Let’s face it, living in the modern world is downright confusing. We are supposed to work long hours, live busy lives, but we’re also told we need rest. Every day we are inundated by various opinions – often conflicting – by “so called” experts on everything from what to eat, to how to improve our sex lives. There is big business in trying to make us all happy, and so many views out their, scientific, religious, even philosophical. It is enough to make the average person’s head spin! I get dizzy just trying to think about it. So how do we make sense of all this? How do we see past the fog of way too much confusing detail? After all, in the end aren’t we just searching for is something quite simple: a satisfying life for us, and our family?
Perhaps we should try by considering focusing on – and returning to – the basics.
What kind of basics?
The basics of what we need so we feel truly, and lastingly, satisfied as human beings.
Think of it this way. When we get down to it each of us are human beings born with fundamental desires that drive us to ensure we do what is needed to survive as a people – a species. For example, we all have desires for hunger, thirst, shelter – if we don’t eat, drink, or find shelter, we die. We have desires to be a part of a family, and have a family of our own – we survive better in families, and if we all never wanted to have kids we could kiss our species goodbye. And we have desires to be with others, to be social, to be among friends we can trust to have our backs – we are all safer in groups where our families, and us, know we protect each other, no matter what.
We can get even more basic than that.
How do you feel when your basic desires at met? How do you feel, for instance, when people value, respect, and truly appreciate you? It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? And how do you feel when your basic desires aren’t met, or you can’t see how they ever will be? We often notice this as emotional pain, or at least some feeling of discomfort. Not a great feeling, is it?
Recognising these basics is amazing.
For starters, it means that no matter our race, skin colour, sex, culture, religion, or beliefs, we really are all basically the same underneath. We are all driven by the same basic desires we can know and feeling. We all feel great heartache when our fragile young child dies in our arms. We all share the sorrow of a dear friend departing. When we get down to it there is a commonality we can all know and share. This can help unify us.
It is also amazing because we can use this understanding of the basics to help guide us, personally, and as a people.
As you may have guessed, or noticed by now, we don’t currently live in societies – civilisations – that encourage, or teach, us to meet these basic human needs/desires. In fact, they haven’t even recognised these basic desires actually exist. Instead we are being taught to find happiness in things that we know don’t actually work, such as by creating a fortune, working long and oppressive hours, looking like a model, and becoming a social icon. The ideals our societies are placing on a pedestal don’t actually meet our basic human needs – they don’t actually work. Lots of people in jail, troubling levels of drug use, crime, broken families, unsatisfying relationships, anxious and depressed children and teenagers, a growing divide between the rich and poor, are just symptoms of societies, and people, not meeting our most basic needs. Is it any wonder we are all seeking the ‘happiness cure’? We all know in our hearts it should be so much better, the desires nature wrote inside us that are going unsatisfied and unrecognised are reminding us daily.
Now we have a practical means to find a better way.
Recognise these basic desires exist inside us means each of us can know our heart, recognise the basics our humanity strives and craves to satisfy – we can intimately know, and understand, our basic desires. Recognise the basics exist and we can work to develop ways and approaches so that each of us can meet them. We can know what to strive for, like seeing a beacon in a pitch black night to guide us. As we all face, recognise, and work to meet these basics we can all finally, every day, work to actually living more satisfying and fulfilling lives.
One simple understanding can offer us all great promise.
What are these basic needs/desires?
They are summarised – in a practical and functional way – in The Balance of Self Model described on page 1 of both books, A Balance of Self, and The Fall and Rise of Women; How women can change the world.
Complexity makes us look smart – the more we can describe something in detail the more intelligent we look. But complexity can hide from us the fundamentals that can work best. Simply being, or looking, smart can get in our way, and prevent us realising the deep satisfaction our heart seeks.
Perhaps it is time each of us considered not being so easily distracted, or clouded, by so much – often unhelpful – complex information. Perhaps it is time we refocused our attention on the basics, and getting our lives, and societies, to actually work.
We can create our greatest hope by simply getting to intimately know our own heart.