“Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
How much television do you watch in a day? If you’re an average North American, you sit in front of the boob tube for over 4 hours in a 24-hour period, or approximately 30 hours a week. When you’re not watching TV, you might be reading the latest magazine or newspaper, or surfing the internet.
While there’s nothing wrong with any of these things in moderation, the amount of mass media you ingest every day can have more of a negative impact on your life than you realize. Listening to your intuition becomes impossible – like trying to have a conversation at a deafening rock concert. In the midst of your distraction you may forget that you even have inner guidance. And worst of all, when the external world becomes more influential than your inner world, you succumb to the influence of cultural spells.
A “cultural spell” is a thought or belief held in the collective mind of our culture that isn’t true. Cultural spells have a negative impact on our lives because they cause us to “chase our tails” and prevent us from attaining the very rewards they promise (feelings of happiness, contentment, love, acceptance, and success).
You can only break a cultural spell’s influence upon you by becoming aware of it. Once you are aware of its’ influence, you can decide whether you want to continue feeding your power into it or not.
The most common cultural spells associate a feeling of contentment with an achievement in the external world. Here are three of our most common cultural spells:
1. Material Wealth brings Happiness
Most people believe that an increase in their income would make them happy, but even Princeton scientists have stated that the link between money and happiness is “greatly exaggerated and mostly an illusion.”
Material wealth does NOT lead to happiness; happiness leads to happiness. If you can’t generate a sense of joy from the present moment, a Lamborghini is not going to help. Happiness is a natural state of being that stems from aligning your thoughts with who you really are.
There is nothing wrong with material wealth (bring it on!), but it isn’t the answer to your problems. The answer to your problems is found in transcending all the limiting thoughts and beliefs that prevent you from expressing your true Self.
2. A Perfect Appearance brings Love & Acceptance
One of the most common cultural spells tells us we all need to fit in and look a certain way in order to be more loved and accepted by the outside world. We all want to look good, because we all want to feel good. Who doesn’t want to be loved and accepted?
The problem is that the industry feeding us this nonsense is on crack (literally). The average female fashion model is 5’11 tall and weighs 117 pounds. The average North American woman is 5’4 and weighs 140 pounds. I think it’s safe to say that the media’s idea of how we should look does not reflect the norm.
The bottom line is that if advertisers can convince us that we’re not ok as we are, we’re more likely to spend our money on the clothes, diets, makeup, or handbags that strive to attain that perfect image.
A perfect appearance will not bring you love and acceptance. You’ll experience love and acceptance from others only when you have mastered the art of loving and accepting yourself. People will be drawn to you because of how they feel when they are around you, not because of the size of your jeans. If you’re hanging out with people who DO only care about the size of your jeans, it’s time to make some new friends.
3. Hard Work is Necessary for Success
The unconscious need to work hard in order to prove oneself is deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness. Many people have been trained to think that success only comes to those who work hard. Success DOES come to those who work hard, but it also comes to those who work “easy”.
The most successful people I know are not the hardest workers. Yes, there is action involved, but it’s never “hard”. The most successful people line up with their success on a vibrational level first and allow their action to be inspired from within. Inspired action feels joyful, not difficult. Yes, successful people may pour many hours into their passion but most proclaim that the time flies by. The most genuine success does not come from “hard” work; it comes from INSPIRED work.
If you’re more comfortable perpetuating the thought that success comes from hard work, please continue. But realize that from this point forward you’ve been exposed to a different way of thinking, which states “success is easy”. Your reaction to that last sentence is an indication of how deeply affected you’ve been by the cultural spell that states otherwise.
The only reason anyone ever strives to achieve or attain something in the external world is because they think they will feel better when they reach it. But what if this formula is backwards? We are only beginning to understand that the path to genuine happiness and success is found by learning how to generate happy vibes first and then allowing our outer environment to follow.
What cultural spells are you under?
I couldn’t agree more. I stopped watching TV and reading newspapers and magazines a few years ago. I’m much happier because of it.
I find it interesting how we can escape this cultural spell and create our own reality online. I find myself living in a completely different world – because that’s what I look for. Thank you for contributing to my world. 🙂
Love it, especially the last point you make about hard work being bullshit 🙂 Some people just love to be martyrs and hate it when others enjoy life seemingly effortlessly. The whole hard work is needed for success thing seems to be a way of creating slaves.
As for TV, I gave it up for pretty much the same reasons you mention. It isn’t called the “idiot box” for nothing. TV thinks for the majority of people. 🙁
Good choice of subject, if I may say.
This would be the field where our little family made the most progress: I personally watch 1 hour and 18 minutes of “TV” each day, but those are actually chosen documentaries and movies on DVDs. And when I say chosen, I literally mean it. We don’t watch movies with violence or action movies, but romantic movies or comedies (Bollywood helps here!). It leaves only a fraction of “real” TV to watch. And after 2 years of this regime, you REALLY notice the difference: we get irritated as soon as after 5 minutes of TV news or commercials, ’cause now we can see what an insult for human mind they are. We listen to online-radio to avoid commercials and haven’t bought a paper or magazine for years.
Downside: when you talk to people, you cannot find any common ground with them anymore, as they all whine and complain about their lives and this planet going to hell.
There are 2 choices: you either confront them and get that blank stare from them, or just nod and get to hell out of there a.s.a.p. Special problem are family meetings where they perceive you as a cuckoo on a highway to the nearest institution.
We increasingly tend to look for friends with similar values, and there’s the catch: most of them are online, and you don’t get to meet a lot of them in person.
But, hey, that’s how I became friends with KB!
Thanks for the comments, guys!!
@sasa: Love you Sasa! We are so on the same wavelength.
I too have experienced making a difficulty connecting with people but just like you, I’ve found extreme joy in seeking out like minded individuals. I haven’t met a ton in my city ~ many of them are online… but I’m still so thankful for these wonderful and supportive friends (like you).
Very good points – I gave up watching TV ages ago. Nowadays I can’t stand it. It’s such constant noise, like they don’t want to give you a moment so that you can have an independent thought in there. It’s like the anti-meditation.
Spells 1 & 2 I’ve had down pat for a long time, but #3 I am still working on resolving. Thanks for the reminder. Happily I’m feeling things really flow recently in these arena too – it’s lovely <3 I can't wait till I am rich and comfortable and financially free just by joyfully expressing who I am deep down as I was born to be… I can really feel it.
Lovely to meet you by the way, I saw your photo and I knew I liked your energy! 🙂
Wonderful article Karen…I haven’t watched a newscast in forever because it’s all such doom and gloom. I do still have a few favorite shows, but am trying to balance them with TV off time. Your points 1 & 2 are ones I’m working through at the moment – especially the physical appearance one. I’m currently not happy with my weight and know I’m projecting that outward. Thanks for reminding me that even as I move toward a body I’m more comfortable with there’s no reason not to love myself fully for who I am right now.
Thanks for sharing these ideas! You are right about how we tend to follow misconceptions about love, happiness, success, etc. For me life is very simple: We should live fully aware, full of love, doing what we love and loving what we do. Anything else that we are not able to do, should be stopped. We have the chance of choosing right now.
All the best,