We live in a convenience culture. Marketers want us to buy on emotion, looking for easy, quick and cheap fulfillment of our desires. Go to the store, watch TV and be saturated with stimuli asking you to just reach out and grab what you want, telling you that will give you satisfaction right now.
It can become quite easy to believe that relationships should be as easy as buying products. They should satisfy instantly, without any hard work or confusion. If we don’t get what we want, we can complain, throw the relationship away and quickly move on to the next product to try.
There is a name for these quintessential consumers, those looking for satisfaction without having to do hard work.
We call them slackers.
Slackers are clear on what they want, on what they deserve, and when they don’t get it, they always find someone to blame. This could be the idiot behind the counter, their family, management, or the entire global system. The only thing they are absolutely sure about is that their failure to be satisfied isn’t their fault.
As consumers, slackers know that other people have the responsibility, the obligation to satisfy their desires and whims, so when they feel anything other than satiated, someone else is to blame for their sad dissatisfaction.
This sure knowledge that they live in the midst of idiots and losers relieves slackers from having to do any hard work, to do anything at all that moves them out of their comfortable zone of blame and indulgence. After all, if the world won’t work hard enough to even satisfy them, why should they have to work any harder than others?
Slackers understand that they are the victims of a system that does not satisfy them, a system that only makes idiotic demands that won’t make them happy. Their victimhood relieves them of any responsibility to move out of their comfort zone to create change, any requirement to lead.
Slacking is, in the end, an imbalance of the satisfaction system. If you don’t know what is really satisfying, instead replacing it with products and thrills you can buy over the counter, how can you ever break the cycle of slack?
It’s hard to convince slackers, though, that any fault might lie within their own understanding of what a satisfying human life should include. If they aren’t being satisfied, it’s because someone else screwed up or deliberately tried to hurt them, not because their own settings for satisfaction are out of whack.
Slacking is so taken for granted in our consumer culture that many find it impossible to believe that their feelings are about what is inside of them rather than about the external stimuli that triggers those feelings. It is much easier to blame the stimuli than to do the hard work of understanding and unwiring our own feelings, struggling to own that moment of conscious freedom between stimulus and response.
The satisfactions of a hand made life are often incomprehensible to a dedicated slacker. From tuning an engine to ritual loading of a weapon to mending your own clothes, those can seem much more trouble than they are worth.
The delights of creation, of minimalism, of precision and detail have always been a crucial part of the joy of living a human life. There is deep satisfaction in doing something hard with quality, which was well known to those who lived before the age of easy, machine made abundance.
It is very difficult to engage gratitude when you don’t directly understand the value of satisfaction with process rather than with product. When you see things as disposable, always looking for newer, better and more sensational, you miss the details of work and thought that go into the best of what humans can create.
If you have a very strong idea of the way that you believe things should be stuck in your mind, you will find it hard to see the delights in the way that things are. It doesn’t matter how you got your ideas — from romance novels, reality shows, magazines or even porn sites — they all act the same when stuck in the slacker mind, turning even the best surprises into disappointment that the world isn’t the way you want it to be.
Education is what we get when we don’t get what we expect. Only by opening ourselves to divine surprises can we develop the awareness and discipline to see how we can better approach the next challenge we face in the world. Moving out of our comfort zone is the only way to mature and grow, not stuck in assumptions and demands but engaged in possibilities beyond our limited imagination.
The slacker mind finds the idea that something beyond their current view of the world may be better and more satisfying. Instead of opening to the stories and views that challenge theirs, they are drawn to those who reflect their own biases and assumptions. Their cognitive bias lets them see what affirms their current beliefs and rejects what challenges and makes them uncomfortable.
A convenient life is not a rich, surprising, textured life that will create character and growing awareness. A convenient life is a small life, a closed in life, a life that is only one step away from a tragedy to be ripped open. There is a reason few people can get to the end of a life and still be a slacker, because most humans experience a real broken heart, most humans find something that they have to get outside of themselves and really fight for.
People who complain that the world is not delivering on what they deserve, who are waiting for others to make them satisfied and happy, are living in a world of blame rather than a world of responsibility. As they stay externally focused, they cannot look inward and see where they hold unhealed bits that block the kind of joy and satisfaction that has always taken good, vigorous, healthy work.
It’s great to want spiritual growth, but if you only want it if it comes in your favourite flavour off the shelf at Whole Foods, you are not going to find it spiritually satisfying.
The fault, as someone once said, is not in our stars, rather it is in ourselves, however inconvenient that is to acknowledge.