Happy Mindful Monday to you!
This week I want to get real about “branding” and self-help culture. Do we all need to have a brand? And could we stand to be a little more critical about what it means to become the commodity?
I watched The Secret the other day. Yeah, I admit it. I’m the kind of person who would at least watch The Secret. Research.
Anyway, I’m a big enough person to admit to you that there is a certain sexy allure in the idea that you can visualize your way to independent wealth, and that you are the only obstacle standing in your way.
And if it helps people get over the barriers they really are creating for themselves in life, then by all means, I’m for it.
But far from pushing me into my most alpha mindset or whatever, The Secret helped me see what kind of self-help I don’t want to self-administer anymore.
I do not believe every individual was sent to this Earth to succeed in post-industrial capitalist society.
I do not accept that happiness is at the other end of a guided meditation to help me uncover my one true app concept.
I do not even accept that the meaning of life is escaping existential insecurity. Yes, I want to escape existential insecurity, but I don’t think it’s what I’m here to do.
I think entrepreneurship is super-awesome. I also think selling everyone on the idea of entrepreneurship is how the self-help industry creates obsessed lifelong devotees.
It is not possible or reasonable that every person is intended to helm a successful organization of their own creation. For one thing, who is going to be the employees?
But this is what I really want to stress here: 1) being the boss is not an escape from capitalist reality; and 2) this ideology is based on the notion that capitalism is a moral necessity.
In its present iteration, secular prosperity theology posits that the best we can aspire to is becoming the product. You get the Instagram likes, you get the Squarespace sponsorship deal, you are what you put as your occupation.
We are in a ridiculous time that has managed to democratize fame just enough to drive millions and millions of people crazy trying to get it. The wrong thing is participating, the right thing is…creating something it would be morally wrong for other people to participate in?
It’s cool to follow a dream that makes you internet famous, just like it’s cool to follow a dream that makes you wealthy.
But becoming the product isn’t the only resolution to living in capitalist society.
I don’t have the perfect answer to a third way. But I’m not going to beat myself up anymore for not having meditated my way into being my best, most producery/consumery self. Enlightenment isn’t meant to be a symbiotic relationship between you and your curated monthly subscription services. And just because people will pay you to shout at them for not having made enough money yet doesn’t mean the essential question is the best way to make money.
Nothing is for everyone. People who are happy and thrive in the entrepreneurial world wouldn’t jive with a word I’m saying. That’s fine.
But you are not a failure because you haven’t ‘escaped the system.’ Maybe there isn’t a price on what you’re really meant to do. Maybe the thing that brings you lasting happiness can’t be monetized. Stop thinking that’s a failure! Stop limiting your human potential to your ability to generate capital!
If nothing else, ask yourself how much of your spiritual or emotional energy is invested in your material reality. How much of your interest in bettering yourself as a person corresponds with wealth accumulation? There’s nothing wrong with accumulating wealth per se, but you should be prepared to take a critical look at what part of your value system is money-based.
TLDR: it’s ok if you don’t think being the boss is the only way to transcend capitalist drudgery. And it’s really ok if the whole thing round hole, square peg thing never works itself out. The meaning of life probably has nothing to do with an exploitive human-made economic model, so you’re probably doing fine. ❤