Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?

We’ve been hardwired to lean towards positive experiences, so with the insight that we’ve given wants a positive connotation and needs a negative or neutral connotation – it is easy to see how we can experience wants as an overriding factor on a subjective level. Objectively – we can all quite easily understand that...

Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’. And this is known by the marketing industry and is...

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect - Meconomics

There’s many things we feel we are lacking, not on a physical level, but on a… let’s call it ‘beingness-level’ – be it acceptance, freedom, passion, intimacy, happiness, etc. Those are things we cannot buy and that we cannot...

Reality in a Bubble - Meconomics

To give you an idea of the far-reaching consequences these bubbles can have, just think of the recent financial crisis. Greece was herein the unfortunate ‘posterchild’. On the 17th of June the Debt Truth Commission, set up to investigate the truth...

Inflating Reality Much? - Meconomics

So – we have this nasty habit of inflating something that happens in our physical reality through interpreting it and reacting to it in our experiential reality – making it seem bigger than it actually is. I’m sure you can relate to such moments, they occur so often that...

30 July 2015

Have you Ever been Swept Off Your Feet? - Meconomics

This blogpost is a continuation to:
Reality in a Bubble – Meconomics
Inflating Reality Much? – Meconomics
Do You Know the Stakes of the Bets you Place? – Meconomics








In the previous blog we started looking at the different stages we move through when we inflate things in our reality:

1.    the start/onset,
2.    the process of inflation,
3.    the popping of the bubble.

We ended off our discussion of the start/onset of the inflation bubble with the following:

“You have to remember, we’re slowing things down here – in those moments, it all happens in a blink of an eye. You ask your partner about the toothpaste – he says he forgot – and next thing you’re already saying ‘Gee, you’re such an ass!!’. Everything that we looked at here, happens in that tiny fraction of a moment between hearing he forgot the toothpaste and speaking to him in response. Because it all moves so fast, we often don’t realize how it is in those fractions of moments that we’re actually busy creating/starting an inflation bubble. Yet, it’s in those fractions of moments that the first point of responsibility lies: you interpreted, you chose, you made a bet – and went forward with it.

What do I mean with ‘and went forward with it’. Once you’ve interpreted your partner’s forgetfulness as meaning that ‘he’s an ass’ – then that is how you see him, how you will speak to him, how you will approach him. In other words – you’re actually no longer speaking to your partner as the person standing in front of you, you’re speaking to your own interpretation of who you perceive your partner to be. This is the moment where you’re creating a shift/rift in your reality – from remaining grounded in the physical reality – to entering a ‘bubble’.”


So, let’s move on to the next stage:

2. The Process of Inflation

The process of inflation is that section of the event where things just escalate more and more and kind of start getting out of hand. The start/onset was merely, you acting on the interpretation of what a person did. In the example we used, the start/onset was exemplified by the saying of the words ‘Gee, you’re such an ass’.

Now – any person can see that these words (Gee, you’re such an ass) are not ‘neutral words’, they are charged words. Words are charged when we speak them with a particular energy. We charge our words positively when we speak words with for instance love or hope, (eg: I know you can do this, honey!) and we charge words negatively when we speak words with for instance anger, annoyance or frustration (eg: how many times must I tell you this!).

These energetic charges are key to understanding the process of inflation, because generally speaking, something interesting happens when we speak words that are energetically charged. You can see it for yourself by looking at any memories where a person spoke to you and their words were energetically charged: how did you feel? You might not be able to name the exact experience you had, but you definitely felt ‘something’. That ‘something’ is your energetic reaction to another’s words.

So – when we speak within energy and our words are charged – the person we are speaking to is more than likely going to now have their own energetic reaction to that. If they then speak in that moment while they are having this energy moving inside themselves, their words will also be energetically charged. What happens then? Well now, we are going to react again upon hearing these energetically charged words. Are you starting to see how this works? You get a back-and-forth argument as every time a person speaks, the other reacts and ‘wants to say something back’. As this back-and-forth argument continues, what happens inside each person? Each one’s energy levels are increasing and more and more the energetic experience becomes the driving force in each one’s words and actions. In other words – the argument gets more and more emotional and less and less rational.

Dependent on whether the initial charge of the words were positive or negative, you will start creating a bubble between you and the person you’re speaking with that is either filled with positive energy or with negative energy.

When the initial charge of the words spoken was negative, then the other person is likely to respond with a negative energy/experience and their words will also be negatively charged. That is the case in the example we’re working with. The initial words spoken (let’s say by person A) were “Gee, you’re such an ass”, which are words that are negatively charged. The other person (call it person B) will react negatively in return, and their words will also be negatively charged. The negative energy that person A is receiving from person B is now intensifying and supporting person A’s original negative experience, and so it gets bigger. Each time person A or person B speaks with negative energy, they are in essence ‘feeding’ the negative energy within the other. So, both are now being swept up in a cycle of negativity that builds and get bigger. That is the bubble that is being inflated. Inflated with what? With negative energy.

