live with myself trying to lie that I would be sucessful with [insert random project here]. Yes, happiness is found along the road and not at the end, but it can make people feel incredibly worthless if they hadn’t really accomplished anything of value in their life. IMHO, genuine happiness that comes from knowing you did something great is much more gratifing than just trying to convince yourself that you’re happy.

  • BillOGoods

    “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” says the brilliant W. Clement Stone. Using the word “lie” hangs us up. It’s like Julie Andrews singing her sage advice to “whistle a happy tune” so no one will know “I’m afraid.” Is that a lie? We are representing to others a false front. When an athlete imagines the perfect ski run or home run swing so when they actually go perform “for real” they are confident they will achieve flawlessly.

    “Lying” to ourselves is it a legitimate “tactic” or strategy that humans use to reflect, advance, and achieve. To ignore it in any undertaking is foolish. To get hung up that it’s “lying” is mis characterizing the purpose of the strategy.

  • http://www.wizcodersolution.com Bob Ong

    This is looking at glass half-full. Happiness is how you look at it

  • Tani

    I believe in Life Lie.Imagine a person in depression or temporary anxiety disorder, where the way you percept the word and ideas is very strange and real ,if He or she do not tell self that “this is not true”, or” I am not scared” when he is scared to death for no reason , that’s the end of it,
    Or, I have observed that my wife is happier after visiting some stores with beautiful things ,home furnishing ,mercedes car dealership etc , without buying or planing to buy , she just dreams she is going to have such things, that makes her very happy,
    This is life lie because, considering our age and incomes she never will going to get that kind of stuff, but still she is happier.
    What about fantasizing during sex, where couples have more pleasure?Isn’t that a LIE?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You make a good point. Our fantasies, especially the ones that are unlikely to come true are Life Lie’s in a sense. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with a good fantasy if it makes you happier.

  • BillOGoods

    Tani and others that endorse this concept are right on the mark.

    This concept is so important to anyone’s ability to achieve anything difficult that the doubters in this post must be set right. A name for this strategy like “life lie” can only be understood as a proverbial “attention getter.” Your imagery, fantasy, concept, or construct—whatever you want to call it—has to be an image that you think is possible—not necessarily probable—to attain. Hell, if we ran our lives only seeking the probable, we’d be running Monte Carlo analysis on everything.

    You can’t be such a “concrete” or unimaginative person to set aside “self-talk” or this type of “imagery,” powerful techniques, because you are telling yourself a “lie.” It’s not so. No soldier would ever go over the hill in battle without “self-talk” or “imagery” that’s positive, setting aside fear.

    The “life lie” is merely creating the “reality” that you want to pursue. It’s your reality and nobody can call that a lie.

    Teach this technique to your children, along with persistence and tenacity, and they cannot help but be successful in life.

  • http://Swallowbrook.com GregRobert

    re: This concept is so important to anyone’s ability to achieve anything difficult that the doubters in this post must be set right.

    Now there’s a good example of a life lie :) :)

  • http://www.mentalhealthnotes.com alicia

    I can’t understand how a “fantasy” could be a life lie. It’s a fantasy. Hence, the name.

  • jheann

    hmmp I think happiness is within ur reach..

    bcoz u r da one hu r makin ur self happy..

    the only differnt between gud en bad dayz iz just ur attitude ryt,,

    so if u wnt to have a happy life live it weLl to ur fullest en dnt waste it,,

    • GregRobert

      If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
      Never make a pretty women your wife
      Go for my personal point of view
      Get an ugly girl to marry you

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  • Ben Barnett

    Since I’m four months behind surfing to this post, I don’t expect this comment to checked, but it might be useful to someone else who reads through all the comments later.

    Try not to think about the life lie superficially. Why would we tell ourselves a story about our lives to help us look at a “glorious future” instead of the present? It seems that we believe happiness to be linked to achievement. More than that, we believe it to linked to a -notable- achievement.

