We live in a world of sensationalism, euphoria, frenzy and constant seeking for ‘better’, ‘higher’ and ‘further’. So we often don’t realise that we are no longer really ourselves, no longer mentally healthy. Seeking, in fact, is synonymous with helplessness, hopelessness and even disorientation.
The big questions we need to ask ourselves: Can we challenge ourselves, in this competitive world, to cease striving for dominance and constant value growth, high expectations and comparison with others? Can we muster the trust and the courage to win, but to no longer dominate? Is it possible that we have reached a critical point and we must, with all seriousness, consider what we have learned thus far that actually corresponds to real reality? All the information to which we so readily have access for reaching our ultimate objective, all of a sudden is no longer sufficient for truly comprehending the source of our conflicts and day-to-day challenges, as this information is limited and superficial, no longer purpose-oriented.
But because we don’t understand, we keep on keeping on, doing what we know best, what we believe is right and necessary, and in so doing, getting stuck in a complex, quick-paced and rigid life.
Neuroscience tell us that our brain is not merely for thinking – our brain is to solve problems, to protect us at all times, to give us warning signals so that we keep our inner balance, our inner security and safety, to cultivate inspiration and share our commonalities, as well as to bond and belong to the circles in which we find ourselves.
If the amygdala – that part of the brain which is designed to protect us from angst, anxiety, stress, excessive demands and depression – is at constant ease, we can attain sound inner balance, reducing all those damaging external criteria and increasing our close social cohesion with others. Further, this strengthens our human relations, improves our social competence, increases our empathy, and increases our instincts to protect us and others. We become more caring and generous with ourselves and others.
So this is why constant striving to achieve high expectations is useless: it does not create any sort of real enthusiasm and inspiration within ourselves, because it is not firmly rooted and connected with ourselves. But because we simply choose not to believe this and can’t imagine that such an approach actually is by far more effective (‘I mean really…not striving is more effective than striving?’) we aim our focus towards the ultimate feeling of lust, which stems from greed. And from greed, we become dependent, victims of ourselves, destroying ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally and becoming overburdened.
We then try to cover such feelings with pride and arrogance. We become submissive and dive into self-mockery to ‘prove to the world out there what we made of’. We seek high level risks, becoming bold, impatient and disinterested, resulting in inner pain and pain to others – what I call addiction. Addiction for more money follows addiction for more power and more dominance. Such a pursuit of a successful career requires that we display higher competence which again results in more pleasure and desire, which leads to deflection and to instantly having more of what we don’t have, which leads to decadence. The addiction for more play and more game leads for to sensationalism, euphoria, frenzy and superficiality. It’s a fatal cycle.
We have to admit that today’s global problems and challenges can no longer to be solved solely by thinking but rather require a much deeper level of comprehension which goes far beyond thinking, an awareness deep into our conscious and sub-conscious. But sadly, we too readily accept our plight of being misled, manipulated, dominated, irritated and crushed under enormous stress, only then to seek more security, when in fact it is recognition and attention we want, no longer to indulge all these additions, which put us in a state of endless competition, comparison and dependency – again, the frenzied cycle.
At the end of the day, challenges are overcome by being attentive and mindful of ourselves. This is the only way to eliminate fear and anxiety and re-cultivate our inner balance so that we as people (society as well as companies and organisations) better deal with the unknown and the unexpected, accept reality and deal with it positively and practically. Negative emotions have negative impacts and paralyse our dysfunctional emotional behaviour patterns in terms of the way we perceive the world and the manner in which we make decisions.
In other words, it is only by not getting worked up are we able to work out trials and challenges.
Only when we cultivate placidity and serenity for ourselves and in any system (family, school, company or organisation) we begin to feel secure and safe and express inspiration and enthusiasm, and we bond and gain a sense of belonging. This requires a different learning regarding how to learn. We may not be able to decrease the pace of complexity and efficiency, but we can become aware and conscious, allowing us to think differently, as the level of emotive and stressful pain otherwise becomes nearly intolerable.
We need to incorporate “Islands of Stillness” to withdraw from excessive daily demands. We need to gain a better understanding of the source of problems from which we then can create innovative products and services. But this will require an unlearning of the manner we have previously learned. We must discard the old notions into which we have been steeply conditioned, and replace these with different talents, skills, moral values, mindful virtues and other behaviour qualities.
But as long as we fail to understand why we are mindlessly seeking, we will continue in loneliness burdened by an overwhelmed and stressed life, keeping us all dependent, caught in the cycle.
At the end of the day we must ask ourselves this: can we afford to carry on the way we currently run our economies and political systems, and living life as we are doing so far? Can we find the capacity to be more empathetic, cultivating togetherness and solidarity, giving value and competition an entirely different context other than seeking for more? Do we have the courage to (un)seek?
This is our choice.