The same dynamic can take place with positive energy. If a person speaks while experiencing positive energy like excitement, their words will be positively charged and the person they are speaking to will probably experience a positive experience in return (this is what is referred to in sayings like ‘her enthusiasm is rubbing off on me’). In the same way, this can lead to a back-and-forth conversation where the positive energy just builds and builds more and more. Have you ever heard teenage girls screeching and shouting with high-pitched voices in absolute excitement – well, this is how they ‘get to’ that state. The only difference is that the bubble they created was inflated with positive energy.

In both cases – whether the bubble was inflated with positive or negative energy – the participants in the bubble are being swept away further and further away from actual physical reality and start to see everything either ‘extremely negatively’ or ‘extremely positively’ – neither experience is grounded in reality – because the physical is neither positive or negative – it just is what it is.

16 July 2015

Do You Know the Stakes of the Bets you Place? - Meconomics

This blogpost is a continuation to:

Reality in a Bubble – Meconomics
Inflating Reality Much? – Meconomics

Read the previous posts for context.





I ended off my previous post with the following:

“When we start reacting inside ourselves (in the experiential reality/dimension) to what we hear/see in our physical reality, we change the way we perceive reality. If your partner forgot to buy toothpaste, then in physical reality, this means: your partner forgot to buy toothpaste. (Okay, that may sound silly, but it’s actually so silly that most of us don’t recognize how complicated we make our lives.) In your experiential reality, if your partner forgot to buy toothpaste, it can mean: “My partner doesn’t care about me”; “My partner is unreliable”; “I have to think of everything in this relationship”, “I do so much for him/her and he/she can’t even do this one little thing for me”.

So – we have this nasty habit of inflating something that happens in our physical reality through interpreting it and reacting to it in our experiential reality – making it seem bigger than it actually is. I’m sure you can relate to such moments, they occur so often that we have come to accept them as ‘normal’ – but let’s continue looking at them a bit further so we can really grasp and understand what it is we’re doing in such moments and how it creates a direct line of responsibility from ourselves to the phenomenon of speculative bubbles and the consequences they create in people’s lives.”

We can identify three stages when it comes to inflating things in our reality:
1.    the start/onset,
2.    the process of inflation,
3.    the popping of the bubble.

Let’s look at each of these stages in turn so we can really go into the nitty-gritty of how this works, what we participate in, how we actually create these bubbles. When it comes to meconomics – the better we understand ourselves, how these things work in our own personal lives on a small scale, the more empowered we are to understand and change how the same is manifested on a large scale in the economy.


1.    The Start/Onset of Inflation Bubbles in our Lives

We’ve looked at how we’re working with two realities or dimensions of reality – the physical reality and the experiential reality. We saw how, when something happens in our physical reality, that we pick up with our physical senses, we often INTERPRET these events to have a particular ‘meaning’. So – you’ve got your physical reality, you’ve got your physical senses like hearing, touch, smell, etc with which you take in information of what happens around you – but then – you also have an inner experiential reality through which the information is ‘filtered’ and where you add additional meaning and interpretations to what happens in your physical reality.

So, if we take the fictional example of your partner forgetting to buy toothpaste – what you pick up through your physical senses is just that: your partner forgot to buy toothpaste. But now – that information gets filtered through your inner experiential reality, which can be for instance all the memories of when he forgot to do something, or all the memories where you went out of your way to do something for him when he asked you to – and then together with that – all the experiences, emotions, feelings you’ve had in those previous memories. So – even though the information that is ‘coming in’ from your environment is: “your partner forgot to buy toothpaste” – what you end up experiencing and perceiving can be “he’s such an ass”.

(Little side-note: I’m here using the viewpoint of a female and the partner who forgot to buy the toothpaste as being a male to cut down on having to write him/her – but obviously, you can switch the roles and genders around, it goes both ways. So, if you’re a guy reading this, then just imagine the partner being a woman who forgot to buy toothpaste and the eventual experience being “she’s such a bitch”.)

What is interesting about this, is that it is actually a form of speculating. What is speculating? It is to “form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.” In this example, the conclusion or theory is that ‘your partner is an ass’ and that’s why he forgot to buy tooth paste. You don’t have any firm evidence, because you’re just using your own memories and experiences as a reference and assuming that they provide you with solid proof, but they don’t really. In terms of what happened ‘right now’, in that ‘that’ moment – all you’ve got is that your partner forgot to buy toothpaste, everything else that you think about it or feel about it, is based on speculation.

When it comes to speculating in the financial market, the same happens – you’re looking at different indicators and factors, what direction things seem to be moving in – from that you make assumptions about what will happen in the future and from there, you make your investment decisions. You have no certainty beforehand, you’re only interpreting data and trying to derive ‘meaning’ from it and then trying to project this meaning in the future to see where you would best invest. Speculation in the financial market is an investment with the hope of gain, but with a risk of loss – wherein your decision-making is based on assumptions/conjectures/guesses. In other words: you’re placing a bet, you’re gambling.

If we bring this back to our personal lives where we interpret what happens in our physical reality by filtering it through our inner experiential reality, we’re actually placing a bet as well. It is a choice, for instance, to believe your perception and interpretation that ‘your partner is an ass’ to be true – you’re betting on it being true. And what are you placing in the balance? The future of your relationship.

