To sell you something, an astute marketer will always make you feel as if you are missing out.
You are not as slim as others, you are not as happy as others, you are not as cool as others, you are not as beautiful as others, you are not intelligent as others, you are not as respected as others.
But, you could be, if…
It’s what I call “the party syndrome”.
There’s this persistent lingering feeling that somewhere there’s a party going on, a party where everyone is enjoying themselves and having a great life.
And you are missing out.
This syndrome penetrates the psyche, sneaking past our conscious mind and manifesting itself in trivial desperate moments of “it’s so unfair!”:
“Why does everyone else always seem to get…”
“Why does this happen to me and no one else…”
“All I want is [insert grumble here], yet other people seem to have…”
We develop this feeling of being on the outside; never knowing the happiness and joy to be found at this exclusive “life party”.
Even the most confident, seemingly accomplished people are not immune to the “party syndrome”. It is what drives the grasping mind into regular states of stress and lack of contentment.
But marketers aren’t wholly responsible though. They just tap into this preexisting condition passed onto us by our consumer-driven, commodity-driven “success at all costs” society; albeit in a very manipulative way that benefits them, however.
They play on the metaphoric notion that others are enjoying something that we aren’t, something that can take us to the next level – to be an exclusive member of a newer, better club. This creates a childlike hunger and desire to NOT be the one left outside looking in at all the other children enjoying the spoils.
The “party syndrome” is used to sell us everything from phones to pillows. I mean, why aren’t you enjoying this superb new phone that makes it even more thrilling than the last to send emails, post tweets and watch cute videos of cats on Facebook. OMG, like, your phone doesn’t even have one of these new radiation-proof covers! And your pillows. How can you even sleep at night without these ergonomic pillows containing Himalayan rock particles that release stress from your neurons as you sleep!?
The party isn’t just about products and my silly exaggerations, though: it spans and infects relationships, self-esteem and spiritual self-actualisation.
Of course, deep down inside we know that this metaphorical party doesn’t exist. If we step back and take leave of the chaos for a while, we see that it is in our heads, that no amount of time spent striving to have everything that purports to bring with it happiness will ever bring any sort of self-liberation.
Yet we quickly return to the noise, toyed with by the monkey mind and romanced by our inquisitive nature until we reach a new height, where we are quickly dropped back down to the bottom of the ladder again – and so the process restarts. The stark reality is that every invite to the party turns into a disappointment. The date is always rescheduled pending a new condition for us to achieve.
Every time the party seems within reach, every time we think we might get to feel what others feel, every time we make it to the next post, a new condition is thrust upon us.
Well, now you need to do x, y and z, and then…
And so continues the external projecting: the striving, the grasping, the judging and pitting oneself mentally against the happiness and wealth of others.
At some point along this spiralling pathway of mental suffering, we all reach a boiling point as the persistent sense of underachievement (no matter how much we achieve) and an insatiable desire to win and acquire at all costs (no matter how many times we win or how many wonderful material things we acquire) continues to disappoint us and fails to deliver on its promises.
This boiling point usually has one of two pathways to follow: the first, a spiritual enlightenment of sorts that brings with it clarity and inner peace, as we realise we need to turn the search inwards, or, an anger and frustration that causes us to delve deeper into the matrix. The later is a pathway that leads to broken relationships, loneliness and emptiness.
You see, eventually, after so many times of arriving at the door of the party, only to find the house empty, do we realise that we are victims of a cruel hoax.
So what’s the point, Alfred?
In a nutshell, don’t keep chasing invites that lure you towards a make-believe heaven where happiness resides. No external condition will bring you the sustainable, impenetrable harmony with life that your soul seeks.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” ~ Marcus Aurelius Antoninus