Monday, March 21, 2011

The dangers of great expectations

Photo by David Shankbone
I firmly believe in the importance of expecting great things from yourself. Too often people just quit because it's too hard or they think goals are given, not earned. I find that level of apathy irritating.

Yet it's interesting how we can expect so little from ourselves and so much from the things that make up our daily lives. I think comedian Louis C.K. sums it up well.

I'm guilty. I'm always so caught up in matters of money and trying to keep up with the Joneses, but I never stop to ask why. Why do I want this particular thing? Do I really want it? Do I really need it? Or do I just think I do because that's just what people do?

I honestly don't know. I'm not sure if happiness comes from personal satisfaction or the accumulation of stuff. If I had to guess, it's probably both.

Most of the purchases I've made that truly contribute to my happiness have led to self-actualization through connections to others.

I've spent a ton of money on music equipment, but it opened me up to a whole new world of creativity and connected me to a social group that would have otherwise been completely alien.

I've spent a ridiculous of time consuming college sporting events, but they've enabled me to bond meaningfully with my father.

I've spent a lot on video games, but through the power of X-Box and the Internet, those games became kind of a social network that helped me stay connected to friends miles away.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can foster creativity and connectedness, and to me those are the roots of happiness.

In the end, however, I think we'd all be better off if we expected as much from ourselves as we do from the often unnoticed technological miracles that surround us daily. Without such expectations, how fast I can download music from iTunes doesn't really matter.

Now to see if my stupid phone can download that fart noise application. Then my life will be truly complete...

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