    Why is that particular belief any less a lie? It sets us up to fail our own expectations. As mentioned above, the Internet and globalization make it impossible to be the top dog, but what does that actually have to do with being happy? Wikipedia aside, notability isn’t really what matters unless we’re looking for validation. Isn’t happiness more than that?

    The spotlight isn’t what gives our lives meaning, but realizing we’re never going to be on the main stage that everyone else is constantly talking about seems depressing to most people. Looking at the rich and famous, you can see patterns of alcoholism, drug abuse, and overindulgence that indicates that achieving the obsessive dream doesn’t fill their emptiness.

    Why not pull up the self-justifications by the root? It seems better to face what’s indisputable: death is the inevitable end of life. The one moment you have the chance to experience is now. Hiding from that experience is dying before your time: your life is happening without you. The most important person in your life is who you’re with right now. The most important task in your life is what you’re doing right now. There will never come a point when you’ve “succeeded” enough to stop worrying, so why wait till then to live?

    Consider whether it’s better to fight one root lie with a life lie, or to focus your attention on the only real contact point you have with reality: this moment. When you do, life often becomes more manageable and definitely more satisfying.

    _Groundhog Day_ makes the point better than I can.

  • Leah

    I agree with this concept. However, the title Life Lie takes away from it. It is just like viewing a goal or a dream and striving to accomplish it. I have dealt with an unhappy marriage for 26 years. What kept me going, since I feel divorce can be more work, is living with a hope for holy scriptures inform me. It tells me soon, according to God’s time, wickedness will be wiped out from the earth and only humble, meek ones will be forever upon it. It is brought up several times (look up Psalms 37, Daniel 2:44, etc.) from the Hebrew all the way to the end of the Greek scriptures. That will be my release, if nothing else. Call it a Life Lie. I call it reality and there are other things we can do to reach Life Reality.

  • Alissa

    Hi John,

    I loved this post. I do this routinely in my life, and, as you say, it keeps me happy when reality doesn’t measure up. Often our dreams do not measure up to what we imagined anyway (I have experienced this several times myself), so a “life lie” is as good as anything to work towards. Most people indulge in some form of this anyway, with statements such as “if I had enough time, I’d write a novel,” etc., when in fact they would probably never do so or would start and then give it up when they realized what it really involved.

  • http://www.Swallowbrook.com GREG ROBERT

    First line of the base post: Reality, when looked at truthfully, is quite depressing. When I read that again just now I realized that it encodes an impossibility. Reality can’t be depressing; reality is just what it is. “Depression” is a subjective response to how we perceive reality against our values, expectations, and desires. So the depression arises, presumably, out of a mismatch between our (very colored) perception of reality and our expectations. Since perceptions aren’t (objectively) real, and since they are, in a sense, ALWAYS a lie, what the heck, just mold them in a way that makes you happier.

    Why is it that what I just said, while logically true, is emotionally unsatisfying? Oh, right, because the logic part is reality and the emotional part is subjective and never the twain shall meet.

  • BillOGoods

    Greg, brilliant. I would say that “perceptions,” while not objective, are also not “in a sense, ALWAYS a lie . . . .” Perceptions of reality can often be correctly obtained through logic or emotions—even if logic or emotions brought us to our correct perception by luck. What we don’t always “know” before hand, however, is if our perceptions, no matter how obtained, are accurate. I think logic and reason bring us closer to a reliable perception of reality than any other method. But, we can still be wrong in or logical reasoning and premises. Otherwise, with that knitpicking observation, well said.

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com farouk

    i agree with you but id rather call it a dream than a life lie

  • nerm nerm

    well i must say i disagree
    not with the lying to yourself part cause in some situations i suppose that is necessary or at least reasonable
    but in that happiness is all that matters
    i personally do not seek out happiness
    and even in this depressing life it manages to find me
    i have no need to lie to myself cause i know the probability of all my dreams coming true is very unlikely but even so i will have fun on the ride to where ever life tosses me

  • Reality

    when your living in a dream, its different then having a dream. the guy in the story, he was just lying to himself, and not taking real opportunities. the workshop was really a physical place of his depression. because, he also knew he never would BUT just didnt kno how to.. its not a never ending rotation of living a lie, knowing your living a lie, theres and end, and thats success.

