Be > Do > Have
Most of us want something. Maybe it’s a car, a super cool micro-apartment, a certain amount of money, a great job…whatever. We think that once we have this something, it will enable us to do something. Once I have money, I will get myself out of debt. Once I have a car, I will drive it down the street for my friends to see. And when we do that something, we will be a certain way. Once I’m out of debt, I will be secure. Once my friends see me in my new car, I will be respected. The formula is HAVE > DO > BE.
Have-do-be is the force that has launched a thousand ad campaigns. Buy (have) our deodorant > nail (do) that presentation > be confident. The ad folk don’t believe most of us will buy their products based on utility alone; e.g. you should buy our deodorant because it will make you smell better. No, their products have to change who we are in some fundamental way–if we are insecure, we will become confident.
But it doesn’t work, does it? The deodorant wears off and our insecurities return.
The difficulty is that nothing outside us will ever change our insides in any meaningful way. This is not an admonition for buying stuff. That deodorant might make us smell more pleasant, but don’t expect anything beyond that. If we as a society understood the limitations of our material goods to affect our state of being–whether it’s a stick of deodorant or a McMansion–we’d probably need to have a whole lot less.
There is an alternative model. It’s BE > DO > HAVE. Start from a place of existential wholeness. Realize you’re lacking nothing and be confident. Nail (do) the presentation, or whatever confident people do. Have whatever you need to support your state and the actions it entails. Rather than presupposing what will make us confident or the things we’ll do under the spell of that confidence, we can have things as-needed. Maybe that deodorant will help us nail that presentation, but maybe not. When we begin to understand the limitations of our material goods, we start acquiring stuff on an as-needed basis, not a this-will-change-my-life basis. This leads to a lot less stuff and, perhaps just as important, a lot less disappointment–we finally stop expecting our stuff to make us happy.
image via empowernetwork.com