The Philosophy of "To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

How is it possible that some people in our society feel an emptiness inside of them? Or a frustration with their life circumstances? That some are not happy?
Most of us don't have to struggle for survival. We are blessed to live in a rich world in which we have access to great experiences, technology we never had before and own better products than even the richest people could dream of only 100 years ago.

Erich Fromm - "To Have or to Be"

"To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

can give us insight into why that is.
On one level of abstraction, all experiences, whether through the use of some product or through a relationship with another person, are inherently unable to satisfy our deepest desire for unity and happiness.

Through a life-long conditioning we have been programmed to seek experiences to elicit the emotions we like and numb the ones we want o avoid. This misconception leaves us our ability to Be underdeveloped. While some people are naturally more present and in the moment, others are constantly caught up in mental stories, desires, fears and hopes. And therefore living disconnected from the only thing that is actually true. Direct experience. That doesn't mean, thoughts are not part of direct experience, but giving too much meaning to the realm of thought and concept can leave our ability to be present underdeveloped.

What does it mean to Be? 

Does that mean you have to become a monk and leave your life behind? No, that's a complete misunderstanding of what being present means.
Living in the Now, means to become a super-conductor for your experience. It means to grow your consciousness of all aspects of human experience. Including all of the negative emotions and experiences. Being completely present in each and every Moment without resistance is the ultimate goal. Life will then have become a seem less flow of experience in which nothing is inherently good or bad. No pain without resistance.

All day awareness

is the habit I have picked up years ago. The gaps in my ability to experience the richness of life has been growing over the years. Slowly but steadily. It is a skill. That sill, over time, lead to deep enlightenment experiences. Concepts about yourself and the world are slowly starting to fall away. They move from the center of your attention to the edges. And with this steady increase in consciousness and presence, a natural feeling of calmness and happiness seems to arise. Without it being the primary goal.
Setting long-term goal can and will still be part of your overall existence. But your happiness is no longer outcome dependent. Being is the state from which you can truly fulfill your Life-purpose. Indepence from outcome will become your new definition of freedom.

"To Have or to Be" will no longer be the question

At a certain level of consciousness you will clearly see that those are two different things. Whereas you were chasing waves before, you now have become the water. Waves and changes in what is going with the water are still nice, but can't fundamentally change what water is. So is happiness a quality that is on a fundamental level independent of any experience.
Which doesn't mean that your current manifestation as a human being doesn't have certain needs. In fact, those basic needs will have to be satisfied before your mind will even be able to transcend them and open up for higher States of consciousness. The model of Maslows hierarchy of needs still applies.