When I was young, I wanted to change in major ways. I wanted to be as thin as my sister, as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe, as creative as Einstein and Picasso combined, as trail-blazing as Madame Curie, as loving as Jesus, as natural as Lao Tzu, and as still as a Buddha statue. These wants were sins of my youth. Why? Ambition is good as long as it helps us experience our participation in the stream of life as opposed to survive in it only. This important distinction is laid out in Chapter Four of my book.

I am with Mark Twain who wrote, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” And, believe it or not, I was not ambitious in this grand way because I felt the need to be somebody. I knew deep down I was somebody already. No outside goal, however noble, can ever make us feel complete. I knew this to be true from my early experiences of stillness. In stillness we realize that we are complete and that on the deepest level, there is no reason to strive for anything at all. The reason why my ambition was destructive is that I aimed at a result instead of a path. I pictured the perfect me and was pretty disgusted with myself for being so terribly far away from that ideal.

Many current self-help gurus tell us that picturing exactly what we want, gives us what we want. Our intention would make our wish a done-deal. Not in my experience! And not according to scientific studies either, as noted by psychologist Richard Wiseman. http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/books/59-seconds-think-a-little-change-a-lot/. Pursuing a high goal can leave us stifled and thoroughly unprepared for inevitable fall-backs. Therefore the first order of business is to direct our ambition away from an ideal goal and towards a doable path, especially a first step, and possibly a second and third. In other words, what we need is a strategy. To become as thin as my sister or as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe, I needed to forget about their bodies and think of a first step, such as “Stop eating refined sugar” or “Learn to apply make-up.” Just this one thing in each category caused me to lose pounds and look a lot more like Marilyn than previously thought possible. In the long run, I even gave up the silly notion of wanting to look like somebody else.

It is so much fun to change for the better, why ruin it with a culturally imposed fantasy? When we focus on our path and actually walk it, we start to love the path. When I started to read books on science, draw charcoal portraits, go for nature walks, and learn about stillness more formally with Zen, I lost the desire to be anybody else but me. It has become a pleasure to see myself grow. And it is quite possible to realize, I assure you, that mistakes are wonderful growth experiences, instead of obstacles to the goal.

Indeed, by walking the path instead of chasing our goals we learn that pretty much everything is a glorious mistake. As Dogen Zenji put it, “A Zen master’s life is one continuous mistake.” After identifying the first step of our path, the second order of business is to be…. Please continue on reading this blog in @ PsychologyToday.com http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unified-theory-happiness/201212/how-create-ripple-effect-in-your-and-others-lives