The latest and greatest

2011

In addition to the latest flu strain and the myriad of other illnesses that people suffer from these days is another malady - neophilia - defined by Merriam-Webster as a "love of or enthusiasm for what is new or novel".

Most of us have a strain of neophilia in our personality and it is undeniable that some degree of neophilia makes the economy run and spurs innovation. However, it appears that more and more of us are suffering from a far more deadly - even incurable - strain of the "need for something new" disease.

While neophilia is not a new disease, what is new is the increasing numbers of people who suffer from an obsessive desire to experience whatever is NEW. Recent Japanese research shows that for some reason the word "new" arouses the same part of the brain as does an addiction disorder.

From clothes, to cell phones, food to cars, from religious and spiritual practices to leadership and management fads, from social networking to beer, people seem to be obsessively drawn to the "new and improved". The curious question, of course, is why?

Many people erroneously equate "new" with "value" (not valuable but value). Advertising, marketing and commercialism has brainwashed the vast majority of us into believing that new is always better, more important, of greater quality or of greater value.

On the other hand, there are those who are not taken in by the "new". Many people – and some cultures – honor and appreciate the old because it possesses a sense of character, symbolic value and a connection to wisdom. While the new is often fleeting, ephemeral and tends toward quick "value evaporation", the old serves a deeper, more grounded way of maintaining relationships and connections with history, time, people and culture.

It's evident that much of modern life lacks soul or the core connection that we knew as value. Today's value is much more superficial, meaningless and soulfully lacking. Today's value is more about appearance rather than substance, the external devoid of the internal, the surface image as opposed to intrinsic worth. All too often, net worth is the imposter for self-worth.

Many today view their world with their eyes wide shut, with a soul that's been blinded. The fact is that it's not about new vs. old, but about moving beyond the superficial and appearances. When we spend time connecting with our life — our relationships and our possessions — from a soul perspective, a place of centeredness, quietude and depth, then we can orient to the world in a way that allows us to discern what's true and real.

Some questions for self-reflection

  • What value do you get from the material possessions in your life? What fads do you track regularly? What "new" does not have any charge for you?
  • What things and people in your life possess real character and uniqueness? Why?
  • What aspects of your life are wrapped in the superficial? How does this affect your relationships?
  • Does constant obsession with the new ever get old? Honestly.
  • Do you ever feel "out of the loop" because you don't have the newest? How so?
  • Do you ever feel shallow, or worthless or value-less?
  • What was "new" like when you were growing up? Did you ever feel deprived when you were growing up? Do you now?

When our physical eyes connect to our soul, a genuine intelligence arises that allows us to look deeply as we seek to know the true value and worth of every person and every thing that is part of our personal experience.

The underlying pleasure of the soul for that which is fresh, creative and vital has been usurped by the shallowness of novelty and the attendant brain-washing for what is "new", "improved" and "must have" (only three days left!).

Orienting to our world from a soul perspective guides us to look through this hollowness, fakeness and hype. From this place, we have the possibility of experiencing the true substance, value and meaning not only of our own lives but also the lives of others.

"Know thyself," said the old philosopher, "improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the eternal progress beyond." [Edward Bulwer-Lytton]

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About The Author

Peter Vajda
Peter Vajda

Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D, C.P.C. is a seminar leader, workshop facilitator and speaker. He is the founding partner of True North Partnering, an Atlanta-based company that supports conscious living through coaching, counselling and facilitating.