You have to remember, we’re slowing things down here – in those moments, it all happens in a blink of an eye. You ask your partner about the toothpaste – he says he forgot – and next thing you’re already saying ‘Gee, you’re such an ass!!’. Everything that we looked at here, happens in that tiny fraction of a moment between hearing he forgot the toothpaste and speaking to him in response. Because it all moves so fast, we often don’t realize how it is in those fractions of moments that we’re actually busy creating/starting an inflation bubble. Yet, it’s in those fractions of moments that the first point of responsibility lies: you interpreted, you chose, you made a bet – and went forward with it.

What do I mean with ‘and went forward with it’. Once you’ve interpreted your partner’s forgetfulness as meaning that ‘he’s an ass’ – then that is how you see him, how you will speak to him, how you will approach him. In other words – you’re actually no longer speaking to your partner as the person standing in front of you, you’re speaking to your own interpretation of who you perceive your partner to be. This is the moment where you’re creating a shift/rift in your reality – from remaining grounded in the physical reality – to entering a ‘bubble’.

07 July 2015

Inflating Reality Much? - Meconomics

This post is a continuation to:

Reality in a Bubble – Meconomics


In my previous post we discussed speculative bubbles in the economy, where we saw how prices of assets increase through a process of speculation over and above the ‘real prices’ (which would reflect their actual value). We say the prices are ‘inflated’ (just like how you inflate a balloon or bubble) – and we looked at some of the major damage that those speculative bubbles can create, especially after they pop, where we looked at the example of the Greek economy.

How are Speculative Bubbles in the economy a reflection of bubbles we create in our personal lives?

Maybe let’s start with the following question: have you ever had an argument with a friend, family member or partner where the initial point of disagreement or the initial issue is blown entirely out of proportion? A conversation with your partner can start, for instance, with ‘did you remember to buy us toothpaste?’ and end up in a full-blown fight with shouting and tears. And then when you calm down, you realize you just broke up with your partner – you can’t remember how the fight started but suddenly your life looks very different. How does that happen? How do we do that?

We do it through a process of inflation – have a look, I twice used some form of the word ‘blowing’ in the above paragraph: blowing something out of proportion and full-blown fight – we blow bubbles and then they pop. Why is it inflation? Because there is no way someone is going to break up with their partner over forgetting to buy toothpaste – obviously something happened between the asking of that question and breaking up…

What we’re looking at is two ‘dimensions’ – you have the first dimension which is the ‘physical reality’, the actual events that take place or the reality we all have in common, and you have the ‘experiential reality’, which is how you interpret things that happen in your reality, how you become upset or sad over something, everything that you experience, that ‘takes place’ on an energetic level inside your own mind and body. I put the words ‘takes place’ in those little quotation marks, because the very nature of everything that happens in your ‘experiential reality’ is that it doesn’t really take up space – it’s not physical, you can’t touch it. We generate those experiences inside ourselves in moments, but they are not constant or stable.

When we start reacting inside ourselves (in the experiential reality/dimension) to what we hear/see in our physical reality, we change the way we perceive reality. If your partner forgot to buy toothpaste, then in physical reality, this means: your partner forgot to buy toothpaste. (Okay, that may sound silly, but it’s actually so silly that most of us don’t recognize how complicated we make our lives.) In your experiential reality, if your partner forgot to buy toothpaste, it can mean: “My partner doesn’t care about me”; “My partner is unreliable”; “I have to think of everything in this relationship”, “I do so much for him/her and he/she can’t even do this one little thing for me”.

So – we have this nasty habit of inflating something that happens in our physical reality through interpreting it and reacting to it in our experiential reality – making it seem bigger than it actually is. I’m sure you can relate to such moments, they occur so often that we have come to accept them as ‘normal’ – but let’s continue looking at them a bit further so we can really grasp and understand what it is we’re doing in such moments and how it creates a direct line of responsibility from ourselves to the phenomenon of speculative bubbles and the consequences they create in people’s lives.

23 June 2015

Reality in a Bubble - Meconomics

Here’s a fun topic to explore – BUBBLES!!!

What do you know about blowing bubbles?
1. It’s fun
2. You blow air unto a film of soapy liquid and it starts creating a bubble
3. The more air you blow into it, the bigger the bubble becomes
3. Blow in too much air – and the bubble pops.

Bubbles exist in economics as well – they’re called ‘Speculative Bubbles’.

Here’s a definition from Investopedia (don’t worry if you don’t understand everything):

“A spike in asset values within a particular industry, commodity, or asset class.

A speculative bubble is usually caused by exaggerated expectations of future growth, price appreciation, or other events that could cause an increase in asset values. This drives trading volumes higher, and as more investors rally around the heightened expectation, buyers outnumber sellers, pushing prices beyond what an objective analysis of intrinsic value would suggest.

The bubble is not completed until prices fall back down to normalized levels; this usually involves a period of steep decline in price during which most investors panic and sell out of their investments.”
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/speculativebubble.asp#ixzz3dmyCNpUB

In the simplest terms, what is said here is: Air is put into a bubble and then the bubble bursts. What happens, is that the value of assets is inflated beyond their real value. So – you have an asset, say a house – that has a particular intrinsic value – say 3 million dollars. Through speculation, the price of the house is driven up, for instance from 3 million to 5 million dollars – but the actual value of the house doesn’t change – it’s still only actually worth 3 million dollars. The 2 million that gets added on top is just air – and the bubble bursts when the price decreases at a fast pace from 5 back to 3 million.

