I would like to write to you today about a topic that has been presenting itself somewhat frequently in the treatment room in the form of repeated cases of individuals who have been either consciously or unconsciously seeking a Life of Luxury.
What I refer to here are individuals who believe that the highest goal in life is to have a life that is free of challenges and problems, and where all personal needs are immediately and fully gratified. Furthermore, many of these folks believe they should have this life now, without having to do anything to achieve it or pay any dues to get it.
Now, I will not go so far as to target any particular generation on this, but I do have to say that this dynamic seems to be becoming more common in recent times, and I have some ideas about its etiology.
Consider some of the details of modern life in an industrialized and technological society. There is a machine to wake us up, one that brews our coffee, one that gives us our news and entertainment, one that takes us places, and on and on. Going one step further, we now see that these individual machines are being combined so that one can do the work of several (i.e., cell phones with multiple apps, cars with computers, et al.). One could envision that future humans might need never leave a cubicle where the walls will be media screens, and controls will be biologically interfaced.
Some might question why this is not being accepted openly by all as the next evolutionary jump for humans? Isn’t all of this new technology making life easier for us?
And with these questions, we have our answers.
Nearly everything in modern society seems to be gearing itself towards the immediate fulfillment of human desire. Need something to eat, we have it fast. Want to hear a particular song? Speak to Alexa or Siri and it is played. Need a fact? “Google it.” Need to alter your brain chemistry? View some porn or play a violent video game.
Modern life has become the pursuit of a Life of Luxury, and if you are lucky you just might be discovered, win the lottery, or find a modern Guru who can guide you through the process.
We are fast becoming a society of addicts. The drug: instant gratification. The means: You name it!
Here is the sobering paradox: Getting everything we want makes us absolutely miserable! The insatiable nature of carnal desire means that there is never enough. Dial-up internet was once fast, but now cable is not even enough. The BMW was nice, but now I want the Bentley. Alcohol was a good start, but now I need some Oxy to get the same effect. The cycle goes on and on.
Friends, trust me when I tell you that it would NOT be a good thing if a Genie granted you three wishes, and having everything at your fingertips is NOT making life better. In fact, these trends are actually highly destructive to the human mind and soul, and they will eventually spell disaster for our collective society.
That said, let’s focus for a moment on what a Life of Luxury does to the individual:
First, when everything comes easy, the individual becomes complacent and isolates. Each day becomes a repeated cycle of craving and satiating as the amount needed for satiation remains ever elusive.
Second, this lifestyle causes one to lose focus of the fact that life is a challenge, a training ground of sorts, and that occasional suffering is part and parcel of character development. We thrive when we strive.
Third, having everything at one’s fingertips turns her or him into a spoiled brat who enters into a delusion of grandeur that leads them to believe they are actually entitled to a Life of Luxury.
Folks, these are the reasons why we have so many 20 and 30-year-olds living at home eating their parent’s food, utilizing their parent’s Wi-Fi, with a cell phone the parents are paying for, in a heated or air-conditioned space (paid for by parents), and a few bong-hits every few hours (that the parents tolerate) between levels of a video game (that the parents gifted at Christmas)!
Okay, the post is getting a bit long (and intense) :-), so I need to “cut the chase” to a discussion of some solutions:
First, we can learn to embrace life as a challenge, and occasional suffering as essential to our continued growth and understanding. We must rise out of the delusion of the material world and the deceptions of the physical body and remember that there are higher meanings and purposes to this training ground we inhabit.
Second, we can realize that we are not doing anyone a favor if we enable her or him to live a Life of Luxury. It is not an act of love to allow someone to deteriorate into a state of “spoiled rottenness” and loss of autonomy and self-sufficiency.
So, it is time to put down the gadgets and turn off the television and begin to use them wisely rather than allowing ourselves to be used by them. It is also time for Sally and Johnny to grow up and face the challenges and hardships life offers. Some are in need of a serious “wake-up call” to the realities of survival and self-sufficiency. If you truly love them, stop being their personal assistant and victim, serve them with a 3-month eviction notice, and work with them towards a plan to move forward in pursuit of their lives.
May we each work to find the balance that is crucial in managing the current technological and sociological trends as we are careful to not lose sight of certain traditional values that remain salient to our success. May we have the courage to resist the lure of the media and the modern Gurus who tell us we can have everything we want, and accept that it is enough to have what we need, including those challenges and hardships that will develop a strong mind and an evolved Soul within us.
Dr. Mik Ludwig