After a marketing class last night a student asked “so, if everything we do is to alter a feeling within us, but we don’t need to do anything to alter our feelings, then why does marketing work and why do we do all the things we do?”
Very good question!
It works because people believe that the path to altered feelings is through altered circumstance. And yes, it has everything to do with marketing, everything to do with life, and yes, it is not at all as it seems. As a matter of fact, it is virtually the opposite of what it seems.
We think, all of us, that in order to alter the way we feel, we must alter our circumstances. An advertisement promises us that if we take a certain action we will be rewarded with a corresponding feeling. We take the action and indeed it works! The problem is that we now must continue taking the action forever if we want to maintain the feeling. This is why most of us spend our entire lives working frantically to alter our circumstances so that we can have a feeling we desire. It will never work.
The good news is that we can change the way we feel without circumstance changing. They are independent. Feelings are not caused by circumstance. Let me say that again, feelings are not caused by circumstance. “Yes” you say. “My dog got hit by a car, so I feel sad.” True, but it was not the circumstance that caused the sad feeling, it was what you think about the circumstance. Therein lies our power, our hope, our only real chance to lead a joyful life. If you did not know that your dog had been hit by a car you would not be sad. It is only when you know, and can think about it, that you become sad. There is nothing wrong with being sad, it is often healthy, but if you are scrambling to get enough love, money, health, power, position, or anything else in order to feel better, it’s going to be a long desperate battle, and in the end you will lose.
The key to not even having to fight the battle is to learn early in the game, that circumstance does not cause feelings and feelings do not cause thoughts. Thoughts cause feelings, and circumstance are irrelevant. The really good news is that whatever your problem, it is a feeling, and no matter how hopeless or desperate you feel, there is nothing outside of you that needs to change in order for you to feel great. Once again, there is nothing outside of you that needs to change in order for you to feel great. Simply change your thoughts, and your feelings must change, regardless of what is going on around you.
In a moment advertising loses it’s hold on you, you care very little what others think, the sun starts shining brighter, and you find yourself feeling infinitely better. And somehow, that I will never fully understand, serendipity seems to thrive in this moment. Time and time again I have watched as people extricate themselves from the illusion of circumstance and find that their problems have miraculously disappeared. This world is certainly not as it seems.