  • Reality

    hey leah, wanna hook up?

  • Reality

    GREG, you might have high iq, but ure still an idiot..LOL (mocking) lol.

  • Reality

    john wesleys and idiot also.

  • Greg

    Ah, nature smiles upon us by presenting an excellent example of someone living a lie. She gives us the poster “Reality”, who enjoys finding self clever.

  • Reality

    witty, i could write a parody. thats exactly what i just said to you

  • http://www.freshcutinteractive.com Doug

    I found your post by googling “business lies vs life lies,” because I heard someone use the term “business lies” on a movie preview I saw yesterday – sorry, can’t remember the movie.

    Your post is thought provoking – what about when someone tells you that they are doing something, let’s say in a business situation, that you expect of them, but in reality they are not following through? Is this a “business lie” that’s ok, like the Life Lie, because the person lying is convinced he is going to do the thing he’s lying about? So is this person, the business liar, compared to the Life Liar, better, worse, or the same?

    Are all those people who I’ve worked with and said they were going to do something, and didn’t, lying because they thought it was OK since it was only business, so didn’t consider lying bad in business; or because they intended to do the work but couldn’t get themselves to do it for other reasons (incompetence, lazyness, working on too many other projects, depressed, etc.)

    d

  • http://www.TherapeuticReiki.com/blog Astrid Lee

    Actually, I have found that having a life’s lie works to create that lie becoming a reality. I call these ‘lies’ affirmations, or seeds that can germinate within you and grow into new realities.

    In addition, I would like to comment that while the pursuit of happiness is admirable, happiness out of ignorance is not bliss.

    • Sanja

      This isn’s the question of if you would rather know and be miserable or be ignorant and happy…it is about how much everything (reality) is actually how we see it and feel it. It is not what happens, but how we react to it, and we react usually how we feel…So, I must say, I love this article, and I hope the author indeed becomes famous, successful and rich!

  • chris

    An interesting article and one that makes a lot of sense.

  • Craig Malone

    To the writer of this blog……Bravo…nothing else to say….he said it all.

  • joshua

    yeah – i did this. i thought at 15 during the tech boom i’d be one of those kid smart guys you heard about on cnet…. the next bill gates… i still live that life lie and all i do is use the computer to masturbate.

    • Jennifer

      lmao

  • http://www.mindmotivations.com giovanni

    Hi
    I Read an Article on Philosophy on life and happiness,It is a great read and very interesting approach to a mindset .It has very good outlooks,which I believe after reading the article I can see how the tools that are intertwined in this article can allow this to help.Have a read and give me your thoughts .
    http://www.mindmotivations.com/resources/articles/philosophy-life-amp-happiness
    At the end of the day even if you get one thing out of the article it is an advanced in moving forward and growing as a person.As they say, school is about lessons first then you get tested and life is about the test to learn the lesson.
    Cheers
    Giovanni

  • http://ruff kevin mbugu

    i want to join u

  • Matt Jackson

    This article didn’t really feel right to me, somehow lying to yourself seems very negative and I don’t believe you would really be that much happier if you were, say trying to invent a machine, but after hours of trying each day making absolutely no progress.

    What your doing is very different I think, you have set a laudable goal and your doing a good job of going about achieving it, you have a blog with lots of interesting information on it and you are making a difference to some people. Your not lying to yourself.

