Of all the things you can be in this world…
There are many self-help programs and posts online these days.
Programs to help you lose weight, to help you eat more healthily, to help you to sleep more soundly and any number of other self-improvement opportunities.
By all means, buy into these if they work for you and you find value in them, but take care not to get caught up in the hype.
The one thing that all these programs say to me is that you are not enough. You are too big, too slim, too inactive, too dehydrated, too stressed, too tired, too old.
Society is incredibly judgemental, great at telling us what we aren’t but not very good at celebrating what we are.
While it seems that this may be a relatively recent phenomenon, and perhaps has been amplified with the advent of mass communication, I believe there have always been people trying to influence how we should feel, and in doing so create an opportunity to make a dollar out of our insecurities.
Ever since the invention of the newspaper, there has been a need to sell advertising space, and advertisements by their very nature are trying to separate us from our hard-earned money. Even before newspapers and mass advertising people have been trying to sell us products that claim to remove our insecurities.
The snake oil salesmen of travelling shows selling all manner of potions and elixirs, some of which may have had some benefits, but many were simply designed to lighten your wallet or purse before they moved on to the next town. Many of the sales techniques used in today's modern world are similar to techniques used by the confidence tricksters and charlatans of old.
Advertisers try to tell us how their product will address our insecurity, and if we don’t have one, they will manufacture one we didn’t know we had, just us to create a demand for their product.
I have been in sales most of my working life, albeit, technical sales within niche industries, but the rules are the same. Sometimes your customers may not yet realise that they need your product, and as a salesperson, it is your job to convince them that they do.
You don’t always win the argument, but people are more likely to buy something that they can see will add value or make their life easier.
That is quite straightforward when the product that you are selling might help detect faults in factory equipment or demonstrably improve output by improving the workflow or production rate. There is little or no personal involvement for the decision maker, it usually comes down to dollars, or rather the effects on future savings or future revenue for the company. These sales are transactional as they rarely rely on an emotional engagement on the part of the buyer.
Contrast that with the myriad of products that are designed to make us feel better or look better. From cosmetics to clothing to self-help courses, most of the people buying these products are making an emotional purchase, whether we admit it or not.
Even as someone fully aware of the tricks and techniques that advertisers use, I still occasionally give in to them and will make purchases from an emotional motivation. Not every purchase solves an insecurity.
There are times when putting on nice clothes or enhancing your appearance with cosmetics may make you feel significantly better, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But try and remember that feeling better about yourself often comes from within yourself, from living life in harmony with your core beliefs, rather than living from the compliments and feedback of others.
Fashions change, beauty styles change, and they are not universal. Different countries and different cultures have different ideas about how people should look. These standards also change over time. What was considered healthy and desirable 50 years ago is quite different to what people consider desirable today. Rather than trying to chase an ideal that is constantly changing and evolving, often to unrealistic and unobtainable standards, try and be comfortable with yourself. Stop trying to be thin or beautiful by other people's rules, try and be confident and strong.
The older I get the less I try to do the things that others tell me I should do, and the more I do the things that make me happy. The only downside to this strategy seems to be that I find most advertising increasingly annoying and irrelevant.
For me, it is not so much the material things that bring me joy. I find that simple things like spending time naked in nature or enjoying time in the company of people I like are the moments that make me happy.
There are a myriad of yardsticks by which society tries to judge us and any number of things society says that we should be.
Of all the things you can be in this world, be happy.
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy”
- Lhamo Thondup, the Dalai Lama
Thank you for reading and have a comfortable day.
Hi ho, It’s off to work I go.