More Than Money
Issue #38

Money and Happiness

Table of Contents

“Getting What You Really Want - The Paradox of Desire”

An Interview with Larry Crane

Interviewed by Pamela Gerloff

Larry Crane, formerly an advertising executive and president of Dynamic House, a pioneer in the direct mail industry, has been teaching The Release Technique to executives of Fortune 500 companies for 20 years. He has personally trained people in all walks of life in the art of letting go of problems, emotions, stress, and subconscious blocks that are holding them back from having total abundance and joy in their lives.
Research on The Release Technique has been conducted by Dr. Richard J. Davidson of the State University of New York in collaboration with Dr. David C. McClelland of Harvard University, and by Roger Brock, senior partner of the accounting firm Touche-Ross. A summary of the research findings is available at .

MTM: Let's start with your own personal experience of money and happiness. You didn't always have a lot of money, did you?

CRANE: No, I grew up in a poor family in the Bronx. We never missed a meal, but the way I saw it, the rich guy lived on the sixth floor and I lived in the basement. My father, who worked six and a half days a week to put food on our table, told me that if I could ever make $100 a week, I'd have died and gone to heaven.

I worked myself through school, graduating from the Leonard Stern School of Business at New York University. When I graduated, I saw that some of my friends were making lots of money and I thought to myself, "I'm just as smart as they are. I can do that." So I became a very aggressive guy. My attitude was, "Get outta my way, I'm gonna knock you down and take what I want." I climbed my way to the top and accumulated millions of dollars. Then, one day, Time magazine wrote an article about me. When I came home to my penthouse that week-it was a Friday night about 9:00 p.m.-the doorman said, "Mr. Crane, what an honor it is for me to have you in my building and to take you to your penthouse." I went inside, walked over to the terrace, and thought about jumping-for two hours. Here I had everything that the world said was going to make me happy-money, success, status, a beautiful wife, an expensive expensive home-and still I was miserable. It was very confusing. I had thought all these things would make me happy, but they didn't.

MTM: And that experience is what eventually led you to find your own happiness, and to the work you do now: helping others find happiness and abundance for themselves?

CRANE: Yes. That night I asked myself, "What's life about? And, "What am I doing on the planet?" Those are two very important questions that I had never asked myself before.

The answer came that I didn't know what life was about, and what I was doing on the planet was making money. And I didn't even enjoy it!

MTM: What did you do then?

CRANE: I decided that I was going to find an answer. What that answer was, I didn't know. I wasn't open to psychiatric work or meditation or yoga or any of those things. I stumbled into a couple of New Age courses, but didn't find an answer. Then, one day, someone came into my office and told me about The Release Technique and introduced me to its originator, Lester Levinson.

Lester was a physicist and an engineer. In 1952, at the age of 43, he had his second massive heart attack. His doctor told him he had a couple of weeks to live and sent him home from the hospital because there was nothing more the doctors could do for him.

Lester went home and thought, "Here I am with all this intelligence, and where has it gotten me? Almost dead!"

So he started to examine his life. He noticed that the times in his life when he was feeling positive, he was not sick; and the times when he was feeling negative, he was sick. He asked himself, "If I could get rid of my negative feelings, could I get better?" He figured out a way to release his negative feelings, and within one month's time he totally got rid of his negativity. (The Release Technique, which he had stumbled onto, is a natural ability to get rid of our negativity. Each of us has this ability, but it usually has to be relearned because most of us have forgotten it.)

Then Lester said, "If I could fix my health, could I fix my pocketbook using the same technique?" He applied the same technique to his finances and, within a short time, became a multi-millionaire. Then he spent the rest of his life helping others find what he had found. When I met him, we became friends, and he showed me what he knew.

MTM: Could you say more precisely what Lester's key discovery was?

CRANE: His key discovery was that the negativity that was blocking health, financial success, and the attainment of other things he desired, was accumulated by him, and that he-and each one of us-could actually release it.

MTM: By negativity, do you mean feelings that we don't generally enjoy-like anger, frustration, worry, or anxiety?

CRANE: Yes. Any uncomfortable feeling can be considered a negativity that is blocking the attainment of what we desire.

MTM: You say that those negativities are like viruses, and they're what keep us from happiness.

CRANE: That's right. Most people are looking for their happiness in money, things, accomplishments, relationships, and so on-and it's never there. Take a look at the people we put up on a pedestal. If you watch the Biography channel on TV, you'll see that, in reality, those people often lived miserable lives. Why? Because many of them were caught up in having things. It's not that having things is bad, but they don't bring you happiness.

