Programs at the Option Institute are based on a well defined and time-proven philosophy called The Option Process®. On this page you can read more about our foundational principles and the benefits of The Option Process.
Principles of the Option Process® and the Option Philosophy™
We’ve been educated (or mis-educated) about how life works and how we work, and this education has made life a lot harder than it needs to be. We offer our participants and students something different. Below are some key principles of the Option Process.
1. Happiness Is A Choice
Though many of us speak as if our emotions happen to us, we believe that they are responses we choose in an effort to take care of ourselves. Misery, fear, anger, distress, anxiety, and discomfort are optional, not inevitable. We can show you how to meet crises and challenges with comfort and ease – and to create personal happiness in a sustainable way.
2. You have your own answers
Oftentimes, we look for our answers from experts, institutions, the media, and the people around us – everyone but ourselves. We believe that you possess all of your own answers to the personal issues that mark your life. We can teach you to access and rely upon your own internal insight.
3. Everything we feel, say, and do has a chosen belief which fuels it
We filter all our experiences through our beliefs and mindsets (about ourselves, others, and events around us). These beliefs, in turn, determine how we feel and what we do. Most importantly, people’s beliefs are changeable. We can help you to examine and then re-choose beliefs which fuel comfort, happiness, and the inner strength to overcome life’s challenges.
4. Being non-judgmental is powerful, not passive
Most of us see making judgments (“that’s terrible,” “he’s mean”) as crucial to our moral compass and our ability to take decisive action. However, we see judgments as leading to discomfort, anger, clouded perceptions, and muddled decision-making.That’s why we help you to drop judgments, thus increasing your focus, decisiveness, and ability to handle crises.
5. Self-criticism and self-doubt may be “normal” (as in “usual”) but they aren’t “natural” (as in “a necessary part of the human condition”)
You are not condemned to live the rest of your life thinking that you are not good enough, that something is wrong with you, that you are not whole, that you are not okay as you are. These are learned beliefs, and we can teach you different, more self-supportive ones. Why? Because we don’t believe that anything is wrong with you, and we do believe that you are okay just the way you are.
6. We aren’t the victims we’re taught to be
At every turn, most of us are treated as though we are victims – of our genes, or our upbringing, or our subconscious, of outside events. We have specific self-empowering strategies to enable you to capitalize on your own ultimate capability to be in the driver’s seat in every circumstance.
7. Authenticity, not people-pleasing, builds close relationships and safety
Throughout our lives, we are taught to say what people want to hear, to mask our true selves, to focus on who others think we should be rather than being who we sincerely are. Most of us see this as safe – and crucial to maintaining our relationships. We see personal authenticity and honesty as the key to feeling safe (because you don’t have to live in fear of being “found out”) and creating close, meaningful relationships (because each person can know and love the other for who they really are).
8. Changing the way you see things changes everything
Most of us think that events in our lives are inherently good or bad, and we can only hope for more good than bad. We give you tools to change your point of view about life events. We have seen, over and over again, that learning to change your perspective on external occurrences changes your entire internal experience – which then changes how you deal with external occurrences.
9. We do not teach “the truth”
We do not teach “the truth.” We do not teach “the right way to live.” What we do teach are practical tools, principles, strategies, and perspectives for being overcoming life’s challenges and sustaining personal happiness.
A letter from the Co-Founder of the Option Institute
–Barry Neil Kaufman
Welcome to the Option Institute.
Many of us travel through life learning about different philosophical, psychological, religious and spiritual paths to find clarity, comfort and understanding about our lives and the world around us. Some of us call this the search for knowledge. Some view this as the inevitable outcome of the human preoccupation with sanity and justice. Others believe we all search for God. No matter what the rationale, all of us have a yearning for connection, communion and inner peace. Sometimes our search takes us from discipline to discipline, keeping our options open and never quite committing, we end up empty-handed. There certainly are many roads to heaven, many avenues to clarity, many routes to peace of mind and many byways to love. However, wisdom suggests we travel far enough on one of those paths to reach a destination of heaven, clarity, peace of mind or love.
We believe the personal growth programs at the Option Institute offer a path that really delivers. And it has for almost 30 years to our amazing program participants from over 100 countries worldwide.
If you are new to The Option Institute, our programs offer incredible opportunities to gain practical, lifetime tools to face challenges, strengthen relationships, or begin believing and living the life you want. You may want to consider The Happiness Option Weekend or Fearless or dive right into Optimal Self Trust. For those of you already on the path of your extraordinary life, consider our core summer program Inner Strength.
We look forward to seeing each of you on our mountainside in the Berkshires.”
With love and smiles,