    As for Thomas Jefferson I think that the most damaging thing is aiming for a goal, creating a machine, and then lying to yourself that what you are doing now, disappearing into a work shed for a few hours a day, is going to take you there and unfortunately I think that’s what a lot of people do

  • Qwick

    Ahhhh… no one ever knew what goes on inside the mind of a loser – until now!! lmao

  • dkjdedfek

    I can not believe what I am reading. Have I awoken on another planet? You, with the pointy ears, get a life! My goodness, have we all descended to the live’s of cock roaches! People, take some responsibility for your life.

  • http://www.seekselfesteem.com Richard Morden

    The reverse it true because many people have very good lives and come home each day in misery because that’s what they choose to focus on. By creating this life perhaps a false one some good things are bound to happen. We often want to judge our life or others by outward appearance but it really is whats on the inside between our ears.
    Boost Your Esteem

  • http://www.facebook.com/monette.dumandan monette dumandan

    life isn’t fair,, some lives happily in their living.
    others were not. they just depend on how life goes, even if it doesn’t work at all. the author did a great idea on conveying how a certain person want’s to be happy. and in order to be happy, the just commit LIFE LIE.. :) there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you are trying to reach that wonderful life lie you wanted to have … GREAT job,, nice article..

  • neil

    Your brain can lie to you all you want but your heart knows the truth – advocating self delusion? This is terrible advice.

  • DT

    At first, this didn’t feel right to me either, BUT after giving it further thought, I understand …. it all boils down to what we choose to FOCUS on. It’s only delusional because there’s so much negativity in this world, and we’re choosing not to factor that in.

  • http://customizedfatlossreview.net Jack’s Customized Fat Loss

    well…. it’s not actually a lie but for me it is called “dreaming”. i consider it dreaming so i could strive to be the best.

    - jack leak

  • Nnaava

    Best article ever! Thanks!
    And by the way..I think yo lie is working coz yo blog is really popular! Well…..i like it and visit it allooooootttt.
     

  • NONNEEE

    no its all bullcrap. This way is even worse then admiting the truth about reality. Creating a life lie is lying to yourselfand the cracks appear more often thenwhenyour just honest. It hurts bad when your life life falls apart like a thump to the ground.

  • Anonymous

    I love this because the more people who subscribe to this kind of mentality (and a lot of people do, even if they don’t realize it) increases my chances of being successful. Eliminates the competition, you know?

    • anonymous

      What’s interesting is that if someone does in fact subscribe to this kind of mentality they wouldnt really care if they, or you, are “successful”. The only thing that matters is if they are happy, no matter how that happens. You on the other hand get your happiness from success, which a lot of times is derived from the opinions of others and is therefore out of your control. A good example of this would be a placebo. Believing it will work may actually cure symptoms, while not believing it will work probably won’t. Objectively it seems crazy to benefit from a placebo, but which would you rather be: the one whos symptoms are gone or the one whos symptoms are still there? Living with a life lie is a placebo that can get rid of pain and depression if you truly believe in it, even though it seems strange.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Wetzel/1108462190 Keith Wetzel

    There are many Life Hopes (aka Life Lies) that can never be proven with absolute certainty.  A hope/lie requires an inability to be proven with certainty.  The key to happiness is being able to deal with the uncertainty in your Life Hope/Lie.  We are obligated to determine the probability of the hopes/lies and discard the ones with low probability.  I guess that is my daily question.  Has what I’ve learned or believed today raised or lowered the probability of my Hope?  The tension created when my favorite Hope suffers a blow is motivation for more learning.  I deal with uncertainty with a quest for more learning but the result is sometimes I’ll never know until it’s too late to change my direction.  Then I fall back onto the probability test again.  I’m happy when I think I’ve learned something that leads toward the ‘most probable’ Hope.

  • Mira

    yeah, you blog is really good so I don’t think you have a Life Lie – you have a dream coming true :))So keep going, I’m pleased reading it :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/jim.maclean Jim Maclean

      If I thought this was a viable option I would become religious.
      I dissagree with this completly, it will generate self centered and vapid outlook on the world.

