People think that living in a privileged country is better than living in a developing nation. We have luxuries here that no one else has. We have technology that exceeds what human hands and minds are capable of achieving. But what we don’t have, that developing nations flourish in, is community. Well, we do have it, but not nearly to the extent that other not-so-privileged nations do. But that’s because that’s mainly all they have going for them.
They do away with the stress and anxiety that comes with always having the latest and greatest thing on the market. They aren’t presented with the opportunities to always shoot higher, so they don’t stress out from the failures of not beating their neighbors at whatever they are trying to excel in.
In America, the price people pay for the opportunities that are marketed to them is increased stress and feelings of failure. After all, the greater opportunities we have, the more stressed we become when we make a mistake along the way and hinder our chances at reaching these fantasized goals. We are pressured to have higher paying jobs than our neighbors, date more attractive people than those who surround us, have nicer cars than all our friends, and get more likes on social media than anyone else in our feed.
Speaking of social media, it’s the main thing that is perpetuating these feelings of failure. We watch how awesome everyone else’s lives are except our own. There is always someone doing something cooler than you, getting more likes than you, going out with more people than you, going to more places than you, buying nicer and more expensive things than you, etc. It’s an infinite reminder of the millions of ways you will never be good enough.
But when you’re looking through your friends’ lives, just remember that being special, isn’t so special. Because the person you are comparing yourself to, is comparing themselves to someone who is doing better than them.
So many people idealize their ultimate goals and think, “If I just had X, I would be happy.” The problem with this is that whatever “X” may be, once you get there, there are still going to be problems, just to a different variant than the problems you are dealing with now. And what happens once you reach those goals? Then what? You will eventually reach a plateau. Why do you think so many millionaires and celebrities come out with depression? It’s because they already have everything in life they could possibly want and now they’re dealing with having an excess of it and still feel unfulfilled. Even with that much money, with that many cars, with those big of houses, with that many likes on social media, with that many people always wanting to be around you, they still feel frustrated, they still have problems, they still feel lonely, and they still feel like they could be doing more.
This is exactly why wanting something is better than having it. If we strive to reach a goal, and set ridiculously high standards for ourselves, we become better people through learning through our failures. That, and it serves as motivation to do better, but still be happy with what we have or how far we’ve already come. It helps us realize what we really want in life and what we are willing to sacrifice and go through in order to get there. Whatever “X” might be for you, it is a fantasy. We dream of being that rockstar, that CEO, that rapper, that actor or actress, etc. because all we see is the final product of it. We don’t see the process and what it took to get there. All we see is the dream of being that famous with that much money and being that “successful” as it is defined by society’s standards. But those fantasies and goals, we typically don’t envision them coming with problems. And that’s where the main issue lies… fantasy doesn’t have negative side effects, reality does.
People want wealth and status without risk or delayed gratification. But when you consider your real dreams and aspirations (I mean the ones that are truly obtainable for you so that you can still maintain your sense of self and happiness in your life), you need to ask yourself, “What am I willing to suffer for this? What pains am I willing to entertain in order to get what I want?”
You want to be an entrepreneur, but are you willing to piss off a lot of people to get there? You want to be in a solid relationship, but are you willing to deal with the disagreements and differences between the two of you? You want to run your own company, but are you willing to go through the sleepless nights of trial and error and risk being in debt for several years?
You have to not just want the dream, but want the process as well. You want to be able to say you got to the top of the mountain? Well you better love the idea of trudging up that mountain with a 50-pound backpack in flip flops while tennis-ball-sized chunks of hail are smacking you in the face. Because that’s what you’ll have to go through to turn your dreams into a reality… and then once you get there, there is no longer motivation once you already have everything you’ve ever wanted (on the flip side, there will just be one more mountain after the other and in that case, you’ll never be fulfilled).
It’s too easy to ask someone what they dream of having or achieving in life. The better question is what are you willing to do or sacrifice to get what you want in life? If you simply want the fantasy of living happily ever after with boat loads of money, tons of friends, a perfect partner, a rockin’ bod, etc., but aren’t willing to put in the hard work to get all those things, then you are just idealizing a fantasy simply because you enjoy wanting something.
If you know you aren’t willing to put in the hard work to get where you want to be in your fantasies, then you need to find happiness in what you ARE willing to sacrifice and the goals THAT will earn you. And even if you are willing to climb that mountain in flip flops with a 50-pound backpack while hail is smacking your face, once you get to the top, do you have a next step? Will you be happy forever once you reach the top? Are you still willing to deal with more hail and more weight while climbing even higher mountains? Because if you aren’t, perhaps you are better with simply having dreams to motivate you. Not comparing yourself to others, of course, but simply being happy with what you have while always striving to do better to maintain happiness and never reach a plateau. Simply grow in contentedness.
Sometimes wanting something gives you a purpose to work harder, and for some, they are perfectly happy with never reaching the top, but instead, camping out midway and enjoying the view from there, seeing what happens next, and just going with it.