We live in a time when opportunities to realize personal fulfillment are limited and diminishing. In the past, our forebears, especially the more distant of these, could depend on two natural sources of personal fulfillment – work and relationship. In our time, however, these ancient wellsprings of true happiness have become all but lost to us. Indeed, what do ‘TGIF,’ ‘twenty and out,’ ‘burnout,’ ‘work to rule,’ and ‘early retirement’ suggest about the nature of work today; what do ‘ex,’ ‘significant other’, ‘chat room’, ‘hookup,’ and ‘Facebook friend’ suggest about the nature of relationship?
In attempting to compensate for the loss of fulfillment in our lives, many of us have unwittingly fallen into a trap: Confusing psychic emptiness with hunger, pleasure with happiness, we have set into motion a vicious cycle, a downward spiral, from which we are finding it increasingly difficult to extricate ourselves.
Using the income we derive from work that fails to fulfill us, we attempt to compensate by pleasuring ourselves, largely through the consumption of material things. In doing this, however, instead of filling the void within, we seem only to deepen it. Around and around we go – down, down we go.
Based on Beyond Chicken Soup: Toward a life worth all the considerable bother, this talk exposes the insidious workings of the pleasure trap and offers us a way out.