God, the Apes and Happiness

God, the Apes and Happiness

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the controversial topic of God, the apes, humankind’s origins and the link to happiness & success.

First a quick update:

“From the vault”
We found hidden in the electronic vault, the lost recording: “Our Hidden Motivations” – an interview I gave to Patti Black and Chere of the Good News Show almost 2 years ago. In the interview I share insights into forgiveness; denial and dangers of suppressing our emotions; how to neutralize negative emotions; “Whatever you feel is okay” and; the one question that can help you uncover what is holding you back in life and can help you to change your life.

Now, lets’ talk about God, the apes, humankind’s origins and the link to happiness & success.

At the close of the 68th Golden Globe awards, comedian and host, Ricky Gervais signed off with “And thank you to God for making me an atheist.”

And with those few simple words, Gervais stirred up, once again, the ever controversial topic of God’s existence and mankind’s origins.

This newsletter, though, is not about religion, nor is it about Evolution or Creationism. Instead, it is about the philosophy of God and spirituality, and their connection and relevance to our happiness and success.

You may have noticed that when God is mentioned, people of all opinions tend to join the conversation; interestingly, atheists and agnostics will spend the time to read lengthy internet articles about God and then proceed to comment on the article and present arguments to refute God’s existence or to condemn those people who believe in God.

It is true that people generally like to either condemn or convert others to their beliefs (this applies to atheists, religious and spiritual people) but could there be another reason why even non-believers choose to invest heavily into these articles? Are they, like everyone else, searching for something?

Religion, dogma, contradictions, hypocrisy, corruption, religious wars and false teachings have turned many people away from institutionalized religion; some people abandon religion all together, some people stop believing in God; others choose to worship privately and yet others, begin their own movements. The New Age Movement evolved almost as a direct response, reaction and even rebuttal to Western religion, even though, many of its basic teachings are similar to traditional Western religion: New Age replaced the word God with Universe, often referring to the Universe as God. The movie and the book “The Secret” states: “Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The universe responds to your thoughts…The Universe will start to rearrange itself to make it happen for you.”

Of course, science and reasoning have also turned some people away from a belief in God. After all, modern science tends to explain most of what we experience as simply neurological reactions and responses – side effects of our brain.

The one thing that science cannot easily explain is human emotions, including our chronic suffering & anxiety. No other animal experiences the vast array of emotions that humans do and no other animal has the heightened ability for introspection that humans have.

But again, I stated at the outset that this newsletter is not about religion, evolution or creationism. My point here is that humans need and crave something much deeper and much more complex than do all other animals and creatures.

In September of 1942, Victor Frankl, a young Jewish Neurologist & Psychiatrist, his new bride, his mother, father, and brother, were arrested in Vienna and deported to a concentration camp.

During his three years in the concentration camp, amidst the pain, suffering and death around him, Victor Frankl made many powerful conclusions and philosophies about human behavior and life.

The first was about the power of love.

In the cold darkness, during a predawn march to lay railroad tracks, with icy wind blowing, Victor Frankl heard another prisoner whisper to him: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

As Frankl thought about his wife, he had an awakening that she was present within him:
“…for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved…”

Frankl went on to notice that the people who had the greatest chance of surviving their suffering were those who held tightly to the future vision of being reunited with their loved ones.

And here now was his second hallmark conclusion: even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning; even suffering is meaningful. Frankl pointed to the significance of “man’s attitude to his existence.”

And it is these two conclusions by Frankl that combine to create the third.

Even prior to his experiences in the concentration camp, Frankl was concerned about the growing cynicism of human existence – medical schools placed all emphasis on physiology, and psychology believed that the mind is a side effect of mechanisms and failures in the brain. The same still occurs today.

What was and is missing is the spiritual element and perspective.

In 1975, Frankl wrote that “…the de-neuroticization of humanity requires a re-humanization of psychotherapy.”  In other words, Frankl recognized the ever-growing neuroses in society (anguish, anxiety, obsessiveness, sadness, depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, phobias, disturbing thoughts, negativity, cynicism, perfectionism, etc.) He also referred to “Sunday Neurosis” – a form of depression resulting from an awareness of the emptiness of one’s life once the working week is over.

Neuroses seem to be common and prevalent throughout today’s society. As people turned away or rebelled against a belief in God and religion, many made the mistake of also tossing values, morality, hope, meaning and purpose; they look outside to the external hoping it will ease their pain or make them happy. Would celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan suddenly watch their inner suffering and torture disappear if they had more meaning and purpose in their lives?

Regardless of whether or not you believe we came from God, Adam & Eve, the apes, a single cell, the Big Bang or even aliens, the one thing that remains true is that real happiness and fulfillment comes from finding meaning and purpose in our lives, filling it up with something more substantial than stuff outside of us; filling it up with love (for self and others) and the desire to make a difference and to help others.

You can comment on this newsletter by visiting my blog or directly to this article.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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5 replies
  1. Avatar
    Tracy says:

    Hello Patrick,
    I agree with you, that it would appear today that people seem to lack the values, morales, and integrity that was for quite a long time a mainstay of our society.

