|Donegal, Ireland 2014 // Personal Picture|
When we make choices - whether it is purchasing the right object, where to go on vacation, where to live, or even what career to pursue - we often base our decision on comparison with other people, with what is "normal" to do. But what choices would we make, if our most important criteria was "is this a satisfying choice for me?"
When I was in my late teen years, I often went to attic sales/flea markets of sorts, to gather cheap home items after I moved into my own place. One day, we went to an attic sale with a friend and her mother, and I remember finding a very beautiful japanese engraving, but it was expensive by attic sales standards.
And I remember the advice my friend's mother gave me: "Regardless of this being an attic sale, do you think it is worth 20€?" She asked. "Can you afford it? Do you really like the painting? Is this painting, and its price, satisfying for you?" In other words, she was advising me to consider the purchase through my own needs and eyes - and not according to the environment or how much I was supposed to pay for it under the circumstances.
I found it to be very valuable advice then, and I still remember this anecdote now, because I think this reasoning can be applied to virtually any life choice, and not just attic sales purchases. Instead of comparing with colleagues, old classmates, what society considers to be success, why not recenter the debate on ourselves and wonder: regardless of the environment, is this satisfying for me?
How many times do we make life choices because that's what we are supposed to do? How often are we unhappy with what we have because we are supposed to have more? This goes back to the concept of living our lives by default - following the path we are supposed to follow, without really asking ourselves if that is satisfying for us.
We may have the potential to be very happy with a certain collection of items, appartment, life partner, job or salary, but under the pressure to always aim for more or better, end up unsatisfied with what we are lucky to have, and run after always better, always newer.
We may even make choices which are not satisfying for us, because that's what we are supposed to do. And we don't ask ourselves enough - what do I want to do? What does really make me happy? Look at your life now - what really makes you happy? You spouse, children, career, travels, craft or art...?
That may be the beginning of the answer to what is satisfying for you. And you may end up shunning that job promotion opportunity, or settle for an unknown brand instead of buying the it-bag like everybody else. But in the end, if that is satisfying for you, then little else matters.
There is no success, no failure, there is just life, opportunities and choices. Choices to seize the opportunity, or to let it pass. Because refusing to choose is a choice. Staying cosily into our default lives is a choice. But is this satisfying for you?