Category: Inspiration

The Hamster Wheel of Consumerism

In this digital era we are being bombarded with information, and this has a great effect on how we perceive the world and how we lead our lives. We have become mental slaves of the advertisements and commercials that we are continually exposed to, and we have the desire to imitate the lifestyle of celebrities that we see in pop culture news. This system of striving for a more luxurious life often leads to frustration and disappointment, as we can never have enough to appease our mind.

There is always something new around the corner. Whatever magnificent thing we buy, a new model with new features will soon hit the market, and it will make the thing you just bought seem obsolete or outdated. So we never feel truly satisfied and this makes us more susceptible to an even greater appetite for materialism.

This is normal. Better said, it is the norm. Our entire culture is built on these easy pleasures. We are tempted to look for superficial gratification and so we buy trendy smartphones and shiny designer footwear, believing they will make us feel better. Still, buying a car or cellphone brings you no more than momentary joy. That’s because we’re never satisfied and our hunger for possessions needs constant to be fueled with new random stuff that advertisements are convincing us we have to have. Our everyday aspiration seems to be to live a superficial, pleasure-driven and greedy life, like a rat in a Skinner box that is always looking for the next dopamine shot.

Does this retail therapy really work for you?

BLOG | The Hamster Wheel of Consumerism

The submissive way in which we try to find happiness isn’t working. In fact, it is inane. You can strive for the typical pursuits that are desired by most people, like wealth, fame and possessions, but these base urges are not going to generate much happiness. It is people, friends and family, that matter. A healthy relationship is also an apparent happiness booster. Likewise, experiencing things will bring you a lot more joy than having things. The things that don’t last, like a night out or a city trip, almost always create a lasting happiness, while having something that lasts longer, like a car or a computer, soon loses its attraction.

Of course it’s easier to go with the flow, than to try to make independent life decisions. When life confuses us, when we are overwhelmed by misfortune, purchasing stuff is a time-honored coping mechanism. We feel a void in our lives and try to fill it with buying a silk shirt, sunglasses, a leather jacket, a 70-inch flat-screen, a new car, and all kinds of other crap we don’t necessarily need.

This is how we have been taught – from a very young age on – to get through difficult passages in our lives. Our parents did it as well, and so they gave us the impression that happiness was mainly to be obtained by material things.

When we are restless, we will often look for an immediate solution, splashing out our hard earned money on pointless things. Regrettably enough, these purchases have the opposite effect than what we’d expect. Sure, material things give us a temporary enjoyment, but that effect doesn’t last very long, and very soon we will feel our stress hormone cortisol increasing again. So with our credit card in hand, and our 24/7 access to the internet, we get carried away to buy more stuff, in the hope that happiness will spontaneously present itself, if we only have enough sparkly possessions which we can brag about.

Impulsively following your basic desires makes you a slave to your yearnings, a slave to the ideals and shady values of those around you. The thousands of advertisements you’re exposed to induce chemical signals in your mind so you will feel the urge to purchase more things.

Let’s say that at the end of your life you would discover that other people weren’t all that impressed with your lifestyle and the things you owned. Do you really want to depart this life leaving a big house filled with meaningless stuff? Or do you want to leave this planet knowing that people will think of you for all the wonderful memories you’ve lived and shared with them?

The obvious conclusion would be to reduce our desires and wants, to find peace and happiness by not wanting so much.

I disagree. Our ambition should not be to remove desire completely from our lives. Instead, our goal should be to transfer our desires to more valuable pursuits, like compassion, redemption, friendship, creating memories… To invest more in meaningful experiences with the people we love… These things we should pursue with great passion.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

We are all VUP’s (Very Unimportant Persons)

It doesn’t matter how important you are today, sooner or later you will fade into insignificance. For some it might require a couple of centuries to evaporate out of the collective memory, others start to become less famous or unimportant just after their coffin has been covered with dirt.

It can be depressing, when you are confronted with your own insignificance, but it is what it is, and the only thing you can do, is to accept it.

For people like me, there is little to be worried about. I have been a VUP all of my life, and am pretty certain I will remain so for whatever time I have left. When you put things into perspective, being a VUP gives us an enormous freedom, as the universe is indifferent to what we do, so we can actually do whatever we want.

