Now picture Y overlapping X. Let’s say the resources required to maintain X fall within X (function) and everything else is excess.
Financially, as an example, you may only require 85% of your income to maintain your lifestyle/sanity/capabilities etc. This is your function. Whatever you have access to that is over this amount is your excess and represents that which you can go without and not be significantly or even identifiable worse off because of.
Why does this matter? Remembering that how you respond to hunger is more important than being hungry, how we spend our resources is more helpful to measure than the resources themselves. Failure to do so can too easily blur the line between edification and gratification.
As aforementioned, when gratification decreases personal capabilities it’s also decreasing our excess (as ‘function/x’ determines ‘access/y’). For this reason, when it comes to spending resources, Edification aims to ensure resources dedicated to maintain function aren’t wasted/spent on other/useless things. Edification involves intentionally stopping expenditure while it remains in excess, before it begins to enter into function’s resources/capabilities. This ensures that the individual can at least maintain momentum/growth. Gratification however, is indifferent. The more we’re fuelled by gratification, the less we care about what it costs us, even if that includes our own function.
Speaking from my own experience, there have been numerous occasions where after arguing with your mother, I’ve been stuck in a cranky mood and while there, it’s “to hell” with everything. “To hell with my packed lunch, I’m buying something delicious. To hell with our budget, I’ll spend what I want. To hell with keeping the speed limit, I’m snapping that throttle every chance I get! Ninja wheelie time!” Most people can relate. We can all get fiery in an argument and ‘venting’ appears very normal. But how often do we question what’s really going on inside? What’s happening psychologically? Biologically? What needs are we trying to meet but responding to in strictly gratifying ways? If you’re like me (and you very likely are, sorry to say), we’re well aware what we’re doing isn’t good for us. We’re fighting against our own goals. If we know it’s not advantageous, why still engage in it? ‘Why we intentionally gratify’ is something I’ll address later on in ‘Proactive Self-Destruction‘. For now, suffice it to say, we want to edify: we want to make sure our ‘spending’ doesn’t cut into our basic function.
It is much like an investor who refuses to live on any more than a portion of the interest and reinvests the rest, preserving the capital. Under this model, the individual is capable of consistent and permanent growth. When the investor is willing to put a portion of capital greater than his excess on the betting table, he risks losing that capital and therefore decreasing his future function and resulting excess.
Gratification not only makes us dysfunctional, it often involves doing so willingly: Intentionally spending both excess and function’s resources. Spending itself isn’t the problem. Spending the resources that were dedicated to maintaining our own function, on less important things, is the problem, especially when done so willingly. We shouldn’t spend so much that it comes at the cost of our own function, especially consciously. If we do, it’s not just us who pays, everything and everyone that is reliant on our function, will also start paying that price.
- How often do you feel like you’re struggling just to ‘get by’?
- How often do you feel that you have ample surplus energy to contribute to your goals and those around you?
- When have you spent so much on something that it started making you dysfunctional?
- Burning both ends of the candle? (Spending too much sleep time on other things)
- Over-sleeping? Over-eating? Over-exercising?
- Spending so much time at work that you’re becoming short/impatient or rude with the spouse or kids?
- Unappreciatively utilising relationships so that they burn out?
- What or who is reliant on your ability to function?
- Your work? Family? Friends?
- How confident are you that you know when to stop, appreciating that if you continue investing in something it’s going to start coming at the cost of more important things? Do you feel self-aware enough of your strengths and weaknesses that you could specify and elaborate on each?