Xmas Special – Thoughts and Ideas on Consumerism, Relationships and Our Existential Paradigm

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and oddly enough I don’t feel so wonderful. I am sitting at an old desk made of raw wood inside a beautiful little cabin somewhere in West Austria. The snowflakes are shyly making their first appearance and the view out of the window can’t be characterized something less than trippy and majestic. Many would have paid thousands of dollars to experience this feeling, but luckily enough my girlfriend owns a place in this somewhat forgotten part of the world.


Earlier this morning I woke up with a strange feeling and some open-ended questions traveling through my head. Why am I failing to reconcile with this time of the year? Aren’t I supposed to let the Christmas spirit absorb me and get lost in a journey full of snowy tales, with the sound of Christmas carols accompanying me along the way?


Most of us have a really strong memory of Christmas. I remember mine was of a Christmas almost 23 years ago. I remember being under something. It was a table, I saw a table leg, I saw the legs of the people, and a portion of the tablecloth hanging down. It was dark under there, I liked being under there. It must have been in England. I must have been five years old. It was 1991.


I felt good under the table. Nobody seemed to notice that I was there. I could see the silhouettes of the people through the white tablecloth. I liked looking at their silhouettes. The people themselves were not that interesting, not like the tablecloth, not like the table leg, not like their silhouettes.


I remember the main feeling that commanded my presence that day could only be characterized by one but incredibly strong word – void. It was a feeling of emptiness that I couldn’t really understand where was coming from. Being five years old doesn’t really work to your advantage when you try to figure out the world.


Almost 23 years later this feeling is still there. But probably not for the same reasons. Back then, I was feeling a bit isolated and lonely because of my childhood insecurities. Today this loneliness is replaced by a different kind of loneliness. I like to call it the loneliness of the mind. It is the kind of loneliness that stems from years of trying to explore and comprehend this wondrous experience called life, but legendarily failing to do so. It’s a loneliness that everybody experiences and it somehow gets amplified during this time of the year. The irony. The time of the year where we are supposed to feel more intimate, more loving, more giving, more close to each other.


That’s probably the reason I decided to write this article. To find a way escape the loneliness of my mind. In the next paragraphs, you will find some scattered ideas and thoughts about topics that dominate our reality this time of the year. Topics like consumerism, relationships, intimacy and eventually a way to manifest our existence. Don’t worry if you get lost in the translation of these thoughts. After all, you can never really find yourself if you don’t get lost first.


Consumerism – Trying to Fill the Void


A recent story in my local newspaper dealt with a sad-case family. The son was in jail for drug dealing and his mother was trying desperately to find a way to give her son hope. The reporter of the story described the mother as a very empathetic and generous woman in her late 60s that was living in the same house she used to share with her son before he went to jail. She was devastated by the incident and was trying to find ways to make him feel better. She was particularly motivated to get back her son’s 2000 BMW and 2001 Dodge Viper that was confiscated after he went to jail. In her mind, that would give him some hope for the future.


The rest of the article tries to focus on how the mother is affected by the incident and also how other mothers experience and cope with such events in their lives. Yet, what attracted my interest was that this mother had strongly associated the cars with the idea of hope. An idea whose entirety cannot be concretely understood by many of us and consequently creates false associations in our minds and in the way we view consumerism in general.


Consumerism can be a devastating psychological addiction that saps our financial resources, well-being, and hope. In our attempt to fill a void that stems from a generally hopeless life, consumerism is a way for many to seek temporary fulfillment and joy. It is what experts like to call extrinsic motivation and it reaches its peak during Christmas season.


Extrinsically motivated people, focus on financial gain, their appearance, and social popularity. They generally seek acceptance by something or someone outside themselves.


The opposite of extrinsic motivation is intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is represented by self-acceptance, affiliation, and community feeling.


Intrinsically motivated people are driven by their own values and don’t feel the need to be accepted by some outside entity. Perhaps most importantly, it turns out that those who are the most extrinsically motivated, and stay that way for a long time, begin to lose touch with their authentic intrinsic motivations — the things in life that bring them the most joy. As they continually seek financial gain and recognition by others, in a seemingly continuous display of profligate consumption, they find that they have become addicted. Finding their way back to their true selves becomes an overwhelming task.


Further, they’re often not even aware that this vicious cycle is happening and continue to ramp-up their acquisitive lifestyle, constantly seeking that which will make them feel fulfilled. It just never seems to happen and they become depressed and often describe being “lost”.


During my never-ending journey towards a purposeful life defined by fulfillment and freedom, I have found myself in many different parts of the consumer spectrum. I have been a greedy consumer, I have been a conscious consumer and I have also been a tight consumer. In every single part of the spectrum, I can’t really remember experiencing feelings of extreme joy, fulfillment, or freedom. Yes, I might have thought for a small time period that I was the king of the world but this was so temporary that it didn’t really make sense to me.