When you contemplate the utter magnitude of the universe, the endlessness of passing time, a single human lifetime is remarkably minuscule and insignificant. Even when you become a VIP on earth, the universe doesn’t care, and the difference you will be able to make, if at all any, is only going to last a very limited time.

Nevertheless, just because what you can do might only resonate a tiny little bit, it doesn’t mean it’s not still worth doing. Making a difference doesn’t mean doing something that’s going to change the world, let alone that it would affect the universe. You can do things that mean something to yourself, to your friends, to strangers, or to people in need. It will not give you eternal fame, but being kind to people, making someone’s life less difficult, will definitely make you happy. You matter to you, and to the people you love, and that should be enough.

The most wonderful thing about bringing joy to people and to yourself, is that it overwhelms the rest of the world, as the person you have been kind to, will most likely pay it forward. And so the ripples of what you do might somewhat change the world, after all.

Being kind to someone, making their day less hard, might not seem like much, but if everyone would do something good for someone else, the sequence of kindness could incite a wide-reaching wave of random acts of kindness.

If the things you achieve have a bearing on your community or even on a single other person, then it actually doesn’t matter that the universe doesn’t give a damn.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

But on the Bright Side…

Okay… Maybe – at first – it seems that there is no bright side. Aside from the lurking summer, obviously… In which “lurking” means that the sun is actually there, behind the clouds, but we are not aware of it, let alone that the cold morning air is aware of it, and that it would dare to send us the prospect of a warm midday or a less damp dawn.

I’ve never minded that my life sucked, as I always believed it would soon change. It was not really a thing for me, that I was waiting for something that possibly would never come. Still, the longer I waited for it not to arrive, the more obstacles I found that hampered my happiness – or that stopped me to have a simple stroke of luck.

If someone had to persevere the soul-swallowing sensation of continuously being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it might as well be me, as I considered it to be one of my greatest talents.

But then – out of the blue – I fell in love (again).

When you’re in love, everything changes. Mostly for the worse, but sometimes, just every so often, it changes for the better. As soon as we experience true love, life becomes wonderful. As soon as we are brave enough to let love enter our lives, without holding back, we start to heal. A sparkling love feels like a rebirth. Unless you love without regrets, everything will feel like a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches.

The miracle of love will make it easier for us to really be in the moment. And it is in that moment that we will be able to see what it is that we truly want. Then it is just a question to find out what makes you come to life, what makes you happy, …and go for that, without constraints.

I am aware that my expectations are high, that my line of thinking is impractical and not sensible – or realistic – but it is way better than having no expectations at all. It is better than to be happy with the status quo, to accept this harsh and cruel world, instead of going for the full and sincere sweetness of a self-created paradise. When I look at what lies ahead, I can only see a whole new beautiful chapter in the making. A period of magnificent transformation is coming, and it will lead me to fresh inspiring adventures.

And yeah, I know how this might sound. You’ll probably tell me that I have a severe case of ‘blue sky thinking’, but I sincerely believe that these feelings are truer than true, that I have seen the light, that I am opening up to something superior than anything else I’ve opened up to before.

We were all raised to embrace analytical and logical thought, but our culture declines when problem-solving is controlled by an overly pragmatic view of possibilities. Most classes in schools are focusing on studying practical things, placing students in boxes, making them into useful workers, rather than allowing them to be flexible and creative. This kind of system leads to a society of sheep, where the corporations are the herding dogs. Honestly, who would want to be a part of such an emotionless and unidealistic world? We are far too magical to keep on going for this misconception of what life should be like. We deserve something better.

Disappointment about the reality of life is not only inevitable, it is needed to keep you levelheaded and functional. That is what people say, anyway. In reality that kind of thinking turns us into a bunch of listless pessimists. The reality of life is what you make it. When you always listen to the voice that tells you what you have to do, and not to do what you need, you will never achieve true happiness.

I refuse to submit to negativity and to live a boring, purposeless life. Instead I am going to look at the bright side and aim for the stars. I will free my mind from daily concerns and look for beauty and splendor in everything around me, by actively nourishing a creative, fulfilling life.