You can imagine how these bubbles can create economic disasters – because in the end, economics is about sustaining lives. When you don’t know whether the ground you’re walking on is real or could collapse any moment, you’re working with instability and uncertainty, which at the moment are two words that are embedded in our economic system, partly due to the nature of these speculative bubbles.

To give you an idea of the far-reaching consequences these bubbles can have, just think of the recent financial crisis. Greece was herein the unfortunate ‘posterchild’.  On the 17th of June the Debt Truth Commission, set up to investigate the truth about the Greek debt, presented their preliminary findings to parliament. I suggest you read through the entire article (http://cadtm.org/Summary-of-the-first-day-of-the), but for the purpose of this post, specifically read the following paragraph:

“The scientific coordinator recounted the history of the Greek debt in a way that has not been done by the mainstream medias during the last five years: “We realised that the usual explanations of a disastrous state of public finances were not confirmed”; he said. A strict analysis of the facts and the figures has allowed the commission to look at past events differently. As from the moment that Greece entered the Eurozone private capital rushed into Greece where it earned high yields. Wherever capital converges speculative bubbles are created! We have the figures that prove this happened: between 2001 and 2009 household loans increased sevenfold and small business loans increased fourfold, while State loans only increased by 20%. At end of the 2000s the finances that were suffering were heavily indebted private finances not State finances.”
http://cadtm.org/Summary-of-the-first-day-of-the

Speculative bubbles were right at the center of the on-set of economic instability in Greece – this instability rapidly escalating and spiraling out into these disastrous consequences:

“• –– Vicious circle of recession.The continuous drop in GDP, in 2011 surpassing the historical maximum for the entire postwar period, led to a rapid reduction in domestic demand. Lower production led to dismissals and the loss of thousands of jobs, further amplifying recession.

• –– Unemployment had already more than doubled within the first three years of austerity and reached 25.4 percent in August 2012. More than half of the population between 15–24 years old is unemployed (57 percent; Eurostat 2012), while thousands of jobs have been lost under conditions of insufficient social protection. Given the continuation of the crisis, the new unemployed become the chronic unemployed.

• –– Rapid labor deterioration, as shown by the increase of precarious and uninsured work, insecurity, degrading payments, weakening of labour rights, and deregulation of labour agreements.

• –– Strangling of the lower middle class, traditionally consisting of small and medium sized enterprises. A great number of such enterprises (family-owned or not) were unable to survive declining consumption, lack of liquidity, and emergency taxes. More than 65,000 of them closed down in 2010 alone, resulting in a “clearance” of such enterprises and disaffecting the people dependent on them.

• –– Migration of younger, highly educated people has risen (“brain drain”), while those studying and living abroad are discouraged to return to Greece, and those who previously would have stayed, are now leaving.

• –– Homelessness increased by 25 percent from 2009 to 2011. Along with the pre-crisis and “hidden” immigrant homelessness, a generation of “neohomeless” now exists who include those with medium or higher educational backgrounds who previously belonged to the social middle.

• –– Suicides hit record levels, increasing by 25 percent from 2009 to 2010 and by an additional 40 percent from 2010 to 2011.

• –– Deterioration of public health evidenced by reduced access to health care services and an increase of 52 percent in HIV infections from 2010 to 2011. Drug prevention centers and psychiatric clinics have closed down due to budget cuts.

To this, one could also add a worrying political impact – that a country with a traditionally weak far right now has one of the largest organised Neo-nazi movements in Europe. In the 2015 legislative elections the ‘Golden Dawn’ secured third place in the popular vote.”
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-greek-economic-crisis-the-social-impacts-of-austerity-debunking-the-myths/5431010

So – perhaps economic bubbles are not as fun as the bubbles you blow as a child. But what about the bubbles we blow in our daily lives – what do economic bubbles have to show us about the human condition? That’s what I’ll explore in posts to come. After all – the economic system is a human creation – created in our image and likeness.

16 June 2015

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect - Meconomics

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?


In the previous post we started looking at why and how it is that we can experience certain wants as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’, where we looked at the role of expectations:

“Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not really part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’.”

There’s many things we feel we are lacking, not on a physical level, but on a… let’s call it ‘beingness-level’ – be it acceptance, freedom, passion, intimacy, happiness, etc. Those are things we cannot buy and that we cannot even get from something or someone else – they cannot be ‘acquired’ or ‘given to us’. They are things we have to give to ourselves and that we inherently feel ‘should already be part of ourselves’. So, when we feel we are lacking them, it’s like we’re not complete as a being, as a person. If you add to that a shiny new smartphone that you wrongfully believe will give you, for instance, ‘acceptance’ – you have the perfect recipe for a very strong urge and desire to go out and get that smartphone.

