At 30 I’ve had to look back on my life and determine if there’s been any progress made. It’s therapeutic for humans to feel like they are progressing even if the progress is small. In my personal case, I can say I wasted much of my 20s dating all the wrong women, drinking too much, and not getting serious about my business endeavors. They say your 20s are for making mistakes and your 30s are for getting stuff done and implementing everything you’ve learned. I do feel I’ve wasted a lot of time on activities that were not building me up. I also feel I learned a lot of valuable life lessons.
It does feel like sometimes you should be farther ahead than you are. Especially with social media we are constantly bombarded with the highlight reel of others and judge ourselves based on the achievement of friends and celebrities on Instagram. Society sets the standard for where you should be at various milestones of your life and social media constantly reinforces how someone else is always doing better. This is deeply ingrained in societies like Japan where work and progress are values held above everything. Suicide rates in Japan are extremely high second only to Korea. Japan does not have deep roots of Christianity and does not consider suicide sinful. Rather, suicide is an honorable solution to bringing shame upon their family. Talk about a constant mental load.
Perhaps your family or your significant other nags you about where your life is going. Even though they care about you this constant Chinese water torture of nagging begins to weigh heavy on your soul. Depression sets in and you find it even more difficult to motivate yourself. Life events like break ups, family deaths, and financial disasters can further crush you into the ground and kill off any hope of further progress.
There’s been days and weeks where I say to myself, “I’m just a loser. A biological dead end going nowhere.” I think about my entire carbon footprint and how my life impacts those around me.
If you don’t tread carefully down this thought loop you may find yourself contemplating something serious like suicide. Do not entertain thoughts like these.
What helps me through these darker periods of time is a few basic understandings of progress and achievement. Ultimately, we seek things like financial wealth and relationships to fill a deep void within our souls. The reality is these feelings of fulfillment are rarely long lasting. Getting a raise or a sudden windfall of money might give you a week of elation before you fall back into your old patterns of feeling inadequate. Money only gets you so far. I do recommend everyone have a minimum 6 months of savings in the bank and work towards adding as much value to the marketplace as possible. But beyond a certain point money stops providing the same boost. The fact that there are countless cases of miserable people with money is a testament to this fact.
I use to tell myself the same thing with relationships “If I could only find a girlfriend my life will be complete.” Inevitably, I would find and date girls and still, this level of incompleteness was there by my side like a constant companion.
The things we think we want always fall short of the expectations we set for them. We look to others and outside forces to fill our own cup when we can learn to be grateful for what we have, continually hone our skills, and slowly increase our value to ourselves and to others.
Imagine for a second standing flat on the ground outside and then rocketing above the atmosphere where you clearly see the entire shape of the earth.
All of the problems we have are so small in the big swing of things yet we magnify them to great proportions.
In time we will be washed away along with everything we’ve done under the sun whether we’ve made progress or not.
##Photo is me smoking my pipe.
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