I recommend you do the same.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

Leave Me Alone

What is this obsession we have with death? Or with fame? Or with anything, actually? Do we really believe we are special as a species? That our complexity, our creativity, outclasses any other? In the entire universe?

Because, as you might have anticipated, it doesn’t. We are not out of the ordinary. Our melancholy is not the deepest. Nor is it the most insightful. We are just as superficial as any other creature that has evolved in the cosmos.

Thank goodness for that, by the way. Just imagine we would actually be as superior as we sometimes think we are. What responsibility would we have to bear? What would become of us, when we truly would believe that any idea we had, any feeling we experienced, would be special? That it would be important enough to preserve any philosophical conception that came up in our little minds?

Thank God we are not unique. Praise Jesus that we are just a bunch of atoms. The alternative theory is the metaphysical one – the religious belief that something as complex as human life couldn’t just have happened randomly, so there must have been a creator of some kind…

God, you cannot image how much I hate religious people…

Well, they are actually okay. As they are just as insignificant as I am. And I am pretty insignificant, as this blog should have proven by now.

So, leave me alone, already. I do not need to know that Jesus will come to save me, as I do not want to be saved. I do not believe there is life after death, as I don’t wish there to be any awareness after I die. I in fact want to be fully unaware, if at all possible. Let me dissolve and let my human molecules form other random bunches of atoms, when I die.

I’d like that.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

The Importance of Being Different

We don’t want to be different. We want to be original, but in such a way that others want to be just like us. They need to feel the desire to be just as ‘original’ as we are. If they do not have that longing, to be normal but simultaneously slightly different, they are predictable and don’t merit our company or even our attention.

Sounds a bit funny, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

We all unconsciously search for the conformity in ourselves. We want to be noticed, but at the same time we don’t want to be an outsider. We want to fit in, but rather in an exceptional way.

And this is where it gets problematic. Being normal and being different are two colliding worlds. It is impossible to be truly different, while we aspire to be normal at the same time. It is a silly thing to try and hide our inconsistencies, just to fit in. We should not only accept our differences, but appreciate them, treasure them. Fitting in is ignoring who you are. It is obstructing you of being yourself. If they call you a rare bird or an eccentric, as if it is an insult, you should see it as a positive statement. Since they are compliantly blending in, while you are magnificently standing out.

We are ashamed of being considered atypical, as we are scared of being alone. But the thing is, that we should not be scared to be alone, just as we should never be ashamed to be ourselves. It truly is as simple and as complicated as that.

Going against the social norms makes you think in a different way. It makes you more creative. Your unique perspective will never let you down. People who are ‘normal’ are boring other people and themselves to tears. People who are strange, who are peculiar, who do not fit in, will never cease to surprise and fascinate others, as well as themselves.

Everyone is different. We have had different experiences, have lived different lives, thought different things and have obsessed about different stuff. We all have our own level of consciousness. No two persons are the same. Literally nobody agrees completely with how you think. Every person relates differently to the world and their surroundings. What feels like normal behavior to you, can appear like bizarre behavior to someone else. So, yes, we are all different, but at the end of the day we’re just people living in the same world.

Be that as it may, we are not considered equally socially acceptable. If we are not mindful, this reality of being different could harm our self-worth. Being socially acceptable is so pushed down our throat from the day we are born, that it is hard to say no to it. From an early age we are told that we have to act in certain ways to be accepted, so we sculpt ourselves, trying to match society’s expectations.

One of our basic needs is the desire for love. We need to be loved. In order to earn love, we usually choose to be someone we are not. We mimic to be who the other person wants us to be. Sooner or later, we get tired of this constant pretense, and the relationship will come to an end. Paradoxically enough we are always linking love to sincerity, while almost everybody wears a mask when they are falling in love.

And yet it is very simple, how we can get rid of being socially acceptable, although I must admit that it requires some considerable courage and you will need to take some emotional chances.

The people that are truly worth it, will never abandon you. In fact, they will actually appreciate your little – and maybe not so little – quirks, and they will sincerely love you for them. So, stop pretending that you are somebody else, and just be yourself.

