“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”, said George Bernard Shaw. However, overturned in the outside world, we have forgotten the inner world. Blinded by the desire to have more, we lose the most valuable. And the more value we lose, the more we surround ourselves with insignificance in a vain effort to make sure that everything is as it “should be”.
The terrible mistake of equating success with social status and material possessions, and even the more terrible mistake of believing that they’re synonymous with happiness, caused many people to look outside for what they should look for inside.
When the existential void knocks at their door, they try to cover the sound of its blows with external stimuli that end up provoking a state of semi-unconsciousness in which they lose themselves. They become automatons repeaters of the consumerist message of the system that, satisfied with the result, continues to feed that emptiness. In fact, “The system loves people who have nothing to say”, said the French rapper Koma.
It’s easier to control consumers than slaves
“The advertising industry is the one that is dedicated to the creation of consumers. This phenomenon has developed in the freest countries, Great Britain and the United States. And the reason is very clear. It became clear about a century ago, when this industry realized that it wouldn’t be easy to control a population with the use of force. They had gained too much freedom: unions, parliaments with parties for workers in many countries, the right to vote for women… Therefore, they had to find other means to control people”, wrote Noam Chomsky.
It’s easier to control consumers by manipulating their beliefs and attitudes than using force to keep slaves willing to feed the system with their time and effort. The result, however, doesn’t differ very much: in both cases life escapes you without living it, running after the goals that someone else decided in your place.
For that system, the ideal society is based on a dyad: you and the television, or maybe now, you and the Internet. In both platforms, they present to you what the ideal and successful life should be like, the kind of things you should have and the goals you should achieve. They constantly remind you how to spend your time and effort. Or what is the same, they encourage you to buy things that you don’t need and that you really don’t even want and that you will most likely end up throwing away.
Luckily, more and more people begun to question this system in which happiness is not guaranteed and success is an increasingly elusive ideal that shows itself empty inside. Being a system gear ensures you that things will flow, more or less, while everything is well greased, but at the slightest setback, you will be easily replaced and forgotten.
Inner peace as a new ideal of success
Inner peace, that state in which you feel in balance with yourself and with the world, in which nothing is missing or nothing’s left over, is supplanting the archaic conception of success, prompting us to live in a more relaxed but, above all, more connected way with our authentic needs and desires.
That inner peace is achieved, on the one hand, when we reconnect with our “ego” through a long path of unlearning that involves divesting ourselves of the expectations that weigh on us and, above all, of our own expectations about how we’re supposed we should think, feel or act.
On the other hand, inner peace implies making peace with the world. We cannot feel at peace if we are constantly criticizing or if we hold a grudge. That means developing a radical acceptance that frees us from those thoughts and feelings that disturb us.
The road to inner peace offers no guarantees, and is often too tortuous for lazy spirits, but it guarantees the most exciting journey of all: the reunion with yourself.