In prehistoric times—science is finding—affluence was abundant. Affluence was not in the way we think of it today—with an almost compulsive need to have many things either because we “like” them or because we fear we may need them. The paleolithic human didn’t need to have everything, or even less, duplicates of things. There was confidence in the ability to borrow from another (social relationships) or make something on the spot as necessary (self-sufficiency). In modern times, we have lost the ability to have either one of those conditions met. We are increasingly isolated from intimate relationships upon which we can rely on in times of need. And in a world with a store on every corner selling everything from furniture to trinkets, we are no longer capable of making just about anything.
Why do we buy things we don’t need?
We actually don’t buy things, we buy the feeling that we have when we own those things. Every purchase we’re making is emotional. We buy a birthday cake because we like the feeling while sharing it with our loved ones, for example. We never really buy what we believe we’re buying! And being aware of this, trying to be conscious about every purchase we make, could be the first step towards freeing ourselves from this compulsive need to have so many things without any real connection to the self!
So where does that leave us?
Should we go back in time and live like our prehistoric kin? Do we give up all our material possessions and live like monks? Isn’t evolution about moving forward?
The more I read, the more I realize that the first humans may have had a better quality of life. Their weakness was a lack of awareness of this quality. They were so far into it, that I don’t think they could not see it. When other types of technology arrived, such as agriculture, this is why they were easily tempted away from their lives of leisure and contemplation in harmony with nature.
The modern world has lost the connection to nature, and as such our biophilic needs are no longer met. And yet, there is a growing movement of awareness of the need to reacquire our Stone Age Economics. We do this not by limiting what we have, but by no longer wanting what we don’t need. I believe we have the ability today to look at the different options of life and consciously choose which ones we want, something our primitive cousins lacked. Once that choice is made—effectively balancing conscious awareness and connection to nature—no amount of temptation will take us out of that blissful lifestyle.
Could this be enlightenment? Could it be when you consciously choose your priorities in such a way that you want for very little material needs and can spend a large portion of your time in social, artistic, and intellectual pursuits? Maybe reconnecting with our inner selves and with nature around us is the solution?
What do you think, Stone Age Economics or Modern Economics?
Also published on Medium.