Changing Perspectives

By: Ken Streater | Spirituality | Blog
           

One thousand years ago the pace of life was slower and the amenities fewer. But, we had then
virtually the same innate forces we have today, in the form of hormones and autonomic nerves
that trigger behaviors. We knew then virtually nothing of the physiologic “how and why” of
those actions compared to the vast understanding we have today. We simply know more about
us now than we did ten or one thousand centuries ago. I don’t begin to suggest that we know
it all; I am fully confident we will learn exponentially more in the next generations about what
motivates, inspires, maddens, saddens, scares, and gladdens us, on metaphysical and physical
levels. And, for each one of us to live a whole hearted life today, tomorrow matters very, very
little.

Today, our awareness of how we function is counterbalanced by ancient catalysts. Our
heightened mindfulness is offset by impulses that long ago formed our thoughtlessness
(consider always thinking versus just being in the moment). Our senses are bombarded with
inane trivia and marketing ploys (except for American Idol; I love that show and refuse to
believe it is anything other than reality tv!) that create desire well beyond the scope of those
quietly purposeful needs set long ago.

These needs, when stripped to the core, are to be accepted, acknowledged, appreciated, and
awed. These four drivers genetically insured our survival as they helped us form tight bonds
with others, gave meaning to social order, created loving relationships, enabled wonder, and
established purpose in life.
 
From caveman clans to cosmopolitan conglomerations, we each want to be accepted. The
need to belong to a group genetically fires us today as if our very survival depended on working
together to hunt, gather, defend, and nurture.

We need to be acknowledged, in order to know that we contribute to the group. This allows
us to regard ourselves as meaningful to a community, to fit in. Way back when, any true
individual who lived without a group would have died in short order. Despite attempts to truly
venture out on our own today we cannot deny the power of the distant past in our attempts at
“individuality.” While doing your own thing is vitally important and makes the world beautifully
spin, the paradox is that individuality is measured in relation to others, which then forms a
group of comparers and comparisons! To survive and grow we must work in groups, which
means we must acknowledge others and be acknowledged.

Whether the high plains animal hunters of 100,000 years ago or the high rise human head
hunters of the new millennium, we long to be appreciated. This is a derivative of compassion
that we give and get, once needed to produce and protect the strongest of our group, to assure
sustenance in that moment, and over time the survival of the fittest. We cannot escape the
need to be appreciated and loved. It is what guarantees powerful lineage.
From the dawn of civilization to sunrise this morning, we need to be awed. Awe connects us
in the collective amazement of something bigger than you and me. Awe reminds us of the
unexplainable and in this illuminates the grandness of life, the need to know more than we
know, and the value of exploring beyond our comfort. Awe awakens marvel at the infinite and
at our unique individual capacity. It is what spurs growth.

The idea that any single one—or all four—of these don’t matter to you today is in direct
competition with your primordial genetic code. And, how we respond to and respect these
drivers can determine a life in the pursuit of madness or magnificence. Unlike generations
far removed who depended on these innate motivators simply to live and mate, our actions
for and reactions to these four needs are an extension of perspective. We have the ability to
think, wonder about, and question the degree to which we honor the drive to be accepted,
acknowledged, appreciated, and awed. I can change my perspectives on these and so can you.
The fundamental question in today’s world of yin and yang consciousness and unconsciousness,
want or need, too much time versus not enough time, and questionable pursuits over
meaningful purpose, the question that should shape our perspective and help each one of us
decide what is best for us individually and as a whole is, “What really matters?”
 
What really matters? Compassion over competition, happiness over horror, giving over getting,
and love over languish.