Most of the time we take our desires for granted – “I feel I want it, therefore I want it”, lol – when actually, it’s not, for instance, the smartphone you really want, but the smartphone is representing ‘acceptance’ to you. So – on a conscious level, all you’ll feel and be aware of, is a strong urge to get that smartphone, where you probably don’t really understand why the urge is so strong and maybe you will give yourself reasons by summing up the specs and telling yourself how good of a phone it is, but the underlying reason is missed. You might even try to tell yourself you don’t need the smartphone, and give yourself all the rational reasons why you should and can wait – but damn, that urge is still there – it just doesn’t go away – and what’s more, it’s building!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when positive energetic experiences, like desire, are very strong and keep building and are not ‘moving out’ – it can become quite uncomfortable. There are sayings like ‘I love you so much it hurts’ – well it’s kind of like that. No matter if the original experience was ‘positive’ – like desire or love – if it just keeps building inside you and you don’t know how to give it direction – it becomes uncomfortable, sometimes even feels like emotional ‘torture’. And it’s there that the want will start feeling like a need – because pain and discomfort is how needs make themselves known.

In the end – the reason why we can mistake a want for a need is because we’re not really aware of ourselves and we accept any impulse or experience at face value. Somehow we don’t know or forget that we actually have the ability to look at a want and go: okay, what are my expectations here? Are they realistic? If they are not realistic, we can look at what it is we expect to ‘gain’ from our purchase (say freedom, acceptance, etc) that we should actually be giving to ourselves – then how do I give that to myself? How do I create that in my life? Once you see how this works, and start applying this reasoning – you’ll see you can direct your wants and your inner experiences quite easily. So long as you ‘remain in the dark’, you’re powerless and at the mercy of what your experiences dictate and you can become quite a dysfunctional human being. Take the example of addictions, what are they but an extreme form of the confusion between wants and needs?

I started this series to investigate the cornerstone of economic theory: the economic problem of satisfying ‘unlimited wants and needs’ in a world with limited resources. To determine whose wants and needs will be satisfied, purchasing power is used as the criterion. I zoomed in on the fact that ‘wants and needs’ are treated as one concept with the same characteristics, when actually needs are limited and so we could at least start with satisfying everyone’s needs and then afterwards design a system that determines whose wants will be satisfied. Since the concepts ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are used in such a sloppy way in economic theory, I wondered if the same is true on a personal level – applying the principle ‘as above, so below’.

So what is the conclusion? Lol – I think it’s clear those two little words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ can create quite a bit of havoc in our personal life if the distinction isn’t clear and we don’t look further than the tip of our nose. It’s no wonder we have failed to eradicate poverty so far. And yet, maybe that is all that is required – or at least it is a start – to clearly define the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ for yourself and begin to approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in your own life. It is one way to start taking responsibility for the ineptitude with which we’ve been attempting to confront global economic problems. If we can address wants and needs effectively in our own life, then we can do the same on a large scale – first making sure everyone’s needs are met and then we can start looking at how to satisfy desires.

A political and economic proposal was designed with this purpose in mind – the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal by the Equal Life Foundation. Please share and create awareness on this proposal, because it simply is not acceptable that millions suffer just because two words are not clearly defined in our dictionary.

04 June 2015

Meconomics: Can you Buy Happiness?

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living 
Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?
 


I ended off my previous post with the following:

“So – we have looked at how wants can in a moment override a need – where we identified subjective experiences and time as important players – but we can look a bit further and ask: why does it sometimes feel like we ‘NEEEED’ the things that we ACTUALLY don’t need. Objectively speaking – they are wants, things you can go without – and yet, you can experience a sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘must have’ and ‘I need it’ towards that which you want. Now wants really start messing with your sense of priority, lol. It’s one thing to be clear on the fact that what you are enticed by in a moment is not something you truly need, but you want to indulge yourself anyway – it’s another to feel like you actually NEED it when you don’t.”

Let’s do an exercise: search for one of those moments in your memory – a moment where: you felt that you absolutely NEEDED to have something, where, if you look back at it now, you didn’t ACTUALLY really need it, but you wanted it so bad that it FELT like you needed it. Now zoom in to the actual experience of need and ask yourself the following: were you experiencing physical discomfort? Were you deprived of something on a physical level, which needed replenishing to ensure you remain functional in your body? Were you in physical danger?

You’ll see that the answers to those questions are ‘no’ – because the apparent ‘need’ was not experienced on a physical level – it was instead experienced on an ENERGETIC/ EMOTIONAL level – where we feel we are being emotionally tortured so long as we don’t go and buy whatever it is we’ve now fixated on wanting to get. If those are not actual, physical, genuine needs, then what are they?

Here we need to actually look at different types of wants or desires. And more specifically – how realistic our expectations are of fulfilling these wants and desires. See – you can want to have a cup of coffee, because you expect that for a moment you’ll really enjoy drinking that coffee and it might assist you being more focused and awake for a short period of time – and when actually having that coffee – that’s exactly what you’re experiencing and what happens. That would be a want with realistic expectations. A want with unrealistic expectations, would be for instance if you want to buy the newest smart-phone because you think your friends will accept you if you keep up with the latest tech trends. What you actually want here, or expect to gain – is acceptance – that is the underlying want you are looking to fulfil. Now smartphones can increasingly do very impressive stuff – but giving you acceptance in yourself and your life is a huge and unrealistic responsibility to place on any phone. Realistic expectations of fulfilling a want stand in direct relation to the actual properties and functions of your want. If you like the taste of coffee, then you will enjoy drinking that cup of coffee and coffee has the characteristic and property of keeping you awake and more focused for a little while – those expectations stand in direct relation to your want, which is coffee. Acceptance however, is not directly related to a smartphone – it’s not within its power to give that to you. When you buy a smartphone, what you will get is a smartphone – acceptance is not part of the package.

