THE GREAT FOOD CHAIN ILLUSION
I think we human beings, maybe because of our self-consciousness, all suffer from and help perpetuate a very fundamental, unproductive illusion. This disabling illusion is that we are convinced we are part of a food chain hierarchy, thinking we are at the top. Now this simple illusion alienates us from the rest of the universe and from each other too, because even the top of the food chain has a hierarchy within itself.
The very top of this illusory food chain is reserved for the best-looking, richest, and most intelligent, ambitious, successful, motivated, conscientious, diligent, optimistic and competent winners, with the bottom made up of the homeliest, poorest and most mindless, un-ambitious, unsuccessful, demotivated, reckless, lazy, pessimistic and incompetent losers. Fortunately most of us are somewhere in between the top and bottom.
The difficulty with this food chain idea is the perspective from which it is viewed—from one person comparing him or herself, or another person, to another part of the food chain, from his or her own limited viewpoint. That is a lot of objective reality left out of a subjective lens to look through. And unfortunately this perspective results in an avid interest in differences between people and the subsequent competitive drive that occurs to deal with those differences. The paper chase begins to keep up with the Jone's.
Success in life requires cooperative teamwork which strives to identify and follow a common cognitive consensus (agreement of truth and true success strategies) to get to the finish line. Focusing of competing against the differences in the rest of the food chain illusion wastes much valuable time loitering instead of doing something positive about how we feel inside—incomplete, unsatisfied and unfulfilled.
I secretly think psychology has perpetrated a harmful fraud on the rest of us with false information about what drives this food chain. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not primarily driven to make choices based on preferences that we expect will lead to enjoyment and pleasure. How do I know this? Because I stopped one day and asked my brain what I really wanted. What I really want is the satisfaction of knowing for sure that I have done something good with what I had to work with, as opposed to thinking I was doing better or worse than someone else.
This more substantial intrinsic satisfaction is without artificial comparative judgment as to being either positive or negative, good or bad, pleasurable or painful or any other dichotomy we invented when we spit the world in half to over-magnify similarities and differences. This is where the facts interfere with the truth. The food chain illusion is validated by all sorts of reasonable and tempting facts. But the real truth behind all these alluring facts is that it is an illusion and we eventually discover our ladder has been placed up against the wrong building.
At this point in my life I am making a conscious choice to dare to be the one goose out of formation from the rest of the flock which I believe is off course, and ready to embrace all and anything that choice results in. Of course I would enjoy company because I think exposing this illusion can help make the world a much better place in which more of us can prosper. After all, the truth is the only thing that can set us free.
What do we all really want more than anything? I think it is feeling the freedom and peace of mind that can only come from making an effort to listen to and develop the great potential within ourselves and making a contribution by living it. Notice that this is something each of us can do without any reference to a food chain, or its school equivalent, the infamous "Bell Curve." We don't need the food chain illusion. Join me in exposing and deleting it from our vocabulary. Then the next word that has to go is "bottom-line" because there is no such thing either.
The key to being authentically happy and genuinely successful lies in creativity. Ironically a creative mind creates illusions (out of boredom?) but it takes even more daring creativity to expose these illusions by asking the question, "Is this really true? Just because somebody once imagined it to be so and gathered lots of proof, doesn't necessarily make it so. What "no's" are you coming up with lately?
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security, Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Writer and Photographer from Issaquah, WA. He is author of Passwords to the Prosperity Zone, "P" Point Management: Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, and The Bow-Wow Secrets: How Dogs Live a Simple Life & people Don't. Bill can be reached with comments and questions at (425) 454-5011 or firstname.lastname@example.org