What people don't understand is that the mind works like a computer. If you have a virus on your computer and you don't remove the virus, no matter how much information you put into the computer, the virus is going to interfere with the way the computer operates.

Most of us are suppressing our negativity. When we suppress it, we push it into our subconscious mind and it remains there, like a virus, interfering with our health, happiness, success, relationships, and the like.

What we need to do is remove the negativity, not talk about it. Therapeutic approaches have you talk about it. Motivational tapes say things like, "When you're negative, be positive. When you're stressed out, relax." But that's like moving the computer from room to room when you have a virus, instead of deleting it. We change jobs, we change relationships, we change hair-dos, cars, houses-instead of removing the negativity. Worse than that, we take a vacation! That's like turning off the computer; when you come back and turn on the computer, the virus is still there. You need to take out the virus . The Release Technique, which Lester taught-and which I now teach, because he asked me to carry on his work-is not an intellectual approach; it's a technique to release negativity.

MTM: What I find particularly interesting about your work is how you talk about the nature and the problem of desire. Would you say a little about that?

CRANE: First, to desire something- say, an experience, or an object-means we feel we don't have it. We may feel empty, lonely, lacking, or deprived; and we believe that if we possessed that object or had that experience, we'd feel filled up and we would be happy. So behind all desiring and seeking is a motivation to be happy and a belief that happiness lies in the desire's fulfillment.

What is normally taken as human happiness is getting something we want, so that the wanting, empty feeling goes away; and we feel happy for a moment- until the next desire arises. But this ordinary, human-style happiness does not come from attaining the object; it comes from no longer desiring something.

MTM: Would you give an example?

CRANE: Let's say we desperately want a new Bentley, BMW, or Lexus. We read all the brochures, check our anticipated future income, cross-check anticipated expenses, et cetera, and then we buy the car. After a few days of buyer's remorse, we happily drive our new car for all to see. We seek nothing now, and we are happy.

Is the happiness from getting the car, or from stopping the lusting?

MTM: We typically think it's from getting the car, but you're saying it's because we're no longer wanting it.

CRANE: Exactly. When we stop seeking, we are satisfied.

MTM: So, in your view, wanting something is always the problem?

"Almost 40 years ago, with my back to the wall and with only three months to live, I was forced to search for the answers to life. I decided to ask myself what it is we all want, and the answer came to me. We all want to be happy!"

-Lester Levinson, originator of The Release Technique

CRANE: I say that wanting is the source of all misery. It's what the Buddha said centuries ago: Life is suffering. The cause of suffering is desire. Ending desire ends suffering.

MTM: But you also say that, paradoxically, by releasing desire, you allow yourself to actually have what you want.

CRANE: The mind is a creative instrument of the universe; if you put a wrong idea or feeling into the mind, it will create that wrong idea for you because it creates whatever you put into it. If you put the feeling of wanting in-which comes from a feeling of lack-you are creating lack for yourself, and therefore you get lack in your life. But if you let go of wanting, paradoxically, you move into having.

The old expression, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is easy to explain. A rich person is holding in mind the idea, "I have money"-he's not wanting it. The feeling is, "I have it." A poor person who wants more money is begging, praying, trying to win the lottery, and on and on, and is constantly holding in mind the idea of lack. Therefore, a poor person is creating lack for himself. Most of the planet is into wanting and is therefore creating lack. People are not getting what they want.

The problem is not having. The problem is wanting .

If you get your negativity out of the way, your mind naturally becomes quiet, and you reach a place where you don't want anything.

MTM: And what happens then?

CRANE: Then you are free either to have or not have something, either to do or not do something. Then you can choose , which is different from wanting.

MTM: You once wrote: "This understanding [that when we stop seeking or desiring, we are satisfied] goes against the grain of all our beliefs. The ultimate conclusion of this viewpoint is that we are happiest when we do nothing, accomplish nothing, dream nothing, and are content to just rest in our own being."

CRANE: When you release your wanting, you come to a place of rest within your own being, where you feel you already have everything. Then you get peace of mind.

MTM: Is that what you meant when you wrote, "Continuous releasing becomes constant love"? That when you release enough, you get to a place within yourself where you feel a sense of peace and love-what you have also called a state of imperturbability?

CRANE: When you're feeling loving, successful, happy, and positive, it's all the same energy. We have different words for that energy, but really, it's all love. That's the energy that everybody is looking to be in. We say, "I'm really feeling good today." Or "I'm on a roll. I'm in the zone." By releasing negativity, we fall into a natural zone. And then performance levels increase, happiness increases, and our relationships with other people transform -because what everybody's looking for on the whole planet is love. .

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