  • Santos

    This approach is dangerous. There are real horrors and evils to be addressed in living in the world, and allowing oneself to live in delusion instead makes on vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation. 

  • http://screw9-5.blogspot.com/ Screw9to5man

    To be honest the thought of living a lie is kind of depressing. The idea that you could be working towards a dream that is unlikely to ever be fulfilled. For me, I couldn’t think like that. I kind of know what you’re saying. “The journey is more important than the destination”, or something like that. For me though, I have to believe that what I’m working towards WILL happen, it HAS TO happen. It’s that important for me. 

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  • Bill Hatfield

    Great article!  Studys show that depressed people have a much more realistic view of their life and the possibilities than average people do. That says to me that self-delusion (conscious or unconscious) is a requirement of any level of on-going happiness.

  • Philip Lanphar

    This method sounds like a cheap solution to a more serious problem… Trying to escape reality by telling yourself a lie is ultimately adding to your depression. I suggest to stop running, regroup and face your problems head on but with more focus and direction. Reality can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow but true satisfaction in life comes from being honest with oneself no matter how ugly it might be.

  • Anoniraya

    I wouldn’t call it a lie. But more of a way of “tricking” your mind into a different mindset. It gives your mind focus and drive to work towards a goal, and although there is no guarantee to success, its better than just giving up being victimised and having a lousy attitude over your circumstances.

  • Olivia

    I call that Ambition.:)

  • Gunnar

    “Even if your Life Lie isn’t real, your happiness is. In the end that’s all that matters.”

    No! That’s not good enough. There is more to life than happiness and feeling good, and besides these feelings are finite and superficial, they go away.

    I was taught not to lie my life through success. I’ve made promises to myself since childhood that I would not, and it is so hard but I have kept my promises. Else, I would be lying to myself and I could not live with that. I could not go one day with it!  I would lose my mind, one’s faith, one’s devotion, integrity, belief in myself, to care, to feel, and I would rather go through a million bouts of depression than to lie to myself. So I repel your advice. The advice of cheap snakes in the grass!

    • am29

      What’s more important in life than feeling good and being happy, and acting as a positive role model for other people? Take it easy on yourself, you’re a strong person, but you’re beating yourself with your own strength. Being happy is important. You’re not inspiring anyone by being hard on yourself and sticking to your guns even though they’re out of bullets.

  • L Kcovington

    Consider “life is but a stage and we are all but players”. We all present a self made persona to those we meet and know. It all begins the first time we get in trouble as a child. We learn that something we present is unfavourable to others and begin developing and portraying “ourselves” to others. This is the very fabric of a lot of religions. To continue, being perfectly honest with ourselves is not always tasty and easier to accept the way we want others to see us. The mere fact that we have self awareness demands it!

  • Fedre Gkz

    but sometimes if you live a lie, and never touch the truth, without that wake up call you don’t ever get to come up with a better plan.

  • Brian

    Wow this  is such a remarkable post. I’ve been doing this for years, but I’ve never realized it. I personally have dreams of becoming a very successful musician. There will be days I’m living my best, and days I’m broken down thinking I’m not good enough. I think I will save this article to read every month.

  • Thebatcave

    This is all subject to interpretation
    of course. The problem that a few commenter on here have with it is really
    nothing more than semantics. If it were called “create a life dream” much fewer
    would have responded in a negative way. They hear the word lie and instantly
    preach about how awful and dangerous this is for you.

    For those of you who think that there
    is more to life than being happy, well, name it. I’ll save you the trouble, you
    really can’t and here is why…when you talk about having a positive influence
    on others, doing charity work, raising children, whatever, surprise…you do
    these things because that it what makes you happy. You do the right thing
    because that is what makes you happy. If you are doing things that make you
    unhappy on purpose, then you my friend are the one who is in danger and needs
    help.

