The Option Method, created by Bruce Di Marsico, has been one of the greatest gifts I have received in my life. By collecting Bruce’s transcripts and…[ Michael Neill ] >
Bruce Di Marsico and the Creation of the Option Method.
In the late 1960’s a psychotherapist named Bruce M. Di Marsico set out to understand the nature of unhappiness. He knew in his heart that happiness is our natural state. Why, then, he wondered were people so unhappy so much of the time? Why, even when they were happy, did that happiness seem tentative and fragile? Over the years, he had asked himself these questions many times. Throughout his entire life, he had questioned what is. He was a brilliant child with a voracious curiosity about the world and he grew up to be a brilliant man able to synthesize enormous amounts of information on a wide variety of subjects. He was also intensely spiritual, with a passion to help people end the suffering in their lives. This led him to a seminary in the late 1950s, but he found that environment to be too restrictive for the growth that be believed was possible. Eventually, he became a psychotherapist, which gave him the opportunity to hear people talk about the broad spectrum of emotional suffering. He searched for a way to help them in the best, most empowering way possible.
As he describes in The Creation of The Option Method (The Option Method: The Myth of Unhappiness, Vol. 1, pp 26-36), Bruce Di Marsico created The Option Method in the late 60s as a result of decisions he made about the nature of unhappiness and happiness. In the context of The Option Method, he defined unhappiness as “the feeling (belief) that a degree of happiness is threatened and one is, to a degree, helpless to be happy. The belief (feeling) about the degree of threat, and how helpless one is, produces, exactly, the degree of the profoundness and the nature of the emotion; from slight to extreme. Unhappiness is a good model word for what people describe as bad or uncomfortable feelings – feelings that they need to stop in order to feel "good.” I’m sure you have experienced this for yourself. We all have a pretty good sense of what we’re going to get unhappy about, how unhappy we’ll be and for how long.
He realized that people create their reality, their personalities and point of view, by means of the beliefs they choose – about themselves, others, the world, God. When it comes to our unhappiness, a primary belief is that we can be made to be unhappy against our will. In other words, unhappiness can happen to us. When people believe that unhappiness can happen to us, they see those things that can make us unhappy as “bad” or “wrong”, even “evil”, as things that “should not happen.” We cannot be unhappy about things we believe are not bad and we cannot be anything but unhappy when we believe things are bad.
He understood that on some level people choose to get unhappy; they believed it was good and necessary; in their own best interests. In fact, the alternative – being happy is seen as some form of craziness. Behind that fear is a belief that “If I wasn’t unhappy about ___, it would mean that I wanted it to happen or I didn’t care.” So in essence, unhappiness is the fear and rejection of happiness now to avoid the feared, inevitable, greater unhappiness. And that greater unhappiness is the result of ignoring the greater truth: that one should be unhappy now.
He realized that “the belief that unhappiness is preferable to happiness is the dynamic of all unhappiness.” Bruce wrote volumes on The Option Method and the nature of happiness and unhappiness, but this one statement goes right to the heart of his teachings. When we can understand how we use unhappiness, we can be free to understand the difference between the emotional need to avoid things we believe are bad for our happiness and the simple desire to avoid certain circumstances. For example, as Bruce puts it, “No person is afraid of being poor, in itself, but of being an unhappy poor person. ...People are afraid unhappiness will “happen” to them under certain circumstances. If you were not afraid of being unhappy as a poor person, would you still fear poverty? Could you not instead decide you want to avoid it?”
So the entry point of The Option Method, if you will, is unhappiness, and the goal is perfect happiness, by removing self-created obstacles in the form of beliefs that underlie all unhappiness. And while Bruce spoke and wrote extensively about both, he was never prescriptive in saying that people should be happy or unhappy about some things and not others. He didn’t define happiness and unhappiness for others as much as describe the genesis and experience of the wide variety of emotions in these broad concepts.
He created a method that would lead others to emotional freedom and open the way to enlightenment. Bruce had a vision of the possibility of freedom from unhappiness, which he shared with others through The Option Method teachings. This is one of the essential ingredients of The Option Method – this view of happiness as the freedom from unhappiness. In fact, this is one reason why The Method is so transformative for so many people; it allows them to see, perhaps for the first time in their lives, that their happiness is not contingent upon getting and having things. What could be more freeing!! As Bruce said, "It is apparent from The Option Method that what people actually need to be happy is the confidence that their happiness cannot be threatened, and therefore they do not need to fear the helpless feeling that happiness will be taken away."
While Bruce was a psychotherapist, he ultimately expanded the practice of The Option Method from a therapy to what is essentially a personal growth and development tool. He did not believe the practice of the Method should be limited in any way except that the practitioner be trained in The Method through an understanding of the underlying attitude and principles, and most important, "through their own continuous experience of consciously, deliberately wanting to eliminate their unhappiness..."
I was immediately stunned by the technique. It seems to not only meet all my ‘ideal’ criteria — simple, fast, elegant, respectful, easy, fun, an…[ Vincent O ] >
To be happy, know that even though you cannot imagine your happiness in the future, you don’t …
To be happy, know that even though you cannot imagine your happiness in the future, you don’t have to be unhappy today.[ Bruce Di Marsico ]