Walk down any city street, open a website, scroll through your social feeds, turn on the radio/tv and what are you inevitably bombarded with? Promises. Empty promises. Advertisements selling you aspirations that will make you feel good and more whole.
We all know ads aren’t exactly honest and we may do our utmost to avoid them, but the fact is, they work and whether we like it or not, they shape our desires.
Given most of us aren’t about to toss out our TVs or phones, ads and false promises are a reality we’re going to have to live with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take some steps to protect ourselves from being manipulated by them.
Posing yourself a question is typically a good place to start.
How much do the things I own actually make me feel happy and fulfilled?
If that one doesn’t hit home, try this one:
How much do the things I own prevent me from becoming the person I aspire to be?
These two questions are meant to be meditated on, so don’t expect answers to come flooding to you, but if you take the time to really reflect on them they may help you find some life changing perspective.
In the meantime, here are some tips/insights from some people who “have it all” from the world’s perspective.
#1 – Relationships
Famous and successful billionaire investor, Warren Buffet said, “I measure success by how many people love me”. Huh? One of the most successful investors of all time doesn’t measure success by how much he wins, but by how much he is loved?
I feel it is always a useful exercise to imagine myself in my final days looking back at my life: what is it I will value the most? If it is your relationships, ask yourself how much you’re prioritizing them in your life right now.
#2 – Do what you love
Famous skateboarder and entrepreneur, Tony Hawk said, “You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.”
Interesting perspective to be sure. It certainly defies the popular message peddled in the media today that rolling like Kim Kardashian is the way to happiness.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, an epic Abbot from the 11th century once said “what we love we shall grow to resemble.”
We may not always have a choice where we work, but we certainly have a choice how we spend the rest of our time.
Find something you love to do that fills you with peace and purpose and dedicate yourself to becoming better at it. It may end up not only enriching your life, but others as well.
#3 – Be yourself
Bruce Lee once said, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
Wow. That is some cutting and super-relevant advice for us today. I figure one of the biggest problems for most of us is we may not even know who we truly are. We have been conditioned by the media that who we are is not enough, or insignificant, and have been seemingly built to imitate those who the world considers to be ‘successful’.
St. Thomas Aquinas once shared what he felt was a recipe for the salvation of a person:
to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.
– Two Precepts of Charity, 1273
I suppose that is a good place to start. If you can answer these three questions and feel at peace with your answers, you’re far better off than most of us.
The answers to these questions will give us the confidence and purpose to both ‘express ourselves’ and have ‘faith’ in ourselves.
Not time like today to get started on this!
#4 – Take the focus off yourself sometimes
Oprah Winfrey once said, “When people say they are looking for happiness, I ask, what are you giving to the world?”
Sometimes, we get caught up in our own lives and forget that there is a massive world around us in need of kindness, love and people who care enough to make a difference.
You’d be surprised how refreshing helping others can be.
It has been scientifically proven that giving to others can have mental and physical health benefits such as increased self-esteem, less depression, lowered levels of stress and lower your blood pressure.
So, if you can’t put your finger on how you’re making the world a better place, take some time and figure out why.
Changing the world isn’t as hard as many people think.
Every day we are presented with dozens of small, sometimes big, ways we can contribute to making the world a better place. Look for those opportunities and then do the right thing, for yourself, and for the rest of us.