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The Real Reason so Many of Us are Unhappy!

wy-we are unhappy

Do you feel like you constantly treading water but not getting anywhere? Everyday feels exactly the same? Weeks blur into each other and the years seem to be speeding up. Each time you look again you are back to where you started. Yet you are trying your best to get ahead, to make it to shore, but it all seems hopeless. You are left with one conclusion: you are the problem. Many of us can see ourselves living out this story — and too many of us believe we are the problem — that we are the reason we are not seeing success. It’s our fault that we feel anxious all the time, frazzled, depressed, angry, and unmotivated.

Success for Most is Doomed to Fail

As hard as this may be for many people to accept, everything we are trying to do to be successful is largely doomed to fail. This can’t be true right? Looking around you see people succeeding, or at least it looks that way. However, when you look closer, the only people that are getting anywhere are the ones that have learned to manipulate the current system to their benefit. Their success, if one can even call it that lies within a narrow band of the modern human experience: capitalism. Albeit truthfully narrow, capitalism has become the predominant life way of the modern man and woman. So when we say we see other people succeeding, what we are really saying is that they are succeeding in material wealth.

There is no denying that in our modern consumer driven society for those of us that are simply trying to survive, material wealth will make our lives easier. But just because life becomes easier, doesn’t mean that in of itself it will lead to personal fulfilment. One only has to look around to see extraordinary successful material wealthy people committing suicide, losing themselves in drugs, and self sabotaging their success. As cliche as it may be: “money doesn’t buy you happiness”.

The Lie of Success

The notion of survival of the fittest, to hoard as much things as you can, to be prepared to do what ever it takes to climb over the person in front of you, and personal gain at all costs — was never our nature as a continuation from hunter gathers, to farming, to cities, to the modern world we now find ourselves in. This narrative of modernity that we now find ourselves embedded into, the consumeristic culture, was untrue for most of our time as human animals on this planet.

For most of our time on this planet we were hunter gatherers. In those societies it was frowned upon to hoard, or to have more than the next person in the tribe. The tribe was largely egalitarian, whilst leadership was temporary, with anyone vying for permanence in that role, made fun of, or simply ostracised. If you led, you did so by example, not simply by title. There was no competition or trying to outdo the next person, but rather reciprocity and personal freedom in general were the norm. Problems were mostly solved within the tribe without the need for courts or prisons. While our hunter gatherer ancestors didn’t have much in the way of technology as we recognise today, with stone, wood, fibres and bone they comfortably met all their material needs. For the most part it was living a life of few needs that were simply met. All of this was done without having to destroy their environment either. I could go on an on, but I am sure you get the point.

Clearly, up until around 12000 years ago this is how virtually everyone lived. But things have changed and not for the better it seems, at least for the vast majority of us. While the reasons for how we now find ourselves in despair may be complex, one thing is certain it is not how we lived for the vast span of time on this planet. It seems to me, that we have allowed those with deep greed to take control of everyone’s life trajectory. I am certain greed has always been with us, but from the research done on hunter-gatherer societies it was never allowed. Hoarding, or even having a greater share than others, was seen as socially unacceptable. For example as James Woodburn a prominent social anthropologist points out, among the !Kung and the Hadza, hoarding food when another person is hungry would be unthinkable.

The Modern World is Spiritually Bankrupt

The bottom line the way the current economic system is set up allows for a few to control the many. It allows greed to go unabated, built of a lie of scarcity and that consumption is the only path to happiness. Most of us have been flung into this consumeristic culture without much to say about it. To make matters worse, those that lead the charge on how wonderful life is now compared to the supposed brutish short lived lives of our ancestors (which is a lie as seen earlier), design systems to ensure we continue to believe that we can all win if we just hustle a lit bit harder.

The truth is, you can only win in the current system if you are willing to become the very thing that is keeping everyone else in a perpetual state of economic slavery. What you need to become in the end isn’t going to be liberated, but rather a cog in the wheel of consumeristic psychosis, believing all along that this is what being human is all about. You will like many who have reached the capitalistic top, feel terribly empty, while attempting to fill that emptiness with more of what the system says you should to feel better.


Showing Up Via an Ancient Story

Or….You can begin to search for an alternative way to show up in your life. First you have to acknowledge that our collective mental trauma is caused by attempting to integrate into this modern system of consumption. That the consumeristic nature of our modern economy is in fact a sickness twisted and manipulated by those who are most unwell among us. Philosopher, Krishnamurti reminds us, “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” 

As Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh notes, “We have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims. We have created a society in which the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, and in which we are so caught up in our own immediate problems that we cannot afford to be aware of what is going on with the rest of the human family or our planet Earth. In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over a few seeds of grain, unaware that in a few hours they will all be killed.

It’s time for all of us to realise that in fact our default mode of being is one of deep connection and caring towards our fellow man. That we are not meant to be competing with each other, but rather cooperating so that each of us can live our best lives. That having just enough to live a fulfilled life is what happiness truly means. To not take more than we need to survive comfortably and to give to those who are struggling.

I know we have heard this all before. It does sound utopian. And yes, it often doesn’t work. The reason this approach to life fails for most isn’t because people are the problem, but rather the system in which we live is the problem. As political activist, Emma Goldman “With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities?” This modern system we now find ourselves in is designed to pit each one of us against the other. It’s designed to have ‘haves-and-have nots.’ There’s no other way, because without them above, and most of us below, the system would fracture and fail. The system teaches us from an early age to look down on anyone who doesn’t seem to be winning as either lazy, stupid and or no good.

In the end, there is no easy answer to any of the above, but from my end, one way is to build a community of support and connection — encouraged by the lessons of our ancestors so that we can embody their wisdom to show up in our lives truly fulfilled. Consider joining the TELEGRAM TRIBE HERE>>

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