I brought up, in the last session, the Darwinian notion of “survival of the fittest.” While this idea has immense implications for getting a handle on what the heck is going on, let’s see if we can illuminate the truth.
I have a question for you:
What motivates you?
What moves you; what causes you to act?
You’ve likely heard of Abraham Maslow, the 20th Century American psychologist, best known for devising our hierarchy of needs.
Base level needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are physiological or survival essentials like food, water, shelter and clothing.
The next level up is safety and security. We need food and water immediately; then we’d like to have some hope of making it to our next meal.
After safety and security are social needs: belongingness and love. We are social beings. As youngsters, we can’t survive without older, more experienced and capable people looking out for us. As we mature we want to fit in and ultimately secure a place for ourselves amongst a group.
The fourth level in the hierarchy of needs is esteem or status. Once we feel like we belong we ascend the pecking order gaining power.
The culminating level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the level above esteem and status is what he termed self-actualization: realizing and achieving our purpose.
Needs are critical to survival, as Maslow determined, but we also have other motivators – wants. Wants stem from the environment, opportunities, and personal and social tendencies and preferences.
Life, as is its nature, presents us with circumstances; you could say obstacles, hurdles or challenges. Some people, most people, well really all people at times, interpret circumstances as difficulties and difficulties cause discomfort and pain.
As a matter of course we prefer pleasure to pain so we often avoid or move away from life’s challenges rather than deal with them and grow. We tend to move toward what feels good – what we find pleasurable – and move away from what we find displeasing, uncomfortable or painful.
When we are hungry and thirsty we feel discomfort. The solution to our discomfort is to eat and drink. Ridding ourselves of hunger is pleasing. We seek pleasure and avoid pain.
But life is more complicated than just feeding ourselves; life holds much more potential.
Living can be reduced to one thing, one word. We live to feel.
Everything we do; everything we do, we do to feel. No exceptions. Life, this experience of life is a feeling of adventure. We explore and experience, learn and grow, create and contribute; and we feel through all of it. As we express life we feel.
And we constantly strive to feel better. We want to feel good.
The highest good is what Aristotle determined to be the purpose of life: to be happy. Happiness is the ultimate pleasure – the feeling we ultimately desire.
The feelings we feel come from one source – our minds.
Our minds manage energy; which we feel in our bodies as emotion. Interpreting external stimuli and thought our minds spark emotions – feelings.
Most of us assume the thoughts we think and the emotions we feel are products of our physical environment. We tend to believe what we feel and how we feel are the result of what the world and others around us present. Whatever emotion we feel; whatever level of energy we sense in our bodies, good, bad or indifferent; is the result of something out there; is caused by something out there. When in reality what we feel is always and only the result of our interpretation of what we perceive out there.
What motivates and moves us to act is the need or want or desire to feel.
Most of us however, refuse to believe we can manage what we feel through our minds.
Most people believe they feel the way they feel because of external circumstances or the environment. Whatever is out there – obstacles, hurdles, challenges – cause us to feel whatever we feel here. That’s just not so.
Managing our feelings through thought is the only real power we have. And it’s the only power we need.
Ninety-eight or ninety-nine percent of people deny responsibility for how they feel. They believe external conditions determine how they feel. And since external conditions – obstacles, hurdles, challenges, difficulties – cause discomfort; the way to gain control over feelings is to gain control over external circumstances.
This is a key factor in determining what the heck is going on.
Consider pleasure and pain as a continuum. On one end is pleasure, on the other is pain. Life presents circumstances. We tend to move toward pleasure and away from pain.
But, as we said, it’s not as simple as that.
When dealing with difficulties, most people, and I’m serious here, most people don’t believe they control how they feel. They believe external circumstances – those difficulties – cause them to feel good, bad or indifferent. They’ve got it all wrong, but this is how they believe life works.
Since external stuff makes me feel – getting more control over external stuff will give me control over how I feel.
Again this is absolutely not, not how things work.
You have control over your own mind. You determine what you think; and in turn how you feel. Your ability to think is your power. But most people, really the vast majority, refuse to believe the truth.
They contend, to the bitter end, that it is external forces which determine how they feel.
Have you ever heard this: know the truth and the truth will set you free?
The truth is you control how you feel. Only once you accept; know and believe this truth will you actually be free.
You control how you feel.
Let’s see. In our few minutes together, through three sessions, we’ve determined: life is in motion. Change is the one constant.
Life moves in cycles.
We are on a feeling adventure – we live to feel.
Our interpretation of circumstances determines how we feel.
Instinct, emotion and thought can motivate; while our ability to think is our greatest power, for most people instinct and emotion prevail.
Most people refuse to believe they are in control and therefore refuse to think. Most people believe whatever is out there determines how they feel.
So to gain control of how they feel, people seek to gain control of external circumstances.
Refusing to accept the truth, people bind themselves, and yet still yearn to be free.
We pick up with this desire to be free in our next session.