We have evolved into species that define respect based on the level of one’s income or possessions.
You can pretty much tell by the questions you’re asked once you’re in a room with people you don’t know.
One of the first questions we seem to ask one-another is the notorious question: What do you do?
And we wait impatiently for the answer, as based on that we will decide the level of respect that person ‘deserves’, the analogy between that person’s achievement over ours, and the level of sorrow we will feel if he/she has achieved ‘greater’ things than we have.
But who defines which achievements are greater than others? Just how high have we set the standard of the so-called good life?
The Problem With Contemporary Ambitions
Quite frankly, in every country we might be living, the percentage of extremely rich people is not large.
Super successful, extravagant people do exist, however, they form a very small percentage of the world’s population, leaving the rest of us able to benefit from a simpler life. And of course, this should not sound as bad as you think.
An ordinary life is actually filled with beautiful, random things we get to enjoy, having more time for ourselves and the people we love.
We are able to take long walks with our dogs, grow our own food and plants, cook that dish we like, have friends over or make the time to read after a long day at work.
These may sound as very basic, indeed ordinary things, but most people with extravagant lives do not really enjoy these benefits, out of a world of sick ambition and irrational luxury.
Now, don’t get me wrong either, I am not saying that having ambition is bad, as ambition is what pushes us to become the best versions of ourselves.
However, the best version of ourselves should not be necessarily stellar. We do not have to be movie stars, or directors or CEOs to have the right to appreciate and be thankful for our existence.
We should be able to differentiate what we really want to do with our lives, rather than rely on society’s idea of success and leave behind the things that make us feel fulfilled.
You do not have to be an engineer nor a doctor, not necessarily if that is something you do not want.
Having a piece of land, a roof over your head and delicious food to eat, combined with well-being, is an extraordinary blessing to start with.
The Age of Meritocracy?
But yet again it is not entirely our fault for feeling confused in what we seem to call nowadays as a materialistic world.
We are confused because the idea of ‘meritocracy’ is being proclaimed, in terms of blaming the people themselves for their overachievements or underachievements.
The media, books, television and movies are all telling us that we can basically ‘achieve anything’ and ‘be whoever we want to be’.
It is tricky to say a belief of the sort is optimistic, as it is rather unrealistic. Most of us are shaped by our circumstances, and we cannot really be whoever we want to be in life.
Yet, when this idea is presented to us, we feel immense despair and we start looking down on everything we have done, believing that we could’ve done better and that we simply are not enough!
That is why we must resist the thought that we have to be somewhere else, doing something better, and find rejoice in the things we have and the life we live, as there are certainly things to be thankful about.
Remember that reputation comes with responsibility, and if you envy a famous superstar life, you may just lose the private and intimate moments you have the chance to enjoy through an ordinary, simpler life.
A Simpler Life
“There are for many of us plenty of options to take up certain career paths that carry high prestige with them.
“We could have something deeply impressive to answer those who ask us what we do. But this does not necessarily mean we must or should follow these possibilities.
“When we come to know the true price some careers exact, we may slowly realise we are not willing to pay for the ensuing envy, fear, deceit and anxiety.
“Our days are limited on the earth. We may – for the sake of true riches – willingly, and with no loss of dignity, opt to become a little poorer and more obscure.” – The School of Life.
Dreaming of a better life, or just dreaming, here is what they really mean…
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