It is when we have such unrealistic expectations of fulfilling a particular want – that the experience of ‘want’ can be experienced as a ‘need’ or a ‘must have’. And this is known by the marketing industry and is deliberately used within advertising strategies. I watched a series the other day where one of the characters, who was a car salesman said: “I don’t sell cars, I sell freedom”. As an exercise for yourself, you can look at advertisement and try to see what unrealistic expectation they are trying to create within their viewers – and as a fun challenge within that: try to see how many products apparently will give you passionate sex, lol – advertisements of all kinds of products, from soft drinks, to cars, to perfumes – implicitly play on the desire and urge for sex to sell their products for them. 

So what is it about those wants where we have unrealistic expectations, that we would experience them as a ‘need’?

I’ll continue exploring this topic in my next post.

30 May 2015

Meconomics: Do you Spend your Money Objectively or Subjectively?

This post is a continuation to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied
Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living

In my previous post I started looking at how wants and needs are confused in our daily living. Needs would be the things you cannot go without and so, common sensically, they would be your priority when deciding what to spend your money on. Wants are things you can go without, but you would prefer not to. Often we lose sight of this distinction – where we will forget about or compromise on our needs to fulfil a want. Then we looked at the following:

“Most of the time, we don’t feel needs or are even aware of our needs, it is only when we lack our basic needs that we suddenly start being affected by them, first on a physical level – and if we see we can’t satisfy our needs, we’ll go into anxiety, stress and survival-mode. But when our needs are being met – they are ‘silent’ and go unnoticed, we feel they don’t really ‘add’ anything to our lives, because we have taken them for granted as just being a part of our daily living.

Desires on the other hand – do give us an energetic thrill or rush. We feel better thinking about our desires and fulfilling/satisfying them, we look forward to fulfilling them, they occupy our minds and lead us to daydreaming, they make us feel hopeful that we/our lives will be better once we satisfy them.”

We’ve been hardwired to lean towards positive experiences, so with the insight that we’ve given wants a positive connotation and needs a negative or neutral connotation – it is easy to see how we can experience wants as an overriding factor on a subjective level. Objectively – we can all quite easily understand that needs come before wants and that satisfying wants is secondary to satisfying needs – but on a subjective level – the level where energetic experiences, emotions and feelings determine what we value and think is important – the opposite is true: wants are more interesting, because they ‘give us’ more pleasant experiences than needs.

So – the problem doesn’t seem to be our rational understanding of needs and wants – but rather that our subjective experiences can in a moment cloud what is most important. A person can for instance make a budget plan, intending to have sufficient funds set aside to pay off bills throughout the month in consideration and understanding of the importance of doing so and the consequences of not doing so – and yet, can in a moment indulge in an enticing want, that ends up compromising the person's available funds at the end of the month. Because in that one moment – when the desire is experienced – the decision is influenced by the subjective experience that comes with fulfilling a want – objective rationality is denounced in the name of a feeling. Some might be able to relate to such moments more than others, as it will depend on your own relationship to your feelings and emotions  - to what extent you place value in them / to what extend you include momentary experiences in decision making.

Here we can also highlight another dimension that plays a role in deciding what to spend your money on – which is: time. Objectively – we know that if we don’t plan ahead to ensure we have enough funds to cover our needs – be it certain or uncertain ones (for instance, having savings for unexpected medical emergencies) – we will come to a point in time where we will not have enough and be in trouble. Yet – subjectively – short-term gratification can override long-term satisfaction – where we will be willing to ‘risk’ not having enough funds later on, to be able to indulge in a satisfying a want in the present moment. This often goes hand in hand with an idea that there is ‘time’ to figure things out and find another solution for the problem we are about to create later down the line – and also, unfortunately, often goes hand in hand with regret when we get to that later moment and realize: we got something we desired in that moment, but didn’t actually have alternatives/magical solutions to sort out/generate other funds to cover the need.

So – we have looked at how wants can in a moment override a need – where we identified subjective experiences and time as important players – but we can look a bit further and ask: why does it sometimes feel like we ‘NEEEED’ the things that we ACTUALLY don’t need. Objectively speaking – they are wants, things you can go without – and yet, you can experience a sense of ‘urgency’ and ‘must have’ and ‘I need it’ towards that which you want. Now wants really start messing with your sense of priority, lol. It’s one thing to be clear on the fact that what you are enticed by in a moment is not something you truly need, but you want to indulge yourself anyway – it’s another to feel like you actually NEED it when you don’t.

Let’s look at that dimension more closely in the next post.

20 May 2015

Meconomics: Wants and Needs in your Daily Living

This blogpost is a continuous to:

Meconomics: I need my Wants and Want my Needs to be Satisfied

To gain context on 'Meconomics', read and watch:

"Meconomics": ME-Economics
[83] Introducing Meconomics

In my previous blog I wrote about the word ‘wants’ and the word ‘needs’ and how, in economic theory, the two words started merging together into ‘wants&needs’ – treating both words as though they have the same properties and characteristics – as well as how this new merged term was then used as a justification for ineffective distribution processes in our capitalistic economic model wherein some people’s needs are not being satisfied, whereas others can satisfy virtually all their wants and desires.

