In a world of scarce resources, inequality and environmental meltdown, there are some things it’s no longer worth being impressed by.
If we want to see a fairer, happier and more peaceful world, we need to re-evaluate our measures of success.
Here are six things we should no longer be impressed by:
With so many people left homeless by war and environmental disasters, it seems wrong to be impressed by the size of someone’s house. Not that there is anything wrong with having a large house. However, the warmth of a person’s welcome is more important to me than the grandeur of their entrance hall.
2. Designer labels
We all know that even the most expensive designer labels can use pretty unethical practices, including unsafe working conditions and the use of child labor. I admire ethical clothing choices more than designer labels. Buying a quality product that lasts is more important than branding. Bring on the charity shop chic!
3. Dollars in the bank
Don’t get me wrong. Poverty sucks and I am all for having a healthy bank balance that contains an emergency fund for when things go wrong. The same goes for a sturdy pension plan or a college fund for the kids. However, there’s no need to keep piling up financial resources after the point of security has been reached. With millions of people living below the poverty line, it just seems a bit awry. I am more impressed by someone’s kind heart and the good that they do in the world than by them flashing the cash.
4. Prestige cars
Ideally, we would use cars much less, as they are so harmful to the planet. However, they are a necessary evil for most of us. That said, having the latest, most expensive car is no longer something to be proud of. The resources it takes to produce a new car are mind-boggling. Add to that the pollution that car will cause and we should really stop being impressed by them at all. I think a reliable car that will give years of good service before needing to be scrapped is more impressive. Even better, a second-hand bike – although I admit I’m unlikely to ever achieve that myself.
Technology is a good thing. It saves lives. That said, when piles of perfectly good technology end up in landfill, just because they are a year or two out of date, we have a problem. When you think of all the non-renewable resources that go into making TV’s, laptops and cell phones, then having the latest iPhone, laptop or TV doesn’t seem quite so cool anymore.
6. Social Media
Using social media can make us unhappy and envious, so I’m not too impressed by how many digital friends anyone has. A study by University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross last year found a direct correlation between time spent on Facebook and feelings of dissatisfaction, loneliness and isolation. I’d rather cultivate a few deep, meaningful relationships than spend my time seeking retweets and likes.
We are also guilty of double standards when we blame advertising for presenting only unrealistic images of perfect bodies while simultaneously photoshopping our own lives for social media. We know that images in the media can have a detrimental effect on body image, particularly that of girls and young women. With that in mind, I am not really impressed by the enhanced images I see on social media.
Making conscious choices
While there is nothing inherently wrong with having any of the things above, I think it’s important that we make conscious choices about how we behave and what we consume. There are other measures of success we can use, like happiness, contentment, kindness and creativity. For me, those are traits worth genuine admiration.
We’d love to hear your views on alternative ways to measure success.