“You make a life out of what you have, not what you’re missing.”

~ Ruby in The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

This simple comment from Kate Morton’s novel, The Forgotten Garden, could be a reflection in itself.

Much of consumer-culture is oriented to just the opposite, with sophisticated neuro-marketing and neuro-psychology-informed strategies to (among other things) encourage buying more as the solution to “what you’re missing.”

The Rat Race, from fbcdn-sphotos via Leave the Rat Race (find it on Facebook)

The very same neuro-psychology / neuro-marketing strategies are premised onhitting the fear button‘ to activate our dear Lizard Brain, stimulate insecurity and deeply rooted (like ancient, as well as more recent than that) fears, and then, whilst in Lizard Brain mode, purchase the promised miracle pill or product or fancy retreat or clothing — the list is long — that’ll make you feel good again.

Only it doesn’t. That kind of ‘not really satisfaction’ mist wears off quickly.

And we’re all eyeball-deep in it.

Being aware of the strategies helps, if only to be conscious of just how certain phrases, colors, words, and other cleverly designed seductions tweak that Lizard Brain ‘fear button’ and clamp down on our higher thinking (and more) capacities. The strategies work … you’ll see them in play just about everywhere.

So Ruby’s comment — “You make a life out of what you have, not out of what you’re missing” — is more profound than it might first seem.

Source: “Paranoid Advertising,” Politusic.

It’s what the afore-mentioned consumer-culture does: stimulate a near-constant focus on what’s missing (rather than what’s already there and might be helpfully augmented), thus creating a condition of chronic discontent and perpetual consumption.

It’s not that we don’t need certain things. And there are times when various products or services really help, or go beyond bare necessities to add to the quality of one’s life.

Some discontent can stir creativity, and nudge (or boot) us out of unhealthy, overly staid, suffocating status quo boxes.

Chronic discontent, though, is toxic, a sickness, particularly when the perpetual discontent (hence the ‘chronic’) frenzy, and getting, then discarding, then moving on to the next cultural-hypnosis-induced acquisition, do nothing to fill the hole, and only add to stress, depression, isolation, and/or anxiety.

“You make a life out of what you have, not out of what you’re missing.”

The Unthinkable, by Roberto Matta (11/11/1911 – 11/23/ 2002)

Decolonizing and reclaiming our own minds and imagination, given the potency of the machine designed to grab and fill them, is surely a process.

Gratitude practices, appreciation practices, present-moment-awareness practice, mindfulness, discernment, increasing awareness of neuro-marketing, unplugging from the mind and imagination fillers once in awhile, gathering back our focus, attention, and energy … re-empowering.

These are among just a few of the ways we begin to reclaim our capacity for presence, discernment, and choosing based on what’s truly — truly — important to us, and what will really support us in meeting related heart yearnings and related intentions and goals.

Festoon of Fruit and Flowers, by Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-1684)

What has reallasting value to us. What actually fosters that rather than the chronic, never-resolved discontent.

Then there might be a greater likelihood that we’ll know that the novelty of pretty, shiny things will likely wear off, and quickly; that there are no ‘quick pills’ — sometimes we have to have a bit of those old-fashioned values like tenacity, persistence, perseverance; and that’s okay, because we’re rooted in what’s actually important.

“You make a life out of what you have, not out of what you’re missing.”

We likely have a lot more than we think, if we do think about it.

Thanks for the reminder, Ruby. 😉

Big Love,


Related blog post: Is New-Age Greed Subverting Spirituality?

Featured Image: The Worship of Mammon, 1909, by Evelyn Pickering De Morgan. {PD-US}