We are bombarded daily with messages telling us when we get 'x' we will then be happy and fulfilled. All this is in the effort to get us to consume whatever product or service is being pitched. Advertising is highly effective in getting us to believe when we get the latest product not only will it bring us happiness but a greater sense of worth as well.
Never before have these messages come so fast and furious. We used to have to wait until our evening news or show to be exposed to them. Now they travel with us in our pocket everywhere we go. The dopamine hits we experience on a chronic basis overstimulate the brain and drive us towards obsessive consumption.
Neurons that fire together wire together
There is a saying in neuroscience that, "Neurons that fire together, wire together." This means when two or more things happen simultaneously, they become fused together in the brain. Then when one of these associations is activated it triggers the other ones as well - think fast cars and models. Sex is a survival instinct. It now is associated in the brain with a car. The emotional brain then begins to believe I need this car to sustain my existence.
One of the most insidious areas we see this in is pharmaceutical commercials. You see people running around having the time of their lives, or watching beautiful sunsets as they promote whatever drug is being advertised. But the reality is as a culture we have traded deeper meaning for stimulation, which leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled. The assertion is then if we just take this particular medication we will experience a higher level of happiness and joy.
You can never get enough of what you don't need
The solution requires a level of unplugging and beginning to appreciate what we have that matters, such as relationships, contribution, and meaningful pursuits. There is a saying, "You can never get enough of what you don't need." This is because there is not set point at which we become satisfied. This leaves us in an endless cycle of compulsive consuming.
Identify a place in your life today to begin to focus and appreciate something of real substance. Then choose another area to let go of. Take one day off of Amazon or social media and see what happens. Some of you may find this agonizing and realize you are somewhat addicted. Others may discover a day filled with more peace and fulfillment. Remember, you don't need to have it all to have it all. Abundance is a state of mind; you already possess it.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.