I have been reflecting lately on this particular topic of our path towards happiness and how it is related to our ability to manage our emotions.
I have experienced myself, and I strongly believe, that one of the roots for our incapacity to feel joy in every aspect of our lives, why we feel sometimes is too much to handle is based on a very simple concept: we live under constant threat.
Right, I know it might not be much of a discovery—especially in these turbulent times: pandemic situation, civil unrest, political discord and instability, economical uncertainty, death, and a long etc. of mental health issues that have accompanied all of that.
But here is the news! It was your choice. No, I don’t mean you chose COVID-19 or any of the other turbulence. Your choice may very well have been incidental, unconscious. But even that decision did not come on its own, it is very likely the consequence of a much deeper paradigm: we live in a world of scarcity.
Although the statement may be true as an economist presents it, here is where our decision has really damaged our ability to see clear from an emotional perspective. We have decided that because our physical reality follows the laws of scarcity, that our whole identity lives by the same principles. Let me break it down to you: that is just a lie. A very convincing lie, but a lie nonetheless.
You do not have a limited amount of patience, or kindness, or love. You have not run out of emotional options; you have just decided that part of your identity is going to be run under the same rules. The danger is very clear. At a physical level, our brain, mind, and body form a perfect bundle for one purpose, and one purpose only: survival. We are perfect machines of survival, and one of our most powerful tools is our sense of danger and threat, for without it, we could never see what is coming to get us or our basic substance for life.
But why have we let our emotions and feeling to be guided by the same principles? Granted we still have to survive to even experience feelings, but once that is covered, why remain in the same alert driven mode? The idea that the world is out to get us, at an emotional level, is the basic error of paradigm that blocks our capacity for progression towards ultimate happiness.
Let us do an exercise to understand the underpinning principles I’m trying to convey here. We can now agree that our strongest physical drive is that of survival. Nothing of this world at a physical level motivates us more that to live, grow, reproduce, and ultimately let our life run its course. Now stop for a moment. Think of the person you love the most. Think of their faces, their voice, the memories you share together. Now think of the feelings you have as you do so. What wouldn’t you do for that person? Let me say, would you be willing to give your life for him/her?
See what happened? All of the sudden we have overridden the most powerful physical motivator. We are willing to set survival aside just for the sake of love. Think about that for a moment. Why have we decided there are other internal motivators—as behavioral scientist have been studying for quite some time—stronger than love?
Parents, do you want your children to listen, to grow well, to be something in life? Show them love. Leaders, do you want to truly engage your audience, employees, political party, or any form of group? Drive them through love.
No, this is not about a utopic proposal, I mean to really connect, communicate, and lead through the power of emotional engagement, which ultimately points to love. Love of one-self, love for our closest ones, love for the personal development, love for a brighter future.
I have come to learn, that there is no greater power to change the world than love.