What really motivates us? Is it a desire for something that draws us, pulls us and attracts us. We strive towards something. But….fear also motivates us. Fear is the jail house conversion, the prostrate barter made with your Maker. Our anatomy is literally hardwired for fear. There is no mystery as to why fear has such an elaborate mechanism. The human race, as a species, has had a long time to evolve; we’ve had a long, treacherous evolutionary process. It is only within the last few hundred (thousand) years that humans side-stepped out of the food chain and stopped being some other carnivore’s Snack Pak pudding. Among the large beasts of prey, we no longer have a predator. Our species now falls to either infections or chronic illnesses. We are killed off by the invisible microorganism or by the insidious development of pathology caused by our lifestyle choices (usually). Although, some of us die due to pure trauma and accidents.
But what I am getting at is that we are far more equipped and adjusted to FEAR than happiness. The idea of true happiness, a prolonged and sustained sense of joy is a fresh. Happiness has evolutionarily been relegated to simple, sensual pleasures. Brief pleasures: a drink of cool water from a trickling stream, stretching when you wake from sleep, scratching a good itchy spot, sex (for the purpose of copulation)…..brief snippets of lovely.
Fear, on the other hand can be sustained, held like a Pavarotti high C. It is how we flee a predator, deal with the getting a full frontal hit by a hurricane, walk through New York City as the The World Trade Center crumbles. I think there are some predators we never stop trying to flee.
But joy cannot be perpetually maintain or sustain. I wonder if, evolutionarily, we COULD develop an anatomical equivalent to the fight & flight & flee system that is managed by adrenaline. The human skeleton and its muscles and nerves are designed in a manner to specifically trigger the physical response REQUIRED to survive threat. Get scared and you feel your heart rate accelerate, your breathing gets deeper, the pupils dilate, the capillaries in the skin contract, blood flow to the gut slows reserving the blood for the muscles, heart, lung and brain. When the fear passes the system reverses: we break out in a cold sweat, get the shakes, hyperventilate, vomit, faint or wet ourselves. The B side of fear is not JOY it is RELIEF, phew and we exclaim, “That was close!”
Is it that joy is a relatively new evolutionary presence? That to develop BLISS we have to allow for more exposure to joy? We have to let happiness influence our species like any other force of nature? If we can realize that FEAR is less of a force in our worlds…..and even though we are BUILT to adapt and deal with it…..we can stop REACTING to every spider, sidewalk crack or sneeze. We can stop LOOKING for the lurking predator and instead cultivate joyfulness. And by being happier, living more joyfully and conditioning ourselves to pleasantry, we can find Bliss.
We aren’t going to forget how to be afraid. Not possible. We’d hard wired for it. It is subconscious. We can be conditioned to not be afraid of spiders, though. Or the dentist. Or flying in airplanes. But the deconditioning of some of our fears won’t result in us lacking a response when someone bombs us or a hurricane barrels over us. And while some will get paralyzed, stuck like deer in headlights, most of us will RUN!
But….we have to learn when we can STOP running. We have to permit pleasure and enjoyment be a greater part of our existence. Instead of leap frogging from one stress stone to the next, utilizing adrenaline as a fuel, I want to stroll between sweet spots and bathe myself in things that give me joy, contentment and amusement. The difference is that fear is BEHIND us, nipping at our heels, propelling us forward. We are motivated by a desire to avoid and escape. Bliss motivates us by the laws of attraction. We desire something ahead of us, something we don’t yet have but want. I want to reach for the happiness ahead of me, eager and enthusiastic. Satisfied and excited.
These are a few of the things that motivate me, my bliss.