Friday, September 13, 2013

How to be happy in life. By me.


OK, maybe not the buried kernel of truth that someone should have reasonable expectations in life and should do everything in their power to make things happen. But everything else is terrible.

It's terrible to deride as "flowers" and "unicorns" what most people call "a decent, minimum standard of living."

It's terrible to encourage Millennials to lower their expectations, when not only have most done that already, they were pretty much born into that mindset anyway.

It's terrible to reduce happiness to a static equation.

To say nothing of the acronym the writer employs, which is a racial slur to millions of people.

As someone who has two liberal arts degrees and has often struggled professionally, I'm more than used to smug comments about how I should have chosen a more lucrative field, and unsolicited advice about how I can become more like what they envision a successful person to be. In their minds, people who aren't like them are unmotivated and deserve to suffer until such time they decide to be motivated.

The thing is, I've never wanted to be like anybody who thinks like this. I don't begrudge them or their success, but I like being me. I don't buy the idea that life is all about wealth and status, or that hard work and riches are always directly correlated. 

Let's talk about motivation. A mother with a GED working two full-time jobs to feed her children is highly motivated. I'm motivated to excel in everything I do — my writing, my career, my friendships, my self-improvement — regardless of the financial reward involved. The people pushing the cruelest absolutes about success are motivated by a fat pocketbook and ego. Most people are brimming with motivation in some form. 

The question is, are we as a nation ensuring that such motivation is properly channeled? Are we making sure that anyone who wants to work can work, and that such work will pay off? Are we taking these, well, revised life expectations and aiming to meet or exceed them? If not, why not?

Many who push the it's-all-hard-work view actually don't want it to work for everyone, because that would cut into their pie, as well as dampen their sense that life is a competition that they're winning. Also, it's tough for them to contemplate the reality that hard work works for some, it doesn't for others and that some inherit success through pedigree and family fortunes.

All of this is why I believe that people should always aim high, pursue their passions and — regardless of circumstance — live their lives as best as they can. Money is important, but it's only one thing. You are so much more than what you do to pay the bills (though if you luck into something you love, that's great too). You are a human being. You deserve credit and decency, and shouldn't have to wait until you're 65 to enjoy life. Who knows if you'll make it there? So live a well-rounded life now, never stop fighting for your dignity and forget what the hyper-judgmental capitalists think.

Ultimately, they may just be jealous.

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