What Do You Really Want

by Van K. Tharp, PhD

I sometimes use an exercise that came from the the Peak Performance 101 workshop entitled “Getting What You Want.” The exercise starts out with a question: If you could have anything in the universe, what would it be?  Perhaps your answer might be $10 million dollars.However, the exercise doesn’t end there. It just triggers another question: What would that get you? To carry our example forward, you’d now ask, “What would the $10 million dollars get you?”  Perhaps you might answer, “Security… I’d feel secure in my retirement.”

It doesn’t end with that answer. The second answer merely triggers another question: What would that get you? And to continue the example, you now ask, “What would security get you?”

This process continues at least five times. Each time you get an answer, the new question becomes, “What would that (i.e., the answer to the last question) get you? At the end of five iterations, I then survey the class for what they have come up with at the end of their questions. What do you think everyone comes up with? The answer is important because it really says a lot about you. But before I give you the results, do the exercise for yourself. Answer each of the following questions.

1) If you could have anything in the universe, what would it be?  __________________

2) What would that (answer 1) get you?  ______________________________________

3) What would that (answer 2) get you?  ______________________________________

4) What would that (answer 3) get you?  ______________________________________

5) What would that (answer 4) get you?  ______________________________________

6) What would that (answer 5) get you?  ______________________________________

I’m actually curious to know what percentage of you started out with “trading success.”  Perhaps a lot of you, but I doubt if anyone ended up there.

There are some universals about this exercise. With five repetitions of the question about 90% of all people end up with a mental state. Examples of mental states include security, freedom, confidence, happiness, etc. But we can take it further. If you do enough repetitions of the question, everyone ends up with a universal mental state such as Oneness, Love, Peace, Freedom, Ultimate Happiness, etc. What’s interesting about the exercise is that it flat out tells you what you really want! The final answer is always one of those universal mental states (and I’m not sure that they really are not all the same).

Yet what do we do with our lives? We spend it pursuing things such as money, power, career or perhaps trading success. But that’s not what we really want.  And that’s true for everyone.

Let me tell you a true story about a man named Lester Levinson. Lester had advanced degrees and was a very successful entrepreneur. In that sense, he was probably a lot like most of you. However, he was very unhealthy. One day his doctors basically said, “Lester, there is really nothing we can do for you. You are going to die in a few months.”  So Lester retreated to his Manhattan apartment to die. But before he did so, he did an exercise similar to the one I just took you through and concluded that what he really wanted out of life was LOVE.  He looked at his life and concluded that he was the happiest when he was LOVING, rather than when he felt that people loved him.

As a result, Lester started a series of mental exercises designed to help him be more loving. And as he continued to do those exercises over the next few months, he didn’t die. Instead, some remarkable things happened:

First, all of the symptoms of his illness just disappeared. And whenever something happened to his body he could heal it instantly.
Second, he found that he could materialize whatever he wanted just by thinking about it. He played with this for a while, soon materializing millions of dollars worth of real estate. But knowing that he could get those material things any time he wanted them just by thinking about them, he soon lost interest in them and just gave them away.  Besides, what he really wanted was LOVE and he was getting that by being LOVING.
Third, he basically started operating in the world at the level of a very advanced spiritual being.

In the spirit of being loving, Lester started to teach what he had learned. He wrote a series of five books entitled “Happiness is Free.” Each book is a seven week course, so the series is basically a 35 week course on attaining happiness. I’m not sure the full course is available anymore as there seem to be only single copies of the books on Amazon. But I found the core process that Lester went through to heal himself and become happy and loving was very powerful. And it reminded me of the exercise I had been using in Peak 101 for years.

I encourage each of you to take a moment now and go through the 6 step exercise above and do it five times. Then spend some time examining the core mental state you ended with. Use this information to start seeking out the things in your life that could lead you to that core mental state. It could be the start of a fascinating journey.

If you didn’t see already Vantharp.com has been overhauled. You’ll find this week’s article on the new site posted as a blog. Registered users can make comments on blog posts.

If you do this exercise and would like to share your experience and your core mental states we’d love to get your feedback! Go to www.vantharp.com/trading. To create an user account look to the top right of your screen for ACCOUNT. I’m excited to have a way now to more easily get your feedback and comments! Plus, this is a nice upgrade to our shopping cart experience. You can now register once and only log in when needed. You’ll have a purchase history and a much better mobile device experience.

One Thought on “What Do You Really Want by Van K. Tharp, PhD”

  • Hi Van,
    love the new layout of the website, more accessible, easy to use and simply looks fresh.
    I reached “Bliss” after 11 questions.
    So would the question be, how do I experience bliss, without the other 10 preceding things/states?

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