When I realized that temporary joys are not really my thing I started looking for other sources of fulfillment. Sources that can make this filling more lasting and enduring. In this search, I stumbled upon ideas had a major impact on the way I viewed consumerism and spending in general. I became more conscious and more smart with my spending. I tried to shift my mentality from the one of a consumer to the one of an investor. And this eventually helped me internalize the true meaning and importance of money, the way same way it is stated in Tony Robbin’s last book:


”In the end, money isn’t what we’re after . . . is it? What we’re really after are the feelings, the emotions, we think money can create:

that feeling of empowerment,

of freedom,

of security,

of helping those we love and those in need,

of having a choice, and

of feeling alive.”


Being able to experience all these feelings, helped me undergo such a mentality shift that eventually created a concrete feeling of abundance in my life. And abundance is possibly the only notion that can be strongly associated with the idea of intrinsic motivation and the way this influences our lives and relationships.


The Relationship Paradox


Relationships. What a magical word. A word that is widely desired but also widely misunderstood. People like to think they have solved the relationship equation, but what became apparent to me lately is that the more we try to solve it the more we tend to approach a relationship paradox.


“The relationship paradox” is a term that does not exist in dictionaries. Nor has it been widely debated by relationship experts and other seemingly successful people in the field. It is a term that hasn’t really been mentioned in the blog apart from the “Intimacy and Eroticism” article, but it is an idea that has always been troubling me and I have always found it challenging to define it concretely and accurately. Nevertheless, I will give it a try.


I like to call “the relationship paradox” our inability to maintain a lasting feeling of abundance when it comes to our relationships. In a more simplistic way, I would describe it as our tendency to move away from a person when we come extremely close to them and also our tendency to want them closer when they take a distance from us.


That is, the closer we get to the other person, the more we are afraid that this feeling of abundance will be jeopardized. We take a step back, we find shelter in isolation, we feel abundant again only for a short time and then we crawl back like little beggars. And this leads to a vicious circle of mistrust and imbalance.


This paradox causes extreme levels of frustration among generations of men and women who, because of this conundrum, like to give a bleak meaning to the future of their relationships.


For me, however, the future is always a place of fun. Although I like to consider myself a person of presence, future is a place where this presence will eventually grow to something stronger, something grandiose, something challenging, something fresh and unique.


I used the word unique because uniqueness is a term that, for me, is strongly associated with “the relationship paradox” and is also probably the only term that can help us reach a possible solution to this unreasonable but existing madness.


Take a step back and look at the bigger picture for a moment. What do you see? You see your past, your presence, and your future. You see a person who was born alone and will eventually die alone. Alone in a rather unique reality that is defined by moments of shared uniqueness and feelings of abundance that are experienced only when this uniqueness is shared.


In our lives, we crave for intimacy. An intimacy that can never be achieved in its entirety if it is not accurately defined. Without defining what we really want, we will never be capable of achieving it.


Men and women, women and men find themselves constantly on a quest for this intimacy. A quest that is regularly assaulted by ideas like feminism, redpillism, patriarchy, misogyny, misandry, and other scandalous terms.


In the end the winner takes it all but it doesn’t take long for the winner to realize that his victory will turn into ashes in his mouth. And the only memory he will be left with is the memory of a person who won but this victory got him so far.


Whenever I try to define the term intimacy, I never like using the word game for its definition. Games are for kids and although sometimes they are important for brain stimulation purposes, extreme exposure to them will make you forget that you are not a kid anymore. The way I like to define intimacy is by using the word responsibility.


Responsibility towards myself and also towards the other person. Responsibility that I will give my best self for this intimacy to survive and flourish.


Men and women like to think that when they find themselves in a relationship, the other person owes them the world. Men and women need to understand that no one owes you anything. You are the one who owes everything to yourself. You owe to yourself the responsibility that comes with your uniqueness and how this uniqueness is reflected to the other person and eventually to the world. The only way for this uniqueness to find a place in intimacy is by being constantly aware of it and investing in it, in a way that can help it be identified, appreciated, respected and eventually shared in the form of intimacy.


Men and women need to stop looking for answers to unreasonable questions. Men need to stop asking:


  • How do I become better in bed?
  • How do I approach a girl?
  • How do I become rich?
  • How do I become more attractive?
  • How do I become less needy?
  • How do I get out of the friend zone?
  • How do I get her number?

Women need to stop asking:


  • Why does she get more likes than me?
  • Why is he ignoring me?
  • Do I look fat?
  • Why doesn’t he listen to me?
  • Why is he so stubborn?
  • Why is he checking out other girls?