In this post we’re going to apply the principle ‘as above, so below’ – keeping in mind that the economic model is a human creation – built in the image and likeness of its creator – it is worthwhile finding out where within ourselves we confuse the terms ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in our daily living.

Have you ever been in a situation where, you realize you need to pay a water or electricity bill, but realize you’re out of funds, because you bought something in the last few weeks that you really wanted, and kind of forgot to keep money aside for these essential expenses?

Or have you ever been in a situation where you learned about a new product or gadget, like a new playstation, iphone, cooking utensil – you name it – where you just couldn’t get it out of your mind and felt you ‘had to get it’ and would feel kind of restless until the moment you bought it?

Or have you ever postponed studying for an exam, and a few days before the exam date, suddenly realized you spent most of your time on entertainment, going out with friends, watching movies or partying?

How does that happen? How come we don’t prioritize our needs over our wants?

That is actually something you can answer for yourself, have a look:

How often do you get excited over the idea that you will continue to have electricity in your house?
How often are you exhilarated by merely thinking about eating your sandwich in the cafeteria during your lunch break?
How many of your days are filled thinking about the new plain dark blue socks you’re going to buy because most of your current ones are worn out – where you enter a daydream and feel so absolutely excited and fulfilled imagining buying those new socks?

For most of us – that doesn’t really happen. For most of us – our needs are ‘boring’. Fulfilling our needs forms part of the basic support that we have and give ourselves, but they don’t give us a ‘thrill’, they don’t make us ‘ecstatic’, they don’t even get us excited. A need is not something you ‘feel’ on an energetic level – they don’t make themselves known through a rush. Rather – a need will make itself known through physical discomfort: hunger shows you a need for food, painful feet shows you a need for new shoes, the discomfort of taking showers in ice cold water shows us the need to pay our electricity bill. Needs make themselves known through ‘negative’ physical experiences.

Most of the time, we don’t feel needs or are even aware of our needs, it is only when we lack our basic needs that we suddenly start being affected by them, first on a physical level – and if we see we can’t satisfy our needs, we’ll go into anxiety, stress and survival-mode. But when our needs are being met – they are ‘silent’ and go unnoticed, we feel they don’t really ‘add’ anything to our lives, because we have taken them for granted as just being a part of our daily living.

Desires on the other hand – do give us an energetic thrill or rush. We feel better thinking about our desires and fulfilling/satisfying them, we look forward to fulfilling them, they occupy our minds and lead us to daydreaming, they make us feel hopeful that we/our lives will be better once we satisfy them.

I’ll continue opening up this point in my next post – stay tuned…

12 May 2015

Meconomics: I Want my Needs and Need my Wants to be Satisfied

The economic problem – the corner stone of economic theory – is defined as the satisfaction of unlimited wants and needs in a world with finite/limited physical resources. This implies that not all wants and needs can be satisfied, so the questions economic models attempt to answer are: How is it decided which wants and needs will be satisfied? How is it decided whose wants and needs will be satisfied? In our world today – the answer is: “those who can pay for the satisfaction of their wants and needs will see them satisfied, those who can’t pay for it – well, sorry, we have to draw the line somewhere”.

As I was reading about the economic problem for the first time – I found it fascinating that they used the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in the same way and treated them as one term – like this: ‘wants&needs’ – lol. The difference between wants and needs was briefly explained, but then both words were thrown under the ‘wants&needs’ banner – as though ‘needs’ carry the same characteristics as ‘wants’ and ‘wants’ carry the same characteristics as ‘needs’. When you approach the economic problem by reading the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ as ‘wants&needs’ - then the world as it is today might make sense to you – then the economic problem might actually be a justification for the desolation and lack in which millions live. Perhaps that is how economists want us to read the words, so that we won’t hold them accountable for not yet having come up with a better solution.

‘Wants’ and ‘needs’, however, are two very different things. ‘Needs’ are things you NEED – that you cannot go without or you will be physically and emotionally compromised. ‘Wants’ are things you WANT – they go beyond what you ‘need’ – you can go without, but you would like or prefer to experience them or have them in your life. It is true to say that if you tally up all the individual wants of all the people on the planet – you will end up with ‘unlimited wants’. The same is not true for needs, however – there are certain things no human being can go without – say food, water, shelter, social interaction, medical support – where this is the same for every single person by virtue of them being ‘a human’ – and where for some, dependent on personal situations and circumstances, the list is expanded to include a few other things as well.

Considering that needs are limited – we may actually be able to satisfy the needs of all the human beings on the planet – and it is known that we can. So – instead of trying to work with ‘wants&needs’ where the task seems impossible and full of ‘sorry’s, we have to draw the line somewhere’ – we could start with the part that IS possible – satisfying everyone’s needs – and only then design an additional system or model that draws lines for ‘wants’. Our current model is one where some are able to satisfy all their needs and most of their wants, while others are not supported in their basic needs – which, you have to admit, is quite an insane situation. Part of why this is allowed is due to… ‘wants&needs’.

