I'm back with the latest food for thoughts post, quite limited today with two articles, and approaching from two very different angles, the idea of inner values and the importance they have in our lives.
On the Huffington Post // Be Who You Want To Be
"...you can always cultivate the qualities that are important to you, whereas you may not always be able to make a living doing exactly what you want to do."
When you ask children what they want to be later, answer often comes in terms of career (you know, firefighter, astronaut...), however, once "later" has come, reality reminds us that we can't all be doctors, famous baseball players or Nobel winning scientists.
With the economy crisis, the question has become even more vivid, as the promise of a great job automatically following university graduation has proven hard to fulfill for many students. What to do then? We can depress over not having managed to become an astronaut (or in my case, a writer - although in this case I can make the time to be a writer even if I don't make a living of it).
Or we can change the question: instead of defining ourselves soleley on career path, ask the broader question of who do I want to be? This is a very interesting perspective, because it includes the qualities we want to develop, skills, cultivating social relations... In other words, it encompasses our whole self, instead of narrowing down the idea of identity, and success, to career only.
"Now, imagine for a moment a world where an entire generation took the view that it is more important that they determine who, not what, they want to be when they grow up. Some would still become baseball players and astronauts, but they would engage their work with the values that are most important to them."
It is also a way to live according to our most inner values, give the most of ourselves and make the most of what we have, of who we are. It is a way to be happy despite the current situation, despite living in a consumerist society, as it makes us aproach everything, from work to consumption, activities and social relations, within our priorities and in line with our most important inner values.
On BuzzFeed // Something Borrowed, Something Blue
This article, on a completely different subject, details how the brand Madewell has been bought and relaunched recently, capitalizing on the idea of "authenticity" as a marketing angle to sell their products to consumers hungry to "go back to the roots".
"Madewell as it stands today has almost nothing at all to do with the company founded by my great-grandfather almost 80 years ago. How many vintage labels out there have similar stories? How many corporations are out there rifling through the defunct brands of America’s past like a bin of used records, looking for something, anything, that will give them that soft Edison-bulb glow of authenticity?"
The interesting part of this article, to me, is why are we so attracted to this idea of authenticity, going back to the roots, whereas we certainly would never accept to live the life people really led at that time, and we'd never wear the ill-cut uncomfortable clothes they wore at the time. It is a case of "it was better before"? A refuge in older values in the face of the incertainty of the future?
Marketing has certainly been playing on the trend lately, but what really interests me is why is it trendy in the first place? The other day at the BHV, I realized all the fancy home maintenance products (even baking soda and all) were packaged in a 1950s way - and brands like Benefit for example base their whole packaging and graphic identity on "oldie" packages as well.
"To sell a product today, a company must also sell a story, a transformation. A new pickle company needing to differentiate itself can’t simply rely on people needing to eat (agrarian), or undercutting the competition on price (industrial) or convenience (service). The way to sell that jar of pickles is to tell consumers about how it’s an old-country recipe from the Romanian hills, using heirloom cucumbers grown upstate and fresh dill from the factory’s rooftop garden, and it was crafted only two miles from here in a facility that used to make No. 3 pencils."
In this article, the author explains in part this tendency with a phenomenon I also learned at school: our societies have evolved from agrarian to industrial, to service, to experiences. Today, as consumers, we are looking for expriences, stories, when we buy objects. It may circle back to this idea that, in today's society, what we buy defines who we are - or who we want to project to be to others. And it's certainly easier to buy products with an authentic packaging than to actually lead a simple, "authentic" life. Whatever "authentic" really means.
In any case, this article is a good food for thought regarding what motivates us as consumers, and, to me at least, a good reminder to live by my values, and not just buy objects which identity is marketed around said values.
That's it for today's food for thoughts, centered around inner values and motivations. It is hard sometimes, in today's society, to know who we are, who we want to be and where we want to go - influenced as we are by our culture, external expectations and social pressure. And it is always easier to buy our way into an image of who we want to be, rather than trying to live by our inner values.
However I think we can be much more content with our life, accept hardship and setbacks with much more resilience, when we can have this inner strength of knowing that we acutally live by our values and make choices and take actions in line with ourselves. Easier said than done though don't you think?