Instead, both men and women need to focus more on questions like:


  • What did I do today that helped me grow?
  • What did I do today that helped me escape isolation?
  • Did I make anyone laugh?
  • Did I make anyone cry?
  • Did I give myself to someone?
  • Did I invest in myself the way I really need to?
  • Did I invest in my uniqueness?
  • Did I turn this uniqueness into intimacy?

When these answers become part of a person’s reality, even if they are partially answered, they can have a huge impact on the way the person’s perception works and also the way this person views its relationships and uniqueness.


Life-defining questions stem from life-defining moments and as I have stated in the past all these questions have arisen from numerous life defining moments I have experienced thus far. Fortunately, or unfortunately, not all of us get the chance to experience life-defining moments because not all of us are curious enough to pursue them.


My constant desire to answer all these questions has led me, however, to the most important question of all. How does one define our existential paradigm?


Our Existential Paradigm


While I was writing this article, I wasn’t really concerned about its structure and mental coherence. As I said in the beginning, these are all scattered ideas and thoughts that derive from the fact that I cannot accurately define the feeling of emptiness that surrounds us this time of the year.


In a somewhat bizarre fashion, however, through this chaotic thinking, I managed to connect some dots that led me to a very strange but also reasonable realization. Our existence is a combination of the two following ideas:


  1. The idea of brain stimulation.
  2. The idea of a constant struggle to defy our human nature.

Let me elaborate a bit. We usually like to think that we walk through life with a purpose. A purpose that is the moving power behind our actions and decisions. This purpose, however, is lost in a way because it has never been accurately defined and in most cases the ones who defined it weren’t really us.


We have been told from a young age that we need to study and work and have a family and all. But no one ever explained to us how and why. How and why are parameters of our existential paradigm that are so vaguely defined that can only contribute to a more vague idea of existence.


The two ideas mentioned above are not a means to an end. This was never my intention and it will never be. They derive from a lifetime of pursuing strong ideas and ideals and can only be characterized as a summary of what I have experienced in my pursuit so far.


Brain stimulation is the answer to the “how” parameter. Brain stimulation is whatever we experience and helps us increase the levels of the so-called “happy hormones” in our brain. Hormones like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline to name but a few. These hormones can cause extreme levels of brain stimulation, boost our happiness and eventually help us feel alive.


The essentiality of brain stimulation and its importance in our lives cannot be understated. It is the number one factor that controls our actions and can also help us shed some light of reasoning on some of our most unreasonable actions. It is the reason we love alcohol, we love sex, we love drugs, we love good food, we love high speed, we love good music.


Defying our human nature, on the other hand, is the answer to the “why” parameter. This idea is strongly associated with impulses that are being imposed on us by the more primitive parts of our brain. Impulses that in the olden days were essential for our survival but in our modern days, they tend to enslave us in a more primitive state of mind. A state of mind that unfortunately slows down our growth and evolution.


I like to use the word struggle in the definition of this idea because in order to defy those primitive impulses, we need to struggle and sometimes even suffer. It is not easy to move beyond a primitive mindset to a more advanced and humanistic one. Evolution has shown that the more our brain develops, the more we become capable of defying and balancing those impulses. However, this process can’t really be internalized if one doesn’t really comprehend its importance and its role in one’s evolution and growth.


Defying our human nature somehow collides with the idea of brain stimulation and it sometimes even tries to sabotage its existence. That, however, is for the best. Becoming a brain stimulation slave will eventually lead to unintended consequences with regards to your relationships with others. The reason behind this is that although there is enough fun for all of us in this world, this fun cannot be experienced by all of us at the same time. There is a balance that needs to be established and this is to say at least fair.


Finding your personal balance between these two parameters will definitely make your purpose less vague. Whether you will be able to see it entirely or not, that I don’t know. Your uniqueness will play its role in this.


The End


After almost 3000 words, I think it is time for me to take a break from this attempt to escape the loneliness of my mind. I won’t lie to you, I do feel a bit less lonely. Somehow the writing process is a way for me to defy my human nature and this can actually help me turn my emptiness into fulfillment.


However, I think I defied my human nature enough for today. I guess I deserve some moments of brain stimulation and fun. I guess it is my brain telling me in its own way that when I was hiding under that table 23 years ago, it wasn’t because of insecurity and loneliness. It was a way for me to have fun. Fun by trying to identify a meaning behind these weird silhouettes and eventually try and play with them.


These weird silhouettes will eventually one day become real figures, real people. People that can be shaped and molded the way I want to.


People that can play with me the way I really want to play.


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Adrian Iliopoulos

I am the founder and main contributor at "The Quintessential Mind" - A unique personal blog that offers a holistic approach to self-development. I am striving to create high-quality content by investing in a reality-based form of self-help, informed by a deep understanding of psychology, philosophy and my own personal experiences and social adventures.
Adrian Iliopoulos