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Did 5-Hour Energy try to trick us?

Updated on July 4, 2016

But that's Olmec, not Toltec, author guy...

According to Don Miguel Ruiz, modern-day shaman and author of The Four Agreements and long-time energy drink enthusiast (I might have made up that last one), when we are awake "there is a material frame that makes us perceive things in a linear way. When we go to sleep we do not have this frame, this boundary, and the dream has a tendency to change constantly." Ancient Toltec wisdom for you 21st century folk.

What does a 90s kids' game show have to do with energy drinks?

We'll get there, trust me. First let's look into this whole dream business. In a dream, all of reality's rules and laws are out the window. Impossible events are constantly occurring. We cannot predict what comes next. Nothing is tangible and anything can happen. Well, Mr Ancient Shaman Ruiz, here in America (or whatever country you're reading this from), wee need to be awake to read, and waking life is governed by tangible things. So, of these things, what is necessary and what isn't? Shelter is essential for survival, along with whatever technology we need to obtain food and water. Without these we die. They are an absolute necessity. At the other end we have superficial objects, material goods that we own or strive to own for reasons other than survival. While there is nothing wrong with owning things we don't need, a problem does arise when we become dependent on them. While we can't depend on a gold chain or a Ferrari to nourish us, we can become convinced that they can make us happy. This convincing is not all that hard to do, just look at how advertising works with a product we're familiar with, 5-Hour Energy. Here's a commercial of theirs:

I can't believe you made me watch a commercial

I'm sorry, dear reader friend. Now onwards! In 30 seconds we are told that Focus equals victory, confidence, power, life. We see people competing and dancing, a man victorious atop a mountain, and a happy woman swinging, smiling and jubilant. Each image is different from the next, the novelty making them easier to remember. The repetition convinces us that what we're being told is true. The advertisement ends with "5-HOUR ENERGY IS FOCUS." We have just been presented with a truth, or rather the advertiser's version of the truth. Here's their logic:
A = Focus
B = Victory/confidence/power/life/achievement/dancing/smiles
C = 5-Hour Energy
If we accept that A = B and A = C, our brains learn to associate an energy drink with victory, confidence, so on and so forth. B must equal C. This doesn't happen only on TV screens, it happens on billboards, magazines, newspapers, and every time we see someone believing and acting on an advertiser's truth. It's not just energy drinks being sold, either. It's a certain look, a style, a way of life, a type of body, a brand of clothes or car. Becoming convinced that these things will make us happy and satisfy our needs narrows our pursuit of happiness to the pursuit of material goods.

But I love my gold chains and rap music

Me too, trusted reader, me too. But what do we need to buy gold chains and other shiny things that blind us? Money. How do we make money? Perhaps we get a degree, maybe a few, a Masters or a PhD so we can start making the big bucks. Or perhaps we embark on a new career that requires us to slave away while we climb the rungs of its never-ending ladder, sacrificing priceless moments and hours of our time so we can buy that gold-plated iPhones and diamond-crusted Ferrari.

You tempt me with wondrous things

That was not my intent. But regardless! What if we devoted our time and resources into exploring our passions instead? What if we disregarded how much money we would or wouldn't make? What if we gave more attention to cultivating our INTERESTS rather than hoarding STUFF? What if we stopped buying things we don't need and invest that money into ourselves, into our hobbies, into time to pursue our passions? All of a sudden we liberate ourselves from our culture's cult of materialism. We would earn lasting satisfaction through doing what we love by rejecting the superficial quick-fix rush of dopamine we get each time we buy something. Next year could have more in store for us than a predictable set of classes, or the same daily grind at a job we don't love. New avenues to success might arise in a most unexpected way. What once seemed impossible may now look very attainable. A world of opportunity would begin to unfold. It would be like waking up to a beautiful dream.

But that commercial told me if I buy their drink I can climb mountains

And I talked about shamans and dreams. Two contrasting ideologies, to say the least. So what are our options when presented with a truth? We can blindly accept or blindly reject. Both embrace ignorance. Or, we can challenge what we see and decide for ourselves if what we are being told has merit.

So who do you trust?

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