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Excerpt: 'How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have'

By John Gray
310 pages

In this story:

Money Can't Buy Happiness

The Nature of Illusion

The Making of Common Sense

An Idea Whose Time Has Come


John Gray, the author of the "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" relationship series, now presents an innovative program for achieving personal success. The wisdom and techniques in these pages will enable you to feel greater joy, love, confidence, and peace.

Money Can't Buy Happiness

Many people have achieved a lot in their lives, but they lack peace. The world is filled with unhappy millionaires who cannot sustain loving relationships. Yet they and those who emulate them continue to think that more money or more of "something" will finally help them feel good about themselves and their lives.

As we all know, money does not buy happiness or love. Even though this maxim is familiar, it is still easy to get caught in the web of illusion that outer success can make us happy. The more we think that money is capable of making us happy, the more we give away our power to be happy without it.


As you read this, some part of you is probably thinking, "Yeah, I know that money can't really make me happy, but it sure can help." Although this thought is reasonable, it is important to recognize that it is a misconception that robs you of your power. To reset your direction in life, to make sure you are moving in the direction of personal success, you must recognize that money can't make you happy. The experience that money makes you or others happy is an illusion.

The Nature of Illusion

Let's explore for a moment the nature of illusion. When you experience the sun moving across the sky each day, another part of you knows that the sun isn't really moving. Although your senses register the movement, your mind knows that the sun is not moving. Though you feel stationary, you know the earth is spinning on its axis. Your mind knows that movement of the sun is an illusion, and that in truth you are moving.

Comprehension of this illusion requires abstract thinking. A young child cannot figure it out. Schoolteachers notice a shift from concrete thinking to abstract thinking in a child's development. In most cases, the shift happens practically overnight. One day, the student can't even begin to understand an algebra equation, and then suddenly, when the brain is ready, the student gets it. If the brain is not yet ready, no amount of instruction will help a student understand.

To comprehend or recognize an illusion, the brain must reach a certain level of development. This shift in children from concrete thinking (the world is what you see) to abstract thinking (concepts are real as well) generally happens around puberty. As a child reaches twelve or thirteen, the brain has developed enough to comprehend concepts adults assume are obvious. Just as a child develops, the brain capacity of mankind develops over time as well. Ideas that challenged the greatest minds in history are now comprehended by fourteen-year-old science students.

The Making of Common Sense

Just five hundred years ago, everyone thought the earth was flat and the sun moved across the sky. They were not ready to comprehend this simple illusion. Their brains were not yet ready to comprehend the abstract thoughts necessary to recognize that the earth was moving and the sun was stationary. When Copernicus described the phenomenon in 1543, many could not accept the challenge to their beliefs. He was perceived as a threat by the church and imprisoned in his home for the rest of his life.

After relatively a few years, his discovery became accepted. Mankind had taken a leap. What was impossible for most to comprehend became fact. Right now mankind is taking part in another leap forward to understand the secrets of personal success. All the great teachings and religions have led mankind to this point. Yet as we venture forward, these important traditions will continue to be a strong foundation. The algebra student will always depend on basic "concrete thinking" math skills to progress.

At this exciting time in history, many illusions are being recognized as such--for example, the illusions about relationships between men and women. I am always asked, "Why didn't someone write Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus before? It is all so obvious. It just seems like common sense."

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The simple answer to this question is that it is an idea whose time had come. It would not have been so popular fifty years ago or even twenty years ago. When I started teaching Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus in the early eighties, some people were still getting upset with me, misinterpreting and misunderstanding what I had to say. They just could not comprehend the notion that men and women were different and that both were equally good. In their minds, if men and women were different, one had to be superior. Since I am a man, people assumed I was saying men were better than women. Gradually, during the course of fifteen years, the ideas in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus have been accepted as common sense not only in America, but around the world. This shift in comprehension is global.

The common sense of one generation was always a new discovery to previous generations. Just fifty years ago, the theme of the women's movement was that we are all equal because we are the same; women are not different from men. To earn equality, women had to prove that they were the same as men. At least society was letting go of the notion that one sex was better than the other. Now, once again, it is common knowledge that men and women are different, but we realize that being different doesn't mean one is "better" than the other.

The common sense of one generation was always a new discovery to previous generations.

c1999 by Mars Productions

The World of John Gray, Ph.D.

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