Why do our lives so commonly feel out of control? How can our motivations reveal how our mind really works? Swedenborg & Life host Curtis Childs spoke at the Conference for Consciousness and Human Evolution to untangle these very questions.
When Curtis started struggling with major depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, he found a need for spiritual tools and new mindsets that could help him. The combination of existential dread, fears, and negativity gave him no choice but to find better solutions.
His toolkit centers on the three universal categories of motivation: love of our self-image, love of sensory gratification, and love of usefulness. The way these things interact and how we prioritize them dictates everything.
The nature of our love determines the nature of our life and in fact our entire nature as a human being. (True Christianity §399)
Love of our self-image is the belief that the highest joy in life comes from power—imagine, for example, someone who uses eco-friendly products because they want to look good to others.
Love of sensory gratification is all about pleasure and enjoyment—this would be demonstrated by someone who gets involved in an eco-friendly business in order to be exploitative and make money.
Finally, love of usefulness is about doing things because they help people—being useful in this sense would be, for example, to use eco-friendly products because you care about the ecosystem and the people who enjoy it. This viewpoint can be freeing, because you’re not worried about how you look or about how it feels; you’re just concerned with how it helps.
So how do these loves help us break out of the web of our minds? Well, in order to get a better idea of this, it helps to think about how cells work inside our bodies.
There’s something special about how our bodies work. Every cell in the body works together for the good of the whole. Well, what if the human race worked like that?According to eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg, that’s exactly what heaven looks like.
It is a secret not yet known in this world that heaven, taken in a single all-inclusive grasp, reflects a single individual. (Heaven and Hell §59)
Getting to that kind of world means getting your priorities straight. If you put love of usefulness first, the other loves will be satisfied and will fall into place. It’s important to understand that the other loves aren’t necessarily bad—they just aren’t especially helpful.
Seeing self-image and sensory gratification as secondary joys doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy them. It means you recognize them as you’re chasing them, and then you ask yourself if you’re taking the most useful route.
For every one of your stresses, there’s a way that focusing on usefulness can cut through the noise.
After Curtis’s talk, there was a short Q&A. The questions are transcribed below; follow the links for the answers.
- Who was Emanuel Swedenborg? What did he do?
- If somebody is depressed, how do I help them?
- Any advice for how to be kind even when struggling with my own traumas?