    His life does not need to match your
    expectations of what life should be. In example…My own brother, the man fell
    ass backwards into a lot of money relatively early on in his life. Enough that
    he will never have to work. He does NOTHING constructive all day. He reads,
    watches TV, naps, works out, shuffles around the house and will take one of his
    classic cars for a drive around town. In my eyes, this is a waste of life, I
    think of all the places I would go, things I would see stuff I would do, but not
    Brian, he has no interest in any of that.

    He has no interest because he is
    happy with what he does and how he lives, truly happy. So what am I supposed to
    do..force the things on him that make me happy? Tell him he is wasting his life
    because what he is doing is not what I would do?

    If any of you want to live a
    miserable life and do things that do not make you happy, then that is up to you
    of course. You will die just like the rest of us, except those of us that know
    how to be happy will have lived a much fuller life than those who did
    not.

    So yes, it is about happiness and the
    way you get to that is up to you. Maybe you’re happy working hard for little pay
    and giving away what you do make. To me personally, that sounds like no fun, but
    who the heck am I to shove what makes me happy down your throat. That’s right,
    nobody.

    It’s a lot like religion, many who
    feel you have the wrong faith will try to impose their faith on you, because
    they feel you are wrong. Thing is, they don’t really know for sure whether
    you’re right or wrong, the important thing to them is that they are right. Same
    goes for happiness, if a person feels TRUE happiness in what he or she is doing
    (even if it’s a mental state or dream) why feel the need to shove you’re
    perspective of happiness on them? I’ll tell you why, because you want to feel
    right about what your version of happiness is and if anyone does it different,
    then they are wrong.

    Open your mind, calm down and give
    things some thought beyond your own life choices and what you feel makes you
    always right.

    • Jennalemon

      Striving for your own happiness might be a good goal if it is only you in your world.  How does that wife who has to run the photography business AND take care of a family feel while he is off in his life lie? Do you think she is happy with her lazy happy husband? Do you think she appreciates and adores him?  So she can tell herself her own life lie, right?  That he is going to do right by her some day? That it is OK that he uses her to enable his irresponsibility?   This might work for the working years while they both divert themselves.  One day both of them will look back at their lives and KNOW how it really went and what sillies they were to keep themselves small and deluded.  They will resent each other and themselves for being so silly and not striving for what IS important.   What is more important than happiness?  Love, Honor, Peace, Faith. 

  • guest

    Practicing mindfulness is a good start to encourage healthy
    states of mind. Hopes and dreams may even become irrelevant to your state of
    mind through this practice, unencumbered you are then truly free to pursue
    them.

  • Calumnmcaulay

    This is an interesting perspective that makes a lot of sense one which I can relate to.. And I do realise that what about to mention may sound like the ‘life lie’ you speak of however many of the greatest minds on the planet are working hard to greatly extend human life span with various types of technologies – it has been speculated that by 2045 we will have multiplied the intelligence of our human machine civilisation by a billion fold resulting in what is called a singularity. Human machine because we, essentially will not be able to discern the difference between human and humanoid.

    Check out my blog for more info. http://www.livingyoungforever.wordpress.com

    The future really should be radically different than it is now – we just to remain optimistic and spread the good word!

  • Bryan Caranto

    This is exactly what I am trying to do. Lately, I’ve been thinking about going into the dog breeding business, thinking I’ll make money for it. I’ll sell my guitar because fame isn’t important right now (art is but not fame and I’m having a hard time trying to get both anyway) and I just don’t think it will bring me money at least for the next 2 years. 

    So, for the business to be successful, I need to train the dog, sort of like jog with her every morning. I also need to feed / bathe (and all those maintenance) the dog regularly just so the business would be successful (dog show champion / strong dog who knows tricks and all) so I can sell those puppies in the future easily. If I try to look at it, I know it’s “suntok sa buwan” (Filipino) or “a punch to the moon”   in English which means, well literally “impossible” to be able to accomplish those things but it isn’t really the main goal. The main goal (which is also hidden) is to train myself and become more responsible than what I am right now. 
    And to do that, I have to create a life lie.

