Effort is the “life hack” self-help peddlers hate. How does this work? Let’s take a look:
- You have goals. A goal is an image of a life situation in which you are much happier.
- At any moment, you can think of any number of life situations wherein you would, in fact, be much happier.
- At the center of a preferred life situation (or goal) is a certain Doingness. The life situation you have is the accretion of your Doingness. Doingness is at the center because what you have is the effect of what you do. Havingness rests on a basis of action—the action that produces and reproduces your life situation.
- Goal attainment is the process of translating your happy vision from image into reality. Goal attainment can be described as putting mass and (for the living things in your fantasy) self-animation behind the images. The entities of your vision become physical masses; the placeholders, filled with hard objects and self-moving, striving, substantial agencies.
Translating your vision into real Doingness and Havingness requires effort. The key to success, unless you have contacts ready to aid you, is effort. That’s the last thing anyone wants to hear, and no marketable self-help program would ever be so honest. People who buy self-help systems do so in order to find a shortcut. People would rather work on “themselves” than on their actual problems:
Maybe I don’t really need to climb that wall. Master says that if I stop resisting it, it will disappear as a problem. I just need to look at the wall differently and change my attitude about it—and realize that the wall is really just a story I made up.
This is the essence of the self-help paradigm: The things in the world we are most concerned with are, in part, constructions by the subject. Knowing this, the smart person reflects, “Well, since I am the source of meaning and value, it would be more efficient for me to work on myself (specifically, my world-making lens) rather than on the countless things outside of me.”