We can cure capitalism

19 May, 2017 24 views 1 likes

We can cure capitalism – Part 1 – Diagnosis

Whether you are on the receiving end of our capitalist system or whether you are struggling, you probably see that the pressure on many people is growing day by day.

If you are wondering why so many people are feeling lost, why so many people are exhausted and frustrated in today’s society, the diagnosis is simple: we have built a system of work and money that doesn’t fully align with the things we truly need…

What do we need?

Face it, chances are you haven’t given this much conscious thought. Science has though: emerging research from the fields of behavioral economics, positive psychology and cognitive sciences are able to paint a clear picture of those things we find valuable, what drives the quality of our lives

There are 21 building blocks to our happiness, and they can be bundled into 5 large dimensions.

1. we all want to survive
2. we want to feel at ease
3. we are social beings so we want to connect
4. we want to grow
5. we want to be part of something bigger

Why do we work?

If you would ask people the question “why do you work”, you would often get the answer “to earn enough money to pay the bills”. And that is obviously true, in our current system we have linked money and the financial security that comes from this with work.

There are 3 other reasons though why people go to work. And guess what, they connect back to the things we need.

We go to work because we want to connect, because we like to have a coffee with colleagues and discuss the latest TV show, we go to work because we want to grow, learn and apply our talent in a challenging job. And we also go to work because we want to contribute to something bigger, and what better thing to contribute to than the mission of an organization?

Where our system goes wrong

Our current system is failing us. It overemphasizes our need for personal growth, competition and efficiency. As a consequence, our current system increasingly fails to deliver the financial security we crave – people lose their jobs because of globalization and robotization – and at the same time we have thrown the potential for true connection and purpose under the bus. 

The symptoms? They are abundantly out there. One in two people in Belgium expects to burn-out at a certain moment in their careers.  Over the last 10 years, the number of people in the EU that are without work for an extended time or have a job but still live in poverty, has risen by almost a third.

Add money to the mix

Money, the second ingredient of our system, does strange things to people. It impacts our motivation, our health and our happiness. Our monetary system is built on debt and scarcity, two things that are psychologically far from neutral. In the EU alone over 10.000 people committed suicide because of financial problems after the 2008 financial crisis. Studies from researchers at Stanford and Berkeley showed that our debt based, scarcity driven monetary system hurts the brain development of children as young as 18 months.

Where does that leave us?

It seems we are stuck right? Stuck in a system where we need to work more and more and struggle to receive less and less, all this with a big bag of debt on our backs, pushing us down.

The good news is that it will be our generations who will decide whether we will use our economy and technology to improve the quality of our lives or whether we’ll sacrifice our happiness for the sake of economics.

And there is more good news, we don’t need a revolution, we can start small.

Coming next week:

Part two – Explore 4 types of solutions we can deploy. 

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Categories: Feel at ease, Financial Security


Social entrepreneur. Sat in the UN Security Council for his country Belgium, age 23. Started his first company age 25, ran it to 7 figures by age 29. Organizer of TEDx in Leuven, friend of M.I.T.

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