Q&A: What Doesn’t Impress You?
I just don’t care what kind of car you drive, who designs your clothes, or where you spent your summer holiday. It doesn’t matter.
There is an immense pressure from friends, family, and strangers on the internet to conform to a very specific vision of success that involves fancy cars and designer clothes.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s your money, spend it on whatever you want. If you really do find joy in driving a new Ferrari around the block, go for it. If you are in love with the look of a Rolex watch, treat yourself. But don’t do it just to impress someone else or to conform to a narrow definition of success.
I find myself frustrated with our culture wherein countless people go poor trying to look rich by taking out personal loans for a lavish wedding to impress their friends or putting a down-payment on a house that they will never pay off. This new vision of the American Dream leads people to value possessions over relationships and experiences. Everyone wants to be rich, and they want their friends and neighbors to know that they’re rich.
I can’t help but think, however, that this mindset leads to a deep feeling of discontent, and that the materialistic rat race has warped our perceptions of success.
So, what’s the solution?
Let me ask you something. What do you value most?
For me, the most important thing in my life is my family. Sure, sometimes these relationships can be complex, but I don’t mind putting the work in to add happiness and memorable experiences to our lives.
I also value my professional journey. I work hard, and I’m constantly being pulled in different directions. But I love it. It pushes me to be the best version of myself, and I never feel stagnant or stuck.
And I think: what do these two things have in common? They’re sometimes a little messy, a little challenging, but they leave me feeling fulfilled. They fill my life with experiences that I wouldn’t trade for a new car or a fancy designer wardrobe.
So my advice would be to find the good complexity: the things in life that challenge you in the most beautiful way. Then block everything else out.
Blocking Out the B.S.
As an exercise, next time you are browsing for clothes or electronics or furniture, ask yourself: How, exactly, will this thing make me happy? Will it add value to my life or is it only a replacement for something I really want?
On that note, what is it that you truly want? Is it love? Is it professional success? Is it respect? Will this item help you to reach those goals?
If the answer is yes, this thing will add value to my life in the following three concrete ways, go for it! If not, maybe take some time to think it over before taking the plunge and reaching for your wallet.
Obviously, this exercise doesn’t work for everything. I don’t expect toothpaste to help me grow our business, but I need to buy it nonetheless. However, this mindset will help to cut down on the number of items that sit in your closet for years until you finally give them to Goodwill.
Don’t expect that material objects to fill a void in life that is being neglected. What I want for everyone is a passion: an internal fire that sucks the air from the room and leaves you feeling breathless. Trying to replace this feeling with material items is like throwing match after match on a wet newspaper.
While it isn’t possible for most of us to live a completely simple life, and I don’t think that’s what anyone really wants. The key is to look for the things in your life that add value and have an effect that will reverberate for years after the soles of your shoes have worn down and your tailored suit goes out of style. You’ll often find that those “things” aren’t things at all. They’re people and experiences and passions.