In a world that has its foundations in the capitalist economy of perpetual growth, are you being reduced to nothing more than a consumer? Are we being led to believe that the only reason that we exist is to work for money that we can then use to consume? In the words of Tyler Durden from Fight Club “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. Working jobs we hate so that we can buy shit that we don’t need.”
Economists and the mainstream media often refer to the general public (You and I) as consumers. Sit with that for a minute. Feel into it. How does it feel for you to be labelled as a consumer? We are so much more than that and yet this is what so many of us have been led to believe.
Of course, taking in food to nourish yourself is essential for sustaining your body and all of its functions. The concern that I have is that we have become so reliant on the short-term rewards of consumption that we are missing out on being connected to Life. We are living for the next meal, the next delivery, the next social media post, and the next holiday. We disconnect from the simplicity of the now and from the needs we are trying to meet. We detach ourselves from fully experiencing life in all its fullness and beauty and strive for moments short-lived, extrinsically motivated moments of pleasure.
Take the daily act of eating as an example. Eating is for many of us, simply an act of putting something in our bodies to satisfy a craving. That craving is not always a physical hunger, but often an emotional hunger. For many of us, eating is about filling an empty hole rather than a sensual, present moment experience. We rarely ask ourselves “Why am I eating right now?” “Am I actually hungry, or am I just trying to fill some emptiness in myself?”
When was the last time that you ate a meal in complete silence, and immersed yourself in the tastes, the sensations, the textures, the scents of the eating experience?
Taking time to connect to yourself, and to your needs before taking in anything can be a very revealing practice. Try it. Before you consume your next meal, snack, social media post, or YouTube video, or before you head into town or go online to buy something, take a moment to connect with how you are feeling in the moment. Are you feeling spacious, open, clear, relaxed and connected to which life serving needs you are meeting? Alternately, are you feeling anxious, tense, resistant, fearful and trying to satisfy your hunger? A craving that will be temporarily satisfied only to be exposed again as soon as the effects of your indulgence have worn off?
I believe that it is imperative to us living sustainably on this planet that we begin to remember that it is only intrinsic motivation that is truly fulfilling. As long as we are placing our pleasure, joy and happiness outside of us then we will continue to attempt to fill the empty void deep inside with more stuff. We cannot afford to continue with the mentality of infinitely more, infinitely bigger, infinitely better, and infinitely faster on a planet with finite resources. I believe that not only for us but for each other and for the future of our shared home we need to start looking to intrinsic motivation. Why are we doing what we are doing? We can do this by becoming aware of which needs we are trying to meet with our words and actions and also to consider if our chosen strategies to meet those needs are actually life serving.
The question we could be asking ourselves is not whether we will feel fulfilled afterwards, but do we actually feel fulfilled now?
In my experience, when we are driven by intrinsic motivation, the constant drive to consume more than we need disappears. We eat when we are physically hungry, we purchase only as much as we need to support our needs, we are content just sitting and looking out of the window, we no longer desire to fill our lives with stuff in order to feel alive. The joy of life is not found in the next acquisition or experience, but rather right here and right now in the living energy of our shared needs.
In part 2 of this blog post, I will explore the concept of the living energy of needs, and why this energy is in abundance and always available to us all. We just need to know where to look.
Would you like to learn to live from intrinsic motivation and be connected to your authentic self?
Take a look at our NVC courses to learn more.