  • Kc05

    I oft find myself day dreaming of a life I want and now I know I can create it. Thank you!

  • Happiness

    Happiness
     comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to
    them. So be happy and live longer!
     

  • Andrew_Roberts198

    Sometimes telling a lie makes you happy. Yes it does. Although it’s not good to pretend just to achieve Happiness.

  • Anortham

    This is ridiculous advice.  I don’t feel happy knowing I am lying to myself…where did you come up with this?  Now all I’m thinking about is how I’m kidding myself thinking I’ll ever amount to anything worthwhile or worse, FIND anyone worthwhile.  This is certainly not the most motivating article I’ve ever read.

  • http://pressurewashing.net/ Cullenadams

    good luck with it. looks like your blog is very popular so is it really a lie anymore?

  • viewer

    Every person has a purpose in this life wheather it is major or minor. Listening to our hearts desire and what God has placed on our hearts allows our purpose to be fulfilled. Happiness is not really all that matters, Satisfaction of what we have done and who we have become will bring happiness….

  • SkyeA

    This is terrible advice, I’m sorry.  I…can’t even begin.  You should ACCEPT the depressing reality, and ENCOURAGE realization of it.  Most people already have their lies.  And they work.  And it’s very ignorant.  People should take the bad with the good, and work together in AWARENESS, without the veils of the lies.  But they won’t.  Because lies are blatantly promoted.  Please don’t do this to yourself.  It scares me how many people agree with this.

    • Bunyonb

      It just goes to show you that the people who seek advice like these are chronic slackers who cringe at the thought of doing work to solve a problem. No internet article is gonna fix a guy with alcohol addiction or a rapist from sex addiction. It’s gonna need psychiatry and its gonna Ned the individuals themselves to take consistent action to fix their problems. There is no magic bullet solution.

  • Bunyonb

    Complete self help drivel. Listen folks if you really want to progress in life do it the painful old fashioned way…work.

    • Crystopher

      Or we can think with our self inflicted pains and evolved but not controlled brains that old ways are meant to be innovated upon and revised. Work is a bullshit lie. Don’t lie, be honest to yourself others. We can make a world free of this unnecessary pain, and constant suffering, but the only things holding us back is ourselves. I am trying to make a change in this world, and though one person may not be much in a perspective that over 7 billion others are on this rock. But if we break free from the superficial mindless desires and temptations, then we can all find and do whatever it is we love to do. Without the lies! Lets stop killing others and ourselves and evolve peacefully!!

  • Bunyonb

    How does lying to yourself gonna fix anything? I can’t lie to myself because the obvious Iis right in my face. Pretense is a burden within itself. This is a poorly developed article.

  • Passer

    This blog has a point. Life itself is a delusion, all we experience in life is merely delusion from our subconsciousness. The real happiness is created within ourselves.

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  • WeedIsSaferThanLiquor

    Life itself is a lie anyway. We are taught to go to school, get a job, pay into the system, and then die (which is also expensive). Do you really think we are living the true human purpose? The way we live and think is systematically taught to us from the time we come into this world. Whatever your personal beliefs are. Do you think they would be the same if you grew up in a different culture? Of course not. I don’t know if I’m making sense but what I’m saying is there is no wrong or right about life. You only believe what you believe because its been instilled in you throughout your life. So pick your poison!!! No matter what you believe at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. P.S. the Bible is some brainwashing bullshit. Well religion in general is doing the same thing that this man was doing to himself. Believing in a better situation to cope easier with the current situation.

