“What truly adds value to my life?”
If you only take one thing away from today’s article it’s this very question. It helps you to avoid one of our society’s biggest traps.
In my article about redefining success, I introduced you to Jack. Jack was a prime example. This topic is so important to me though that I wanted to dig a little deeper today.
Isee it over and over again in our society. The ongoing pursuit of happiness. We all want it, we all need it. But so often it’s done wrong.
Society has created this illusion of happiness through monetary success and the introduction of social media has enforced it to an astonishing amount.
We’ve created this fake world that resembles nothing of reality. Everybody knows it, but almost everybody still falls for the trap. We see the lives of others, how they portray themselves and think that this is what happiness looks like.
Yet we forget two important things:
- We only see the best parts of their lives
- Almost everything is altered to show us an even better version of reality.
So we try to compete with this fake reality. We want this happiness that we assume of other people, forgetting their lives’ problems because we only get to see the good parts and then compare us to them.
We see celebrities posting pictures of Instagram, smiling in front of their fancy cars with their fancy jewelry and adapt these pictures as our definition of happiness, because, well… they look happy, so they must be happy, right?
On the other hand, this showing off gets an incredible amount of likes, which again leads to confirmation that this is what happiness must be.
It’s an ongoing loop that reaffirms itself.
We made money our god.
“Maybach… a very Chanel Christmas”.
Oh, this caption. How eloquent and profound.
Goethe and Shakespeare are shaken by fear. There’s a new sheriff in town.
How accidental that the bag is placed on the hood… “Look what I just bought”.
But what would come from someone who makes a living writing lyrics like:
“I was born to flex (Yes)
Diamonds on my neck
I like boardin’ jets, I like mornin’ sex (Woo)
But nothing in this world that I like more than checks (Money)
All I really wanna see is the (Money)
I don’t really need the D, I need the (Money)
All a bad bitch need is the (Money flow)”. — Cardi B in “Money”
But what’s most amazing to me is that a post like this get’s over four million likes.
It’s basically two trained dogs (Hah! What a reference!) jumping through hoops asking for people to clap for them.
Yet indeed, this is what we define as happiness these days.
Mad world, we live in.
Escaping the trap.
These fake realities are so omnipresent that it’s hard to even avoid them at all. So what we need to do is look through it and discover the actual happiness it veils.
What so many people are doing is mistaking recurring Dopamine rushes for a profoundly happy life.
People fall for the trap of buying things all the time because of how our brains are wired. We feel a rush of excitement. Dopamine is sent out in our neurons and we get a good feeling.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t last. Many, many studies have shown that by now.
If you buy something, you are feeling happy. But that happiness quickly starts to fade away over time. So we need to buy something again to also get that Dopamine rushing again.
This whole problem is further enforced by the fact that all advertising agencies know this and your personalized advertising on social media is based on precisely this Dopamine rush.
Basically we are being sold our own neuro transmitters. Funny stuff, right?
So what can we do?
First of all, it’s important to realize that that’s the case.
- People buy things because they get a Dopamine rush and mistake it for happiness.
- Other people mistake their portrayed happiness with true happiness and want to mimic them.
- Therefore they also buy stuff they don’t need and get those small doses of Dopamine, making the same mistakes as the very person they assume to be happy.
Round and round goes the carousel.
What we need to do is ask ourselves the very question I stated at the beginning before buying something or thinking that we want to buy something.
“Does this add value to my life?”
If not, it’s probably not worth buying.
What value would you get out of a Maybach or a Chanel bag? In what way would your life truly improve?
You’d still be stuck in the same traffic jams and you would still carry the same items in your bag, wouldn’t you?
Yes, some people just have f*ck-you-money and can buy everything without a second thought. Well, good for them. They can enjoy the fruits of their labor and/or luck. We should never begrudge them their money because envy has no place in a profoundly happy life.
I wished for these people to spend their money on something that brings value to other people’s lives rather than buying more hollow possessions to show off with, but it’s not up to me to decide what others do.
It’s up to me though, what I choose to spend my money on. And it’s up to you to choose where your money flows.
If you buy a fancy sports car that you never take to the track and you don’t have enough money to quit your job tomorrow and never work again, you’re probably doing something wrong.
I don’t want to generalize here. Some people get true value out of a sports car. But most people don’t. They buy it because they want to have it.
When I worked my job as an anesthetist I always asked myself the questions:
How long do I have to work to afford a certain thing? Is this thing truly worth this time?
If a certain time had passed and the answer was still “Yes”, I’d have happily bought it. If “No”… well… you know the answer.
If you have spent your money wisely and generated enough passive income to never work a single day again, this question is more easily answered with “yes”. If you are at that point in your life already: Congratulations.
Just make sure you still reevaluate if you truly value this item and your money wouldn’t be spent better enriching the lives of others.
After all, happiness doesn’t come from buying things.
True happiness comes from creating value for your life and the lives of others so we can all grow and advance together.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not in any way suggesting to live like a monk here. By all means, if you want something and can afford it, buy it!
Just make sure that:
- You’re not doing it for the Dopamine rush.
- You get true value out of it.
- You can actually afford it.
There are tons of people out there who could afford a Maybach and a Chanel bag. But they are smart enough not to because it would mean they’d have to expand their working lives by another 10 years in order to make that money back. See what I’m getting at?
Financial intelligence is something I’ve been passionate about for a long time now. I plan to dig deeper into that topic another day. For now…
Let’s come to the conclusion.
Here’s the take away for today:
- We live in a fake world. We all know that. Social media is no reflection of reality.
- Advertising knows this and sells us our own neurotransmitters.
- We need to stop spending our money on Dopamine rushes and spend it on things that add true value to our lives.
- Don’t fall for the trap to mistake Dopamine rushes to true, profound happiness in your life.
- True happiness comes from creating value for yourself and others.