Will That Thing Really Change Your Life?
Will it make you happy? Will it bring you the endless hours of joy that you imagine when you look at it? What thing am I talking about? Well, it's different for every person, but it's usually a material possession that you dream about often. And more often than not, it won't make any real difference to your life at all.
I was pondering this one recently when my family and I took the dog for a walk around a more expensive neighborhood. It was a beautiful evening, the perfect temperature, a slight breeze, and the sun was just starting to set. Ideal weather to be on that big deck in the back yard, sipping wine or ice cold beer and chatting about the day.
But we didn't see anyone doing that. Not a soul.
We saw plenty of beautiful decks, and even more beautiful yards. We looked at these decks with envious eyes, as we've always wanted one of our own in our tiny back yard. And yet, after passing more than 100 homes and seeing not one family out there enjoying the evening, I began to wonder if the deck really would change our life. Or maybe we would be just like these people, all of them stuck inside watching a 52-inch LCD TV.
And that's the crux of the matter I think. For many people, those "things" are an attempt to reach out and live the life they think they should be living. In the case of the deck in the back yard, it's not about a wooden structure that looks nice; it's about spending quality time with family away from the small screen, taking in fresh air and wearing those genuinely happy smiles that you see in catalogs and on TV.
But when it comes down to it, those "things" can't change who you really are or what you really want. Which is why those decks we saw were all empty, and the owners were all inside watching something they really did want: a huge TV.
It reminds me of a story the personal trainer at my gym was telling me. One of the people he used to train had no equipment at home, and complained that if he could only afford a home gym he'd do much better. The other guy was without a home gym, too, but found ways to train. He'd use the stairs, do push ups and sit ups, and do pull ups when he took his kids to the park. He basically used his own body as resistance.
The moral here is that when you want something badly enough, and are motivated, you'll find a way. And if you think that buying something will give you that, you're sadly mistaken. People who want to spend time outside with family will do it, regardless of what's in the yard. A $20 picnic blanket does the job and has served us well for years. Conversely, the addition of a deck isn't going to turn a bunch of TV addicts into the socialites of the neighborhood.
I know people who pined for home gyms and watched them gather dust. And we all have "miracle" gadgets that are sitting in some dark corner of the basement or garage, in pristine condition. Those infomercials make money because they tell you how much better life would be if you only had that "thing." Sadly, nothing you can buy will really fill the kind of hole they promise to fill. I remember wanting a Filofax back in the day, because I wanted to be super-organized and never forget a meeting or a birthday. I paid $80 for it and hardly ever used it. My friend paid $5 for a notebook and organized his life with it. He didn't need anything fancy, he was already motivated to get it done.
I think we all have something we wish for. Maybe it's a better car, a bigger house, or a piece of jewelry. Perhaps it's a boat, or a 200 square foot deck. Whatever it is, think hard about that purchase. As Shakespeare has said often, "to thine own self be true." Do you really want that "thing" or do you just want the idea of what it could bring you?