Now – this blog is part of my ‘Meconomics’ series – so you can already guess where I am taking this discussion next… For this situation to be as it is – with so few raising their voice and spurring into action to change the status quo – I started wondering how the same point exists within ourselves. The same point, meaning: do we in fact have a clear understanding of the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ inside ourselves and do we approach ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ appropriately in our own personal lives?

True story: Earlier as I was writing this blog and came to the section of clarifying the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ – I first took the easy route of simply looking up the words in the dictionary and copy/pasting the definitions in my blog. But! I couldn’t use those definitions, because they would have perpetuated the confusion between the words rather than clarifying the difference between them. Have a look:







If the dictionary uses the word ‘want’ to clarify the word ‘need’ and uses the word ‘need’ to clarify the word ‘want’ – we can be sure we’re on to something. Does this mean that wants simply imply needs and that needs imply wants – because the dictionary says so? No. Remember, dictionaries will reflect our own language usage – so if the word ‘want’ has been used over time to indicate a ‘need’ – then it becomes an ‘accepted use of the word’ and is reflected in the dictionary as such. In the same way, the word ‘need’ has been used to describe ‘wants’ – and so it has become ‘normal’. What the dictionary then shows is how we have confused the meanings of the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ for ourselves and started using the terms as synonyms.

In my next blog I will continue exploring how the ‘merging’ of the words ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ as ‘wants&needs’ affects and influences us on a personal level so that we can get a better understanding of the world as it exists today within the principle 'as above, so below'.

02 April 2015

Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost – Part 2

This blog-post is a continuation to:
"Meconomics": ME-Economics
Meconomics: Fear of Missing Out and Opportunity Cost



Read the above posts first for context.

In the previous post I had a look at the concept of opportunity cost and how we ‘make use’ of this concept in our language and daily living, or in other words – how the concept of opportunity cost is embedded in our psychological make-up and how it plays a role specifically when we make decisions. We saw that opportunity cost involves a dimension of a sense of ownership towards ‘the road not taken’ – where it then feels that we are ‘losing’ that option when we choose something else. We also looked at the role imagination plays within the creation of this sense of ownership.

So now, let’s have a look at an example of opportunity cost in economics and then take our understanding of the psychological origin of the concept – as how it exists within ourselves – to re-assess the ‘place’ of opportunity cost in economic situations.

Let’s take the example of interest:

“Interest is compensation to the lender, for a) risk of principal loss, called credit risk; and b) forgoing other investments that could have been made with the loaned asset. These forgone investments are known as the opportunity cost. Instead of the lender using the assets directly, they are advanced to the borrower. The borrower then enjoys the benefit of using the assets ahead of the effort required to pay for them, while the lender enjoys the benefit of the fee paid by the borrower for the privilege. In economics, interest is considered the price of credit.”

So, part of why you pay interest on a loan is to compensate the lender for the opportunity cost they incur by borrowing you the funds. The lender’s opportunity cost stems from the idea that he/she could have invested the funds and would have made a profit through investments. When reading this information for the first time it might intuitively sound like ‘it makes sense’ – because as we have seen in the previous post, we can all relate to the experience of opportunity cost. But does it really make sense?

When you’re struggling to decide which shoes to buy and end up choosing one pair over another and you experience a sense of ‘loss’ towards the pair you didn’t buy (your opportunity cost) – who compensates you in monetary terms for that opportunity cost? Do you ask the shopkeeper for a discount as compensation for your opportunity cost, because you could have bought the other pair? You don’t. And in this example we see that it clearly wouldn’t make sense to either.

We understand that when buying something and we have to decide between two options where only one can be taken – that making a decision involves letting go of the other one – it’s simply part of the nature of decision making. Even though we for a moment imagined owning both pairs, we do ‘come back to reality’ so to speak and see that we can only own one and that the other ones are not ours and stay at the shop.

So – why is it any different with lending money? A lender might imagine making a profitable investment on the one hand and lending the money on the other hand. But when it is time to decide – the road not taken is simply that: the road not taken. Once the lender decides to lend the money, it means he didn’t decide to make an investment and so that means he doesn’t get to make a profit either. That was the decision made and the lender could simply take responsibility for their decisions instead of ‘making a financial claim’ to the profits they could have made. Because remember – it’s not because the lender ‘could have made a profit by investing’ that the lender would have. What if, had the lender not borrowed the funds, he instead used the funds to make a really bad investment and lost all his money? That would be equally possible. Should a borrower then be paid a fee of gratitude because the loan potentially prevented the lender from losing his money through a bad investment? Lol – that somehow doesn’t happen.

So – we can ask ourselves why it is okay for a lender to make a ‘real claim’ (meaning: it is expressed in monetary terms, that means someone pays it, that means it has actual consequences on their purchasing power and living arrangements) on a cost that is based in imagination – but in other situations we can’t? Another way to place that question is: why do we allow it? Why have we never questioned it? Is it because we secretly WOULD LIKE TO be compensated for our imaginary losses? Because we secretly WOULD LIKE TO have it both ways without taking responsibility for our decisions?

It opens up even more questions as we look at: how could we do it differently? What other lending and borrowing models could we create? What would be their foundation? Or will we simply keep it as it is and allow such a significant point to be founded on a ‘glitch’ of our own logic?

This topic was also discussed in a Google Hangout – so for more information – check out: