You might be pardoned for thinking that the words “I want it now” might be what you hear your small child say when he or she wants something that you are reluctant to agree to. Except that it is also something we adults have come to accept as the norm too, as a recent conference on ethical capitalism showed. While we might feel indignant at the practices of bankers and corporate executives in their chasing short-term rewards at the expense of long-term needs like investment or the needs of the wider society of which they are a part, it is worth reflecting that they, just like us, are at another level also mirrors of the wider society in which they and we live.
We’ve grown used to instant gratification: “me now” includes being able to get things quickly through the channels that now exist in our consumer society. Suddenly being cut off from such access can today be deeply traumatic, as people who’ve been summarily made redundant and had to surrender car and phone on the spot and be escorted off the premises will know, or those who have lost money, credit cards and passport when abroad, or when a business goes spectacularly bust like Lehmans did in 2008. We’re so hooked into rapid satisfaction of need that we can seem unable to wait and be patient, or less inclined to consider the needs of others when we’re on a “me now” trip.
A lot has recently been said about the last few decades’ shift to market capitalism as compared to the collectivist post-war period and the dismantling of many of the welfare state structures. On a personal level, aspirations can seem to count for more than satisfaction for what is.
This could hold a certain confusion about the “now” experience” and this is where it is important to distinguish between the desire-orientated “me now” driver and the “now” of present-moment awareness. They are quite different. The former is driven by an egoic desire for more which can have as its underpinning such root thoughts as “there’s not enough”, “I might lose out”, or “I’m not OK” if I don’t get something I want. There is that element of the needy, impatient, rebel child within, who unconsciously felt he or she never got their deepest needs met, like being loved and appreciated. After all we can enrich ourselves, and have everything we want, as some can, like it seems about 10% of the UK population at present, and still not know peace and happiness.
Yet when we are being mindful and in the state of present-moment awareness we are aware as the witness of the power of desire within us, but not caught up in it, and can let it go. Instead of it being a compulsion, we can take the bigger picture and see that we do not “need” what we seek in order to be OK, because we are already OK. Life is complete right now. So, what’s the point of it all?
When we’re driven, we’re at risk of perpetuating our unhappiness, because we’re addicted to desire and wanting. Yet this is not who we are. We are so much more. The danger is that we can keep being drawn back into desire addiction. It’s such a powerful pattern.
As ever we’re being presented with opportunities to know who we are, and bankers’ bonuses and our insistence on instant gratification present us with more opportunities to see beyond the ego and know who we are.
I give coaching to help people re-orientate their goals and get more real and lasting satisfaction in their life. To learn more, click here