Few things in life deserve the attention we give them.
Most of the shit we concern ourselves with is rarely as important as the importance we give it. It’s just noise. It distracts us, it steals our focus and it robs us of our energy. While our attention is focused on the stuff that doesn’t matter, we lose sight of what does.
As a society, our values are being influenced by the media and advertising. The average person is exposed to nearly 5,000 ads each day! All of that advertising is working. We’ve become obsessed with wealth, material possessions, and celebrities. But these things are all just noise, and we don’t need any of it to have a happy life.
All we need to live a happy and fulfilled life is to ignore the noise and focus on what brings value to our lives. We need a purpose, not another product. We must simplify.
It’s time to focus on what’s valuable, and ignore the rest.
Other People. Stop worrying about what your friends, family, or complete strangers think about you and your life choices. The opinions of the vast majority of people you encounter in life don’t matter and have no impact on your life. Those people who do matter will love you for who you are.
“You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” ~ David Foster Wallace
The Joneses. It doesn’t matter what your neighbors own or where they vacation. Your neighbors aren’t there for you to compete against. It doesn’t matter if they have a new car, designer clothes, or send their children to a private school. Focus on what matters to you. Stay true to your values, and never sell yourself out just to “keep up” with someone else.
Gossip. Talking shit about someone else says less about them than it does about your own flawed character. Confident people don’t need to gossip. Consider your own shortcomings and work on improving them rather than using someone else’s misfortunes to prop up your ego. Engage in more meaningful conversations.
Celebrities. Society is obsessed with celebrities. So much so that there’s now a psychological disorder called Celebrity Worship Syndrome. Why do celebrities deserve so much of our attention? The answer is simple. They don’t. We should focus the attention we give to celebrities on our family members. Do you know more about the life of your favorite celebrity than you do about your father or mother? You might be surprised by the answer.
Fashion. Keeping your wardrobe “in style” is an exercise in futility. Fashion is fickle. Avoid the trends and chose styles that are timeless. Do you remember how sexy you looked in that trendy outfit ten years ago? Dig out some old pictures and ask yourself whether you’d be seen dead wearing that same outfit today. (I’m guessing probably not.) Be stylish but don’t worry about being in style.
If none of this matters, then what does?
Happiness. Being happy doesn’t mean you’re in a constant state of joy. True happiness comes from an internal sense of satisfaction and a feeling of contentment. While buying a new gadget might bring a momentary sense of fulfillment, that feeling is fleeting and never lasts very long. This is why happiness cannot be found in material possessions.
Health. When you’re healthy, the last thing you’re concerned with is your health. The moment your health is gone, life changes. And it can happen in an instant. It only takes one diagnosis to change your life forever. Don’t take your health for granted just because you’re healthy today.
“Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering – an image of death.” ~ Buddha
Family. Our families provide us with a sense of belonging, and are a consistent source of comfort and emotional support. And while computers have given us the ability to keep in touch more easily, nothing can replace the experience of gathering together as a family. Spend as much time together as you possibly can.
Love. Being in love is the most intimate connection a person can make. You trust your partner without question, you share your most intimate feelings with them and you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable. There is no substitute for being in love, or for being loved by another person.
Community. We share this world with more than 7 billion other people and each of us has a responsibility to the communities in which we live; to make it a better place, to look out for our neighbors, and to help those in need. We all need to do whatever we can to make this world a better place than it was when we got here. Volunteer at the local library, pick up trash while you’re out for your daily walk, smile and say “Hello” to people you don’t know.
Everything else is noise. Do your best to ignore it.