There is a game to find out what is most important to you. It asks you to write down how you would spend the money if you should win in a lottery. So you write down the percentages for a house, new car, insurance and whatever comes in your mind. These things, at first glance, seem to be really important, yes. But the are only one side of the coin, the one you can buy with money.
Material and immaterial values
There are many important things in life – and I dare say even more important than those you find out with the game. I mean those things which you cannot buy with money: connection, love, confidence, trust, belonging and the feeling of being ok, as a person and with your life altogether.
We know it perfectly well – and we still strive for money and public recognition. We have seen so many times that super rich people and famous movie stars die from overdose or suicide. We know that our happiness doesn’t derive from these external factors, but we continue to make ourselves miserable by believing what others say or – worse – what our inner critic continuously whispers into our ear.
We don’t know ourselves – so how can we improve ourselves?
We oscillate between hope and activity on one side and depression and fear on the other side. We haven’t learned to navigate our own operating system, so to speak. We seem to be the helpless victims of our own humanness. We try to improve ourselves, continuously. The market for self-improvement is gigantic. But how can we improve something if we have no idea how it works? It is like wanting to create pears while polishing an apple. we have no idea how our inner mechanisms are, how we attribute value to something and why, why we do certain things and others not. Our analytic mind has little to say about it, more hypothesis than real insights. And so all attempts of improvement start from an unexplored territory.
What does it mean to be a human being?
Isn’t it time to understand how humans work? What does it mean to be a human being? What are the underlying axioms of our existence? Spiritual inquiry has found out quite a bit about humans and their emotions, especially the fear and they teach a way to inner calmness. Psychology has found out a lot about trauma and mental illness and the functioning of the psyche. But both approaches see humans as single units while, in fact, they are social beings first of all. They are dependent on others, in their own development, in their self-image, in their work – everywhere.
It is time to find out what we already know – and then behave and act from this knowledge.
I want to share with you the first lecture of a University course by Dr.Jordan Peterson called “Maps of Meaning”. Listening to him I had an epiphany similar to the one about 20 years ago when I came across Ken Wilber and Integral Theory. In both cases, it was as if the lights went on. I recognized their thoughts as true – and I realized that, somehow, I had thought in similar ways but wasn’t able to put it into words. Both these brilliant minds have the gift to put into words what is the unseen truth in our lives – and they allow us to embrace these words as the expression of our own life experience.
Also published on Medium.