We hear a lot about how much other people are worth in the news. We hear about crazy diets and how quickly whichever flavor of the week lost their baby weight. There are endless snapshots of seemingly perfect bodies on luxurious vacations that most of us will never have the opportunity to enjoy. Well-crafted ads appeal to our subconscious need to be a part of the tribe in an effort to keep us wanting and therefore spending.
But, most of this (mis)information that we are bombarded with is simply a form of elaborate distraction. It is designed to make us forget about the people and things that really matter in favor of what we must buy because everyone cool is doing it. The media (quite successfully) tells us that we are not pretty/smart/strong enough if we don’t have a certain product. We are even convinced that if we simply don’t have or do something we are out of the loop and therefore not part of the real human experience.
Unfortunately, our obsessions with what the media tells us that we need/want/have-to-have seems to actually be making life worse. In fact, it seems that when our mothers used to ask “and if so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” the honest answer should have been yes.
We have no problem buying a $600 iPhone, but balk at the idea of paying an extra $2/lb. for meat that came from a farm where the cows were treated humanely and not pumped full of antibiotics. We don’t have time to cook dinner at home, but have no problem waiting 2o minutes in the drive-thru line. We complain about the NSA and the government are infringing on our right to privacy, but freely give away our most private data to Facebook without batting an eye. More people vote for American Idol than for the President and then are confused when the country can’t get its act together.
It is so ingrained in the societal mentality that things and convenience are the most important and that the only way to be worth something is to have brand-name this or that, that even people living in poverty sometimes choose to invest what money on stuff, rather than investing in themselves in an effort to help break the cycle of poverty.
But why? If this system is so good, why are we fat, tired, depressed, unsatisfied and lonely?
Neither the answer nor the solution are simple, but it is quite obvious that we are all focusing on the wrong things.
This needs to change. We need to focus on ourselves and the truly important things in life. Our health, our happiness and our relationships with those around us. These are the things that make us human – the things that give us our true sense of self-worth. We need to take the time to say please and thank you. We need to think before we act and treat others with respect – even if they are completely different than us. The long-term consequences of our actions need to be considered before our actions are made.
This is investing in ourselves.
Of course, this is not easy, but very few things in life that are worth it are easy. I am taking the first step in my life. I am switching to locally sourced foods (as often as possible…there are no bananas growing in Berlin, but I don’t want a peanut butter and beet smoothie in the morning).
It will mean eating less, but better. It will mean really thinking about how I spend my money and even my time. It may even be hard because I loveee to eat. But, I want this and I know that it is better in the long-run. I know that I am worth the investment.
So tell me, what do you want? How are you investing in yourself?