Our desires are growing but not just for greater quantities of things as in the past. What we are experiencing now is a shift in the quality of our desires. So what do people really want now instead of this endless consumption? A feeling of happiness that is less and less dependent on material things. We are transitioning to a more virtual realm where a feeling of lacking something and a feeling of what can fill us are up in the air nowadays. People are searching for pure feelings that are not dressed up in the form of some pretty object. They want to receive pleasure according to this new lacking arising in them.
The problem is that the moment we get some object we enjoy it for a few minutes and then it is replaced with another feeling of something lacking. We enjoy a new car for a couple of weeks and then feel empty all over again and need to search for something else that will fill us. So what we truly want is a new type of pleasure that can provide us with a long-term feeling of satisfaction.
We no longer want to receive pleasure as simple beings that just want to fill themselves with the basics. We want to fill the ever growing lacking we feel inside with something much greater. The advertising industry keeps pulling us down and confusing us by promoting these lower pleasures but we no longer want to remain at that level. The lacking inside is growing all the time and is less affected by advertising with each passing day. So if in the past we invested 10% of the product in advertising, or 20% – 30%, today we invest 60% in advertising and still don’t see desired results.
So how will we make people happy in the future in a constant manner? That’s the whole secret. How we sell people something so they will be happy all the time, where they receive filling over and over again without ever feeling empty. That’s the new trick advertising executives need to learn. They need to figure out how our receiving something will not extinguish the feeling of lacking inside a few moments later but rather increase it all the time – so that the more we taste the more we will want. This method provides us with a feeling of eternal life where we don’t feel like we are going down at all but rather rising all the time.
What kind of new economy will fuel this entire process? Not all the usual things we have filled ourselves with until now. From this point onward a person can only truly receive pleasure by contributing to someone else receiving pleasure, just like a mother receives pleasure from giving to her child. Of course we all need to receive basic necessities but that is not what we are dealing with. We are talking about the lackings people have beyond the 2000 calories we put in our body every day. That is where we feel unhappy.
The real definition of economy is to provide for, to fill people. Meaning not to fill our pockets but what we are truly lacking. This new lacking we all feel to a certain extent can only be filled by Altruistic Economics or the Economics of Happiness. Just as a mother receives so much pleasure from filling those close to her, the same goes for all of us. Imagine how our world will look when humanity becomes a single system where every person is concerned with how they will contribute to society. When people everywhere think about society as a mother treats her baby. Then everyone can receive pleasure without any limitation whatsoever.
The new industry will be The Happiness Industry. By providing a new layer of marketing and advertising people will understand the need to create a new general lacking between people which will be filled by pleasing one another. When we are concerned with one another and convey this feeling outward then we will fill everyone in society and each person will feel fulfilled from filling others. This is the key to our happiness.
The big secret that advertising executives do not get yet is that the lacking and filling must be in two separate places for people to feel genuine happiness. Just like the mother is the one that fills the baby, who is the one receiving the pleasure. They are two separate entities. So the big lesson is that if we just keep filling ourselves we will never be happy.
The filling will come from this higher desire inside each of us, which will receive filling at a higher level from this new common feeling of brotherly love in society.
Robert Skidelsky is a historian best known for his definitive three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes; his son Edward Skidelsky is a philosopher. They have collaborated on a book arguing that people in wealthy countries like Britain and the United States work too hard and by doing so miss out on the “good life” — an ethical concept of a life as “worthy of desire, not just one that is widely desired.” In the first part of this three-part interview, INET Executive Director Robert Johnson talks with Robert Skidelsky and his son Edward Skidelsky about their book, How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life.
The Skidelskys suggest that society “not make a fetish, and certainly not a God, of just increasing GDP.” They view the traditional economic vision of ever more growth bringing about a kind of “heaven on earth” or state of abundance as both unrealistic and harmful, as positional goods mean that there will never be “enough” by the traditional definition. In their work, they instead drew upon and compared diverse philosophical and religious traditions to come up with a common set of values and goals for “the good life.” While these traditions diverge significantly, the Skidelsky’s were able to distill seven basic goods that they tended to hold in common: health, security, personality, friendship, leisure, harmony with nature, and respect — and they suggest these, not simply growth, should be the goals of economic life.
The new economy will be built according to the new desire that is awakening in people and ultimately the current green currency will be replaced with a pink currency of happiness based on eternal pleasures that never run out.