I. The Direction of the Curriculum, P 4
4 Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.
I laughed when I read this paragraph. It is so simple that you would think we would have thought of it ourselves. Well, I guess we did, because consciously or unconsciously we became open to finding another way. That is why the Course is part of our life now. But it is not enough to learn about another way, we need to put it into practice.
We don’t just say there must be another way, find that way, then go back to making the same mistakes as always and expect our life to change. What works for me is to look at each outcome, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, actually, and notice if it makes me happy. If I am not happy, then I make a decision to do it differently because I didn’t get what I wanted. That makes sense, right?
A simple example of this occurred over the weekend. I said something to a friend and then regretted saying it. I felt like it was a stupid thing to say, that my friend noticed how stupid it was and judged me for it. I kept having judgmental thoughts about myself and then I would feel bad. I know this is foolish and not helpful and I asked for correction, but I would notice the thought again, and I would become anxious about it.
When I woke up the next day, the thought was right there waiting for me. What I did then was ask the Holy Spirit to show me what I needed to learn from this experience, and to help me let it go. I had the thought that I was upset because I was afraid I was being judged by my friend and coming up short. Then I had the thought that I believed that I need my friend to approve of me.
The next thought I had was of the lesson I had done recently. This was the lesson that I practiced knowing the peace of God is all I want. In this lesson I learned that in order to have the peace of God I have to let go of other goals. I realized that by having the goal of needing approval, I could not have the peace of God. Each time I did not get approval I would be out of peace.
Ahh! Now I understood the problem, and I knew the solution. I was upset because I had put another goal before the only goal that would make me happy. I wanted this friend to approve of me and this goal is doomed to failure. At some point, my friend is bound to disapprove of something I did or said. Even if she didn’t, I would project my self-judgment onto her and it would appear as if she disapproved of me.
There is no way I could keep this goal and experience the peace of God. The solution is simple. Needing approval doesn’t make me happy. If it doesn’t make me happy, it has no value to me. I can easily let it go on that basis alone. Peace makes me happy, and so has value to me. It only makes sense to remember that my only goal is the peace of God. All the anxiety I had felt when I thought I needed approval just dissolved away instantly. When I looked at the whole situation from that peaceful place I could laugh at what a big deal I had made of nothing.