    When I look back on the way my parents were in the 50’s and 60’s, a time when people seemed to care more about simple things, like manners, a clean appearance, and generally being of a more modest nature. Do you remember watching Mrs. Cleaver on the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ show in the 60’s? Some would say today that she was just too perfect, and no woman should have to be like that anymore.

    The problem today is not so much a lack of religion but that the media and technology today has made us very cynical, angry, and mistrusting of almost everything.

    Charlie Sheen & Lindsay Lohan are both the products of a very selfish, self-absorbed, materialistic belief system that has also permeated our society today. The belief in our techno society today is shown by the recent tragedy in Joplin, where miles and miles of cars have driven through the town just to gawk and take pictures of such a horrible disaster but very few people came just to help out! We have become a society of watchers and not doers.

    How do you change this type of behaviour? Is belief in God or the Universe the answer? I think it is more than that, I think we need to look more deeply than that. I think good works need to be rewarded more publicly than they are and not in a superficial way but a more genuine way otherwise in our media-driven society we would see right through it.

    We no longer believe everything we see, we have conspiracies over everything under the sun now, so for this to work it has to be genuine and true.

    Let’s not get into an argument about what’s right and wrong and what’s a sin and what’s not a sin…we all know that most organized religion today is a hypocritcal farce and there are more sinners that are priests and ministers than the average Joe out there. Most people have a sense of right and wrong within them and when it comes right down to it I believe that there are more good people than bad.

    What it really comes down to is we need more balance and direction in our beliefs today. We are evolving, Patrick, but we need a push in the right direction. How do we change this into something better?

  2. Avatar
    Romy says:

    Evolution can provide an explanation for the body, but it can’t explain the soul…
    The big bang theory provides an explanation for what might have happpened to the universe only moments after the initial expansion occurred. However, the theory doesn’t explain what happened at the initial expansion i.e. at the very early moments in time. Also, where did the very first particles come from?
    And if matter is neither created nor destroyed (as physics and chemistry tell us), then how did matter just “appear”? And where did it come from?
    Who/what put it there?

    God gave humans intelligence and free will. Then, when humans started trying to understand how God created the universe and how God created life, and when they used the intelligence that God gave them and developed in vitro fertilization and other things, they thought they are smarter than God and they don’t need God anymore. They rebelled against God , just like Lucifer did.
    God loves us, this is why he gave us free will. He doesn’t want us to believe in him out of fear or force. He gave humans free will and he didn’t give it to any other creatures. This is why we have a special relationship with God.
    The New Age movement is just another way for Satan to trick humans. Jesus Christ is the one and only way to Heaven and eternal life. But what the New Age tells us is that there are many ways to God and all these ways are the right ways, whether it is through buddha, mohammed, pagan gods, etc… which Christians know is wrong.

    Christians are being persecuted and tested for their faith through Political Correctness. Let me explain. Political correctness tells Christians that homosexuality is okay because in this “modern” world we are free to choose our sexual partners. It also says that abortion/murder is okay because women have the right to kill an innocent life since they are “liberated” and can choose what to do with their bodies. And so on…
    So, whenever Christians say that they don’t approve of homosexuality because it’s a sin, and that abortion is a sin because God tells us that we must not kill no matter if life is still at its early stage of a clump of cells or it’s a 90 year old man, because we must protect life at all its stages, and life starts at the moment of conception and this is when the soul enters this form of life, people will blame these Christians of being Politically Incorrect, bigots, oldfashioned, narroe-minded, etc… when in fact Christians are just expressing their faith, because God wants us to love and forgive one another but at the same time we have a duty to preach God’s word and not to accept sin.

    And for those who say that humans can be moral without believing in God, they say that because they don’t know/understand that God is much more than a set of moral laws you should follow.
    Just because some humans don’t believe in God, this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. God is the beginning and the end. He exists and he created us, and it is called faith because you don’t have to see in order to believe, you don’t need proof.

  3. Avatar
    Taylor says:


    Not all that stop believing in a god, walk away from values, etc… Some actually gain values, morals, etc…

    This is not an argument for either side of beliefs mind you, however, isn’t believing in a god and putting all your hope and action into praying to an outside force to make life what you want it to be and live a purposeful and fulfilling life? Isn’t that looking outside yourself? Would it not be best to have our own personal beliefs and not hold onto the expectation that others “should” believe what we do to justify our beliefs (to be right)? Wouldn’t it be more productive and satisfying to put forth the effort to make our lives the best they can be for ourselves and others?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Taylor,
      yes, I agree that some people walk away gaining more morality – not less. Remember, I did write “. As people turned away or rebelled against a belief in God and religion, many made the mistake of also tossing values, morality, hope, meaning and purpose…” I did not write ‘all people.’

      With regards to ‘praying to an outside force’, I do not equate that with seeking stuff outside of yourself (fame,, fortune, materialism, power, etc) as a way to find happiness. And yes, I wholeheartedly agree that it would be and is “more productive and satisfying to put forth the effort to make our lives the best they can be for ourselves and others” regardless of how we get there (prayer, God, religion, personal choice, etc.)
      All the best,

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