We are programmed to solve riddles and explore new things that give us the feeling of moving forward. In modern suburbia it may be that crime shows on TV are enough to satisfy our problem solving need and the confines of a cruise ship once a year does enough for our sense of adventure. Yet there is some expression of the betterment gene in us all. We really like progress.
Our need for progress has morphed over the generations. Not so long ago it was a struggle for equality. We fought against oppression, prejudice and the denial of opportunity, and, for the most part, have made things better.
These issues still linger of course, but all around the world societies mostly do not burn witches at the stake, deny education, a fair wage or the vote. Each generation has seen improvement in these fundamentals compared to times past. So much so that we seem to have lost collective interest in them.
Instead of core benefits, progress of late has been taken over by commerce. We measure ourselves by our access to an almost endless choice of goods and services that we seek to acquire. From the luxury yachts that spend 99% of their time tied up at a mooring, to a kitchen renovation, or even the necessity of five varieties of breakfast cereal in the pantry. Betterment is now all about stuff.
And it is what it is — inevitable really. For when there is no need for struggle people still find a way to do it. Intuitively we know that betterment requires work and sacrifice.
When all our basic needs arrive on a plate instead of channeling our struggle energy into achieving higher things we have settled on ways to get more stuff. This is a pity and perhaps the start of our undoing.
Betterment should really be about our higher selves — our efforts channeled toward awareness, balance and a sense of peace. Stuff would be part of this but not the all consuming driver and measure of how well we are doing.