    • Jason G

      This is simply not true. While we are born into a culture which may lie to us, We have our own minds to work out the truth as well as we can. It is the same for religion. You may have been fed one thing but it is your responsibility to search for the truth.
      If you open your eyes and your mind, you will realize that the world’s existence and marvels of the world all point to the exist of a Creator – that is definitely more logical than saying it was a fluke of a big bang.
      If you take it a step further, you will realize that G-d gave an instruction booklet as to how to use His world.
      The point is Life is not a lie. We have to try to work things out with our minds in an objective way.
      Good Luck

  • John L Brown

    The “lie” is actually a function of perception. In other words, if your perception
    is less than direct, than anything you perceive is subject to less than a clear
    understanding of reality or intentions, and therefore is potentially a lie, or
    if you like, a misperception. But this cannot, or at least should not be the bases
    for living, or achieving relative happiness. Moreover, what one does with
    respect to this so-called lie, is critical if one hopes to make their lives a
    worthy effort. The idea that what one does relative to this so-called lie doesn’t
    matter run contrary to basic human understanding, and common sense.

    The greater the capacity to engender truth, both internally and externally, is a
    key to eliciting right and productive action. The very word, lie, applied to
    personal behavior, thrust the mind into a negative mode of thinking; in need of
    justifying or excusing. The objective should be working to identify concrete
    and relevant goals within the interest and capacity of each individual. No
    doubt we all have abilities, as well as limitation that our efforts will make
    plain. Self-understanding, and clarity of intentions, not lies masked as
    process, is the key to functional behavior and grounded performance. The
    language we choose to identify and develop our life goal will determine, to a
    large extent the results.

    I sincerely believe that our failure to achieve worthy goals is more than often a
    lack of energy. Most of us already know what needs to be done, but lack the
    energy to pursue our dreams. I’m persuaded that a poor diet and a lack of regular
    exercise chains many to mediocrity. A plant based diet has awakened many to the
    innate capacities and abilities latent within our human biology. Too often our
    failures to achieve our goals lead to indiscriminate eating and ‘alcoholic’
    bliss. These simple and addictive facts are all too often ignored, or suppressed.
    As well, many are dragged down by so-called friends or associates that frustrate
    our efforts to achieve the achievable. The solution is to ‘break away,’ finally
    and completely from the toxic influences. Look, this is not rocket science. A healthy
    body leads to a healthy mind and, if you will, a healthy spirit; a balanced
    emotional life. This is not merely my opinion, but a realized fact.

    Of course the company you keep will potentially affect all of the above, depending
    upon your ability to maintain a defined and well grounded understanding of that
    you hope to achieve. I didn’t suggest that navigating within a somewhat toxic
    culture, at work or at home is easy. Still, one must choose to engender, or
    not, the higher ideals indicated, in their own way. Thank you for allowing me
    to participate.

  • Fred

    This is stupid.
    Thank you for posting it.
    I understand why blogs like this are a waste of my time.

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  • Lisa Thomas

    this is what Abraham-Hicks calls”telling yourself a new story” it is a mental game and it is very effective. people who live in fear and anxiety dwell in the horrors and evils that need to be addressed in living in the world. living in fear and anxiety is what makes one not only vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation, but also a powerful attractor of same.

  • calee

    So what is this trickery? Lol along lines of the fake it til u make it category ? Hah! Like Nike fer real…just do it…Christ already

  • Nice

    Didn’t enjoy that at all utterly depressing view of the world. Disappointing article.

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  • Ian Moll-Vignes

    Living a lie is dangerous, because you become complacent., and instead of addressing areas or limitations you can work on, e.g. improving skill levels, getting training or qualifications you’ve decided to ignore reality and live in illusion.
    Having a dream means focusing on a strategic objective with short terms plans to make it a reality. A goal is a dream with a date attached, to re-evaluate and measure your progress. Your chances of making a dream a reality is my making plans, and setting out to achieve a realistic goal. If you don’t have the skills it’s being delusional, however , if the skill can be learned the dream can become a reality.

  • Handan Tuncdoruk

    I would simply re-word “life-lie” with hope…. easy peasy:) We all have those days- we ALLLL have THOSE days! & tough lives…but lets replace any lies with hope…its sweeter!:)