I’d been feeling a little lost.

Sometimes being in business for yourself is great, other times it sucks. Despite some recent success I had been feeling stuck, frustrated, and fearful of the future.

Then something changed, at first it seemed insignificant, but over the course of a few months my outlook and productivity shifted dramatically. The catalyst? A bookcase.

My wife had been pestering me for literally six months about styling out our home office. This is where I do most of my writing, and though I could see how a little work could change the space, I wasn’t convinced it was a necessity.

I am an obsessive reader, my learning helps me solve my clients’ problems, but unfortunately it can also create clutter. We had more books than could be shelved and I had resorted to stacking them on top of and around the floor.

So, we spent a Sunday afternoon building the new bookcase and reconfiguring the room. As much as I struggled with the assembly I enjoyed working with my hands. It reminded me of my childhood, working on the farm with my family. When we finished I took a step back, and was genuinely shocked.

The space we had created matched almost exactly an idea I had in my head for years. I had always wanted a place where I could enrich my mind and nourish my soul. Now I realised what I wanted had always available to me, yet I had been too caught up in what I thought was missing to recognise it.

I didn’t need to move to another place, get it architecturally designed and styled by experts. I just needed to buy a bookcase and reconfigure a few things create the reality I wanted. The room I am sitting in as I write this is exactly the place I have dreamed about for years.

Why A Different Way of Seeing Is the Key to Wellbeing.  

Often, the things we want are right in front of us, but we are too consumed with their lack to see what might be possible. The world wants us this way, feeling unsatisfied keeps us off balance and hungry for more. More money, more prestige, more ‘work life balance’, just more.

Think about it, it’s hard to sell someone who doesn’t want anything. Marketing is about creating want, and highlighting the gap between what we want and what we have. The whole happiness industry thrives on it, and business is booming.

The ancient ideologies of both east and west pointed to this truth in different ways. Buddhists, Taoist and Stoics all counselled that the cause of suffering is desire. The very act of wanting something negates its existence, and creates a gap which causes the pain of lack or loss.

When we come from a place of ‘I have what I want and I want what I have’, we see how it is so. This simple reframe allows us to recognise the form in which our ‘want’ exists, and then reconfigure reality to realise our vision. These four steps are the key to drastically improving your wellbeing; reframe, recognise, reconfigure, realise.

The Japanese have a word for the insight that is required to kickstart this process: Kensho.  It means to see, or to awaken. When you think this way, you become like Neo in the Matrix, finally seeing reality for what it is: a bunch of code that can be moved around and manipulated for a different result.

This is not about being happy with your lot and settling into a life of mediocrity though, it’s actually a powerful principle for abundance. If you really take a look, you will see that thinking in this way is common to some of the most accomplished people on the planet.

How Ancient Wisdom Can Unlock Creativity and Create Abundance

When Steve Jobs bought a controlling interest in Pixar for five million dollars in 1986, he saw it for what it could be, not what it was. What it was was a fledgling enterprise software company comprised of eccentrics who liked to make short films with the skills and software they sold to others.

Under the Guidance of Jobs and Ed Catmull (Pixar’s President), Pixar became a pioneering animations studio that eventually sold to Disney for 7.6 Billion dollars, and became a publicly traded company.  Today it is the most revered animations studio on the planet.

When Jobs entered the smartphone sector with the iPhone, again he saw things as they could be rather than what they were. He saw that phones could be fashion items and built them to be that way, others saw what was or what had been and dismissed the product out of hand. Here’s a famous Clip of Microsoft Steve Balmer doing just that.

In the clip you’ll notice Balmer laughing about the price (no one has ever payed that), and deriding the product for its lack of features. He then points out that Apple had never sold phones before. His arguments offer a clue into his outlook. His want to win caused him to overweight the past and the present, and ignore the possibilities.

More recently the same thing happened when Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. Many claimed he overpaid for a decaying organisation in a dying industry, and again wanting things to be different clouded what might be. Bezos, like Jobs made fools of the ‘experts.’

He saw that the conventional model could be revolutionised with new technology that could tailor information to users’ preferences. Using this insight, he has completely turned The Post around and made it one a standout success in an industry where most continue to fail.

What Will You Do With This?

This pattern recurs throughout history, and the cause is almost always the same. Desire defeats imagination and stimulates suffering. After my Kensho moment I started to look at other arenas in which I already had what I thought I wanted. I didn’t have to look far.

In the end I realised it’s just about making a choice: would you rather live in a world of possibility or misery? If you chose possibility then I offer you another choice:

Will you read this and dismiss it out of hand like Steve Balmer?

Will you read this and think nice notion, maybe later?

Or will you seriously consider how thinking this way could help you, and commit to giving it a go?

Like my bookcase, one small change could have a dramatic impact on your life. It is simply a matter of following the four steps: reframe – recognise – reconfigure – realise.