There are really only two reasons to do anything. One of them is self-expression, and the other reason is we are looking for love. Some people, in fact, most people, are looking for love 99% of their waking life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting love. In fact, it’s the best thing about us. It’s just pretty dissatisfying when we don’t find it. Sometimes it feels like the reason we can’t find it is that we’re intrinsically unlovable. Why wouldn’t we think that? The evidence supports it. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Some people spend more of their time in self-expression than others. Examples of this are artists, musicians, writers, and scientists. This is why those of us who are unhappy think that if we could just find our “calling,” we’d be happier. And that is probably true. If we can’t find what we’re looking for 99% of the time, it might be a big relief to do something else that is satisfying once in a while.
Except even those who are lucky enough to have found a calling, find it’s not enough. They are still deeply unhappy. Think of drunken painters who cut off their ears, superstars who intentionally kill themselves, and thousands of creatives who engage in self-destructive behaviors. Clearly, self-expression is better, but without finding love, it is not enough.
So what are we actually doing with our lives? Mostly, we’re searching for love and not finding it. Nearly everything we do is done in an attempt to find love. The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, even the movies we watch and the food we eat-all are motivated by our search for love.
Does that seem unlikely or too simplistic? I invite you to take a close look at your own motivation and find out if it is true or not for you.
When you choose the clothes you’ll wear today, what motivates you? How you’ll feel in them? Great. If you choose clothes according to what you think will be most comfortable for you, your thought process might sound something like this: “I’m gonna wear my favorite comfortable clothes today, because if I’m physically comfortable, I’ll feel relaxed. If I’m relaxed, I will like myself better and if I’m around people, they will like me better if I’m relaxed.”
Or, if you’re choosing clothes, shoes, hairstyle, etc. according to the role you want to play in the world, your thought process might go something like this, “I’m going to wear this outfit today because it makes me look good. If I look good, people will like me better, I’ll feel more confident, and I’ll like me better.”
You’re looking to feel good so you might feel loved by yourself or so you’ll generate a persona for others which might make them love you, or at least notice you.
Why do you buy the clothes you do? What criterion are you using? Perhaps it’s fashion. That’s an obvious one. Why do you want to be fashionable? A: To receive love and approval from others.
Maybe you buy clothes because they suit your body and make you look good. Again, you are seeking love from others as well as a feeling of self-acceptance or confidence. Not only will that confidence maybe quiet that critical voice within a bit, but others are bound to be impressed by your confident attitude.
If you’re perceived as sexy or good-looking, others will want you early as a partner, which will give you a real chance at being loved by another, or, if you already have a partner, will at the very least reassure you that you’re a worthy partner. It will also feel good to know that if anything should ever happen to your relationship, you could find another person to want you.
Getting the picture? The example of clothes may be stronger with women than with men, though if you look deeply, it’s equally valid. Let’s move on to the car you drive. Many men seem to have a stronger association with cars than clothing.
Do you drive a truck? What does a big strong truck say about you? That you are big and strong, capable and hard-working? Society has told us that’s an admirable trait for a man. Everyone is familiar with the cliché of women liking a man for the hot car he drives. Maybe you’re going more for mysterious and sexy. Fast and sleek? These are all attributes our conditioning has told us are desirable in a man.
“But what about personality?” you say. “Are you telling me not to express my personality through my clothes, my house, my hairstyle, and my car?”
Not at all. I am asking you to explore the motivation behind your choices in order to find out what you really want in life. After working with hundreds of people and watching my own processes, I am betting that the motivation behind everything you do, say, think and desire boils down to the need for one thing: to find love.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying there’s a problem with that. In fact, it’s the most amazing thing about us. Because it’s only love we’re after, we are perfectly capable of experiencing a life of joy, peace, and fulfillment.