Physical hunger is probably the most common hunger we all identify with and as such I’ll start here to illustrate some edifying vs gratifying principles.
When we’re physically hungry we want to consume food. Some food is good for us, some bad, and some in between. If one gratifies their hunger by eating junk food, one is still capable of eliminating the craving but does so at the cost of imbalanced nutrition – perhaps too much of something (like sugar or caffeine) or perhaps too little of something else (like vitamins or minerals). If one edifies their hunger by eating well and ensuring their body’s receiving the specific nutrients required, it usually costs more energy, time, focus and self-discipline to make it happen but such ensures you’re better off in the long run.
Only eating good food will help build and improve your body’s capabilities. Eating junk food, especially consistently, not only does not improve your body’s capabilities, but can damage and handicap it. When you gratify, you participate in ‘filterless consumption’ and the unfiltered waste matter slows you down, blocks you up and starts to consume your otherwise functional system. Gratification consumes you. Edification improves you.
So eating right is better for you. We all get that, even if too many of us still ignore the fact and frequently resign to gratification regardless. We eat delicious cream-doughnuts and honey-comb Wendy shakes, but most of us know we’re gratifying ourselves when we do so physically, even if we wouldn’t use those words to describe it…
However, one thing that I fear too many of us don’t appreciate, is when we gratify our other hungers. Mental, emotional, spiritual, or social hungers, for example, are also edified, satisfied or gratified on a regular basis. The point I’m trying to stress is that most people are much less aware of their gratification in these areas. The vast majority of the things we hunger for in life have little to do with what we have for lunch yet too many of us are spending so much of ours lives in habitual gratification as if in a deep sleep, heavily desensitised to it. Having an inkling in the back of our minds of a better way due to memories of days when one felt much more genuinely alive, yet simultaneously energy & focus bound as if completely unaware that it’s our gratification that binds us.
When we get home from a slow day at work and want to entertain our minds, what do we normally find ourselves doing? Consciously looking for literature or study programs that increase our mental capability? Or perhaps just settling for whatever looks good enough on TV at the time?
When we’re feeling disconnected and want to catch up with other people, what do we normally find ourselves doing? Meeting up with family, phoning old friends? Or perhaps just settling for whatever likes we can click or tweets we can follow on social media?
I very highly doubt that the majority of people in the world realise that when they settle for filterless consumption to address any hunger, they are still gratifying themselves, and can do just as much or even more damage to themselves than when they do so physically.
Most people appreciate that junk food is bad for us, but I feel as a society, we greatly undervalue how damaging things like junk news, junk media, junk relationships, junk ideology, junk theology and junk entertainment etc. can be for us. I don’t exclude myself from such ignorance. There have been and continue to be too many examples of gratification in my life. The struggle to change that however, is real.
For example, it’s odd to think that I could be worse off from reading the news than not, but lately there have been a number of times when it’s just been so full of gratifying content, I’ve walked away simply feeling ‘consumed’. An attempt to be informed (edifying hunger) resulting in feeling more dysfunctional (gratifying result). It’s kind of like asking for some porridge and then being showered in a trough-load of pig gruel. It is unwise to trust the common media producers or anybody else to sufficiently ‘filter’ for us. Most have little to no interest in using an edifying filter. We must wear that responsibility for ourselves, in every aspect of our lives.
Our days are filled with choices. So many that far too few are even made consciously. That leaves immeasurable opportunities to blindly gratify ourselves than we appreciate. Whether we are making decisions consciously or not, a lack of awareness provides little saving grace to the negative effects of gratifying choices. Simultaneously however, those choices and opportunities don’t have to end in gratification. In another post I speak about how we gratify by default, but that doesn’t mean we have to. We can take the time to consciously exercise our filter to produce edifying ends. Doing so will provide us with more power to direct our lives for good than most of us realise. Those results will of course be multiplied when we consciously aim to do so more frequently and more consistently.
I hope that through appreciating our many hungers we’re better able to identify the many small and simple ways we can choose edification in our daily lives. Each desire, each craving, each yearning, dream, goal, aspiration or response, are all opportunities to increase or decrease the effective use of our edifying filter and in turn, change the habitual nature of our lives. I speak from personal experience when I say that through intentionally practicing edification even with a small degree of consistency, we very quickly glimpse how limitless our capabilities can become as our gratifying nature becomes more unfamiliar to us.