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The Counter-Productivity of Endless Desire -- How To Break Free

Updated: Mar 7

A robitic being.

"Capitalism: A corrupt system you literally buy into, and forever are subjugated by, from youth to death, sad." - John Duran


The Destructive Lure of Endless Acquisition

The allure of "Gotta catch 'em all!" - it's a phrase synonymous with childhood wonder, the thrill of chasing our passions, and the satisfaction of momentary achievement. But when applied to the adult world, this once-innocent mantra can morph into a toxic mindset of financial materialism, driving us towards relentless pursuits often at the expense of our well-being and the planet.

A life fueled by "Gotta catch 'em all" resembles a never-ending Pokémon game. Mass industries act as the cunning trainers, constantly breeding new desires, new "gotta-have-it"s, keeping us hooked on the cycle of consumption. We chase the latest gadgets, the trendiest clothes, the most exotic vacations, all in a desperate attempt to fill the void left by the insatiable "gotta catch 'em all" mentality.

The consequences are dire. This relentless pursuit of "more" leads to:

  • Crushing feelings of insufficiency: As the goal of "enough" is constantly shifting, we're left feeling like we'll never succeed (whatever it may mean), leading to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

  • Environmental devastation: Our insatiable appetite for "more" fuels unsustainable production and consumption, wreaking havoc on the planet's resources and ecosystems with the use of post-industrial-revolution technology.

  • Deterioration of human connection: The "gotta catch 'em all" mindset pits us against each other in a never-ending competition, hindering meaningful relationships and genuine connection in a world defined by merit and survival as related to one another.

Breaking free from the gotta-catch-all trap:

  • Practice gratitude: Shift your focus from what you lack to what you already have. Cultivate an appreciation for the simple joys in life, the people who matter most, and the experiences that truly enrich your soul. Consider looking at the world, from time to time, using the perspective of a cat, who doesn't need much.

  • Define your own "enough": What truly brings you fulfillment? What kind of life do you want to live? Reconnect with your values and let them guide your choices. You might be surprised to know that you have an indirect control over your own satisfaction. To quote the author Eckhart Tolle: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but the thoughts about it, Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking”

  • Embrace minimalism/asceticism: Less can truly be more in value once you begin being mindful of it enough. Declutter your physical and mental space, prioritize experiences over possessions, and learn to find joy in the present moment, not in the endless pursuit of "more." Unlike myself, many of you mind being unhappy (or feeling emotions in general).

Let go of the gotta-catch-all mentality and rediscover the joy of living a life that is truly your own. And that is only possible once you discover who you are, more.

Trapped in an Endless Chase -- How to Break Free

Imagine a never-ending race, where the finish line stretches ever further with each step you take. That's the hamster wheel of desires we're trapped in. But the cruel reality is, there's no "all" to catch. The more we acquire, the more desires industries conjure up, keeping us regularly unsatisfied.

The equation is simple:

  • Contentment = less spending

  • More desires = more purchases

  • More purchases = bigger profits

There's a dirty little secret lurking beneath the shiny world of consumerism: industries thrive on our dissatisfaction. They know that true happiness, the kind that comes from subjective contentment, is a dangerous enemy to their profits. So, they play a game with our desire to consume, endlessly making up new desires to keep us chasing that elusive rainbow of fulfillment. Doing so is their ulterior motive.

Think about it. The tobacco industry wouldn't stay afloat if every smoker found lasting satisfaction in their first cigarette. Pornography empires wouldn't crumble if viewers preferred genuine intimacy and connection over sexual addiction. And the sugar giants? They'd be left with mountains of unsold candy if people understood the long-term risks of sugar.

So, how do they keep us hooked? They weave a seductive web of advertising, social media, and influencer culture, promising excitement, validation, and belonging – all readily available, just a click or swipe away. They fuel our insecurities, prey on our vulnerabilities, and constantly remind us of what we lack, all while cleverly disguising their manipulative tactics as harmless entertainment or helpful advice. In reality, they do so to increase profit.

This insidious cycle thrives on the misconception that fulfilling every desire leads to happiness. But like a dog chasing a bone that will never be his, each conquest simply breeds new cravings, in a cycle of endless desire. We're not actually expected to be fully content, because people who are fully content with themselves and what they have, might not resume remaining loyal customers.

Our media-fueled world bombards us with images of "perfect" lives, crafted precisely to demographic and other relevent aspects of statistics, in order to optimize brand recognition and loyalty.

On the other hand, a possible state that lacks of desire paints us as lesser, somehow incomplete, even though there is no greater state of completion other than being completely fulfilled. The unspoken pressures fuel the fire of endless acquisition, turning us into unwitting gladiators in an unnecessary race towards pleasing both ourselves and others.

Since the academy may be like that as well, I've no regrets dropping out of it, as I can be a competent philosopher without the need to be advertised that I need a degree (as that is a fallacy).

The key to escaping this self-perpetuating cycle lies in embracing contentment. This doesn't mean renouncing all desires, but rather devaluing their hold on our happiness. We can learn to distinguish between needs and desires, prioritizing experiences over possessions and cultivating gratitude for what we already have.

This shift in perspective isn't just good for our well-being; it's also a revolution against the system that thrives on our dissatisfaction. When we choose contentment on a wider, collective scale, we disrupt the flow of consumerism, forcing industries to adapt or perish. By rejecting the false promise of happiness through acquisition, we pave the way for a future where fulfillment isn't measured by our possessions, but by the richness of our experiences and the depth of our connections.

In the long run, contentment can be the most powerful act of self-love and the most effective weapon against fruitless, never ending desires that still leave internal voids within us. Remember, true happiness isn't found in endless acquisition, but in the being capable of gratitude, solace, and deep satisfaction of living a life true to our values, hopes and dreams.

Let's reclaim our lives from the clutches of manufactured desires, and build a world where fulfillment isn't a prize for the victors, but a right enjoyed by all.

Call to Action

  • Challenge your desires: Ask yourself – is this something I truly need, or am I being influenced by external pressures?

  • Practice gratitude: Take time each day to appreciate the good things in your life, big and small.

  • Connect with others: Build meaningful relationships based on shared values, not material possessions. The satisfaction extracted from them can outshine many products, and these connections can last for a lifetime, if the right people are found.

Remember, breaking free from the cycle of desire is a gradual journey, not a permanent destination. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your small victories, and know that every step towards contentment is a step towards a happier, more fulfilling life.

And never fall into the belief that you will be happy once you'll purchase a specific product.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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