Senior lecturer in psychology, Leeds Beckett University
Dr. Steve Taylor is senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, and the best-selling author of several books on psychology and spirituality, including The Fall, Waking from Sleep, and Back to Sanity. Eckhart Tolle has described his work as “an important contribution to the global shift in consciousness.” Steve was recently included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the “100 most spiritually influential living people.” www.stevenmtaylor.com
The people who have the strongest desire for power tend to be the most ruthless and least compassionate individuals. And once they possess power, they usually devote themselves to entrenching, increasing and protecting their power, with scant regard for the welfare of others.
There is no doubt that medications can sometimes be beneficial, particularly if they are used sparingly and temporarily. But it is scandalous that hundreds of millions of human beings around the world are suffering addiction and adverse reactions to powerful psychotropic drugs which give them no benefit.
At my university, we have developed a questionnaire to try to test for these different types of purpose. We would like to find out if there are relationships between different types of purpose and age and gender. For example, do different types of purpose become more important as people get older?
Interestingly, women were the main "breadwinners" in hunter-gatherer groups. Anthropologists estimate that women's gathering provided around 80-90% of groups' food - a fact which has led some anthropologists to suggest that these peoples should be renamed gatherer-hunters.
Many acts of kindness may be motivated by self-interest. But is it naive to suggest that 'pure' altruism can exist as well? An act of pure altruism may make someone feel better about themselves afterwards, and it may increase other people's respect for them, or increase their chances of being helped in return at a later point.
There are many ways of understanding human well-being, but perhaps the most simple and useful is to think in terms three different approaches. In other words, if you want to find happiness, there are three different routes you can take.
Is this really what we were born for? Is this really what life should be about? Of course, if you're lucky, you might have a job which is fulfilling, which suits your innate interests and skills, and which you find challenging and stimulating.
So many of us strive so hard for material success that you might think there was a clear relationship between wealth and well-being. From school onwards, we're taught that long term well-being stems from achievement and economic prosperity - from 'getting on' or 'making it', accumulating more and more wealth, achievement and success.
In my view, acquisitiveness is best understood in psychological terms. Our mad materialism is partly a reaction to inner discontent. As human beings' it's normal for us to experience an underlying 'psychological discord', caused by the incessant chattering of our minds, which creates a disturbance inside us, and often triggers negative thoughts.
The ideology which terrorists are fed aids this process too. When people take on a belief system, they begin to see the world in an abstract, intellectualised way, rather than through direct perception. They begin to see the world in terms of concepts and categories, developing a dry and rigid outlook which becomes so powerful that it divorces them from the immediacy of experience and contact. It encourages them to see other human beings not as individuals but as units in an abstract, conceptual and deadly game.
I'm not a big football fan either, but, as a psychologist, I'm aware that the game carries a lot more weight than may be at first apparent. In fact, I believe that the world as a whole has a great deal to thank football for, because of the social and psychological benefits it has brought over the last 100 years or so.
16/06/2014 14:40 BST
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