The Last Temptation of…You

temptationA friend of mine called recently to say, “I’ve been offered a job I don’t want. The money, power, and prestige are huge. I’m not sure I have the guts to say ‘No.’”

If I’d had to, I would’ve shot him in the foot right then—anything to keep him from selling his happiness so cheaply.

Fortunately, my friend prevailed. He rejected all that power and money, knowing it would turn him into King Midas, surrounded by gold, yet lacking the warmth, tenderness, and joy that are his real life’s purpose.

I know many people who are having similar experiences. As they get closer to leaving a dysfunctional way of life, the old way rises up like an abusive spouse shocked by a divorce decree. “Just stay with me!” it begs. “I’ll do anything you want!”

This pressure always peaks before big breakthroughs. Jesus was reportedly tempted with the power to do massive philanthropy just before he started teaching. The Buddha’s wealthy father showered him with wealth and privilege as he prepared to walk into the forest, seeking enlightenment. It may be that many almost-heroes failed similar tests. We don’t know about them, because they never quite woke up.

Don’t let this happen to you.

If you sense that joy, freedom, and love lie in a given direction, go that way no matter what the rest of the world may offer. Peel your ego’s fingers from their grip on illusions like lifelong security (doesn’t exist), your parents’ approval (can’t make you happy) and “the normal way” (disintegrating as we speak).

Your heart is a compass in a chaotic world. Follow it. Resist anything that looks reeeally good, but feels reeeally bad. Be like my friend, brave enough to turn away from shiny objects, and toward the light that makes them shine.

Photo styled and shot by Ken Weiner

9 replies
  1. Ulrich
    Ulrich says:

    Martha, thank you!

    with time, I realized how important it is to say “no” to an offer that does not resonate with the own heart.


  2. Patty
    Patty says:

    I LOVE this and I so needed it. I have left the old and the new life hasn’t quite emerged from the mists yet, and in this blurry time I am sometimes tempted to go back to old ways and old strategies for living and surviving. Thank you for the reminder to look for the light, not the reflection. Love and light to you Martha and to anyone reading this.

  3. Ci
    Ci says:

    We can see it for example as well when we loved a website and it has been bought for an expensive price and suddenly and fastly, the site disappears and fastly can even falls in bankrupcy. No more members. It was the case for Myspace, for A small world, and now for the idealistic Couchsurfing. It is as if money sometimes has the power to destroy. A human being of course, but even a website.
    Is it possible however to be in the same time rich and spiritual, and connected? Yes, a lot of successful people in the medias in United States are the prove of it. Newman, Redford, other actors, singers, and some journalists, etc.

  4. Colin Ford
    Colin Ford says:

    Just what I needed today. 1 year ago I left a large major international company to follow my heart. Has it been easy no! As I struggle with my new direction so many days are empty and cause doubt and yet in my heart I know I am on the right path to fulfillment and joy. A the same time I left the company(after 15 yrs) I also mended my love relationship (actually there wasn’t much love left). here too I need to stay strong as I venture out into the world of meeting new people. I learnt a long time ago from a wonderful man, Dan Millman to Trust Myself and Trust God and all will be well in my world
    Thank you Martha for you beautiful insights that you deliver with humour and humanity.

  5. Brigitte Roujol (Horizoom)
    Brigitte Roujol (Horizoom) says:

    Pour les francophones, un extrait de cet article :

    “Si vous sentez que la joie, la liberté et l’amour se trouvent dans une direction donnée, allez sur ce chemin, peu importe ce que le reste du monde peut offrir. Faîtes lâcher votre ego des illusions telles que la sécurité permanente (n’existe pas), l’approbation de vos parents (ne peut pas vous rendre heureux) et «la voie normale” (désintégrante)”. (Martha Beck)

  6. Coco
    Coco says:

    I’m glad to be reminded, “This pressure always peaks before big breakthroughs”.

    I love you all

  7. ash
    ash says:


    I had a colleague in a similar situation. He got a really good job offer. But he wasn’t happy. He did not want to leave the current job. But i felt might be he has just got used to this job. So when he asked for my view, i told him it was genuinely good offer and he should consider it. I then gave him a suggestion, ask for 5 grands more. If they give join the new place or just reject it. He was sure they wont give him 5 grands more, but they relented & gave him 5 grands more. He is now at his new job & very happy too. I feel sometimes we should give a little push to that resistance & things do get sorted.

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