Can you imagine the exciting freedom you will feel, when you start to be your true self? Yes, you will almost certainly lose some friends, but the relationships that overcome the fact that you don’t care about what people think of you, anymore, and the new relationships that will develop after that, will be so much more fulfilling than you ever thought possible.

You see, I truly believe there is a little conflict with the world in all of us. From the playground on we spend our lives struggling to camouflage our ‘being different’, but if you scratch away the surface you can see that under that layer of disguise is another person that slightly doesn’t fit in.

Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could just embrace our differences, rather than be worrying about them being exposed, our whole damn lives? Wouldn’t it be more rewarding, if relationships are built on openness, affection and empathy?

Aside from some superficial people, who are not capable to appreciate who we truly are, what have we got to lose?

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg

Life is Pointless

 

Don’t you ever get the feeling that every step you take and every move you make is useless? Don’t you sometimes get the idea that you are surrounded by soulless and mean people? That you’ve been born against your will to live a humdrum life filled with rules and conventions that seem designed to make every second here on earth unbearable?

Going to school, working and earning money, gaining knowledge, building up a reputation, realizing your ambitions… It all means nothing. It’s just something that is there, until it is no more. We will all die, and nothing lasts forever. And even that doesn’t really matter.

You may take life seriously, you might think that whatever it is you are doing, is a reasonable thing to do, but if you think about it honestly, you will grasp how absurd it is. And this is true for anything you will do, for any belief you might have, for every emotion you experience, and for every thing you will ever long for.

Fortunately there is also a beneficial side to life being pointless. None of the bad things in the world matter either. When a landslide wipes out an entire village, when a school shooting kills twenty kids, when a terrorist attack kills and maims hundreds, when a ship hits an iceberg and a thousand people drown in the ice cold water, the pain is only temporary and the grief for loved ones, that were killed, dismembered or tortured, fades within the timespan of one generation.

All the tragedies that occur in the world are terrible when they happen, but soon afterwards they become part of something that we call ‘history’. History being just another word for ‘shit we try to rationalize because it is too damn awful to deal with’.

The fact that life has no real purpose or meaning, does not mean it is not worth living. The absence of reason does not imply that there is no value to existence. Certainly, life can be full of loneliness and pain, but once we recognize the absurdity of it all, an irrepressible love is able to grow in our hearts.

The bad things that happen to you are not some cosmic punishment on your person. They’re just a byproduct of being alive. If we manage to welcome the madness of life, and react more intuitively to everything that happens, our life will be more satisfying.

Celebrate the enjoyable things in life. Appreciate the people that have the character and honorable intentions to keep their promises. Look for the humor in your misfortune. Let love rule. And, above all, try to take things less seriously. If you are always on your guard, life will pass you by, and you will not have lived life to the fullest.

Contradictory to what I might have said here before, your subjective experience of the world (which is, of course, your true experience of the world) is constructed out of your everyday thoughts. When you have unpleasant thoughts, you will probably experience an unpleasant world. Likewise, a person who has kindhearted thoughts, will most likely experience a kinder world, etc. This has nothing to do with ignoring or avoiding reality. It’s just that we can easily change the way we look at things, and by doing so, the things we perceive will change.

Just think of all the beauty that is still out there, and try to appreciate it for what it does to you. Try to be thankful that you are doing fine, that you have a roof over your head, that you can sit in the sun and drink a glass of cava. Being thankful is inspiring. It makes you feel more conscious, more sensitive and more happy.

To feel close to someone. To love and be loved. To be together with people that you love. These are the things that make life worth living. Automatically love will generate happiness, and that happiness will generate a lust for life, even though this life remains completely pointless.

I guess life will always be a mystery to us, but love is the answer, nonetheless. Love will make us feel free and connected at the same time. Love will allow us to be who we are. Love will strengthen our personality and make it grow. When we truly love, we feel powerful in our body and mind and we’ll thrive in an imperfect world. I hope you’ll join us, as it is deeply rewarding.

DLK

© 2017 – David Lee Kollberg