Like most red-blooded capitalists, I like nice things and lots of them. And like Veruca Salt from “Willy Wonka,” I not only want them—I want them now.
Is my life just fine without them? Absolutely. Would I be less happy if I actually got every material thing I wanted? Without a doubt. Do I want these things anyway? Only when I’m being honest.
But here’s the rub—even though I realize that my wants bring only a short-term sense of gratification before I go lusting after the next thing on my wish list, I seem unable to stop myself. What’s worse is that this superficiality goes against everything I claim to value, at least when I’ve detoxed from my most recent exposure to retail.
I exasperate myself with this behavior because I really can say without a doubt that I know my goal is to reach the end of my life – hopefully a long, long time from now – sure that I have brought love, joy and a dash of wisdom to the people who knew me. I want to be remembered as someone who brought a little light, both in word and deed, to this often heavy feeling world of ours.
So if my end game is all about my relationships with people, why on earth am I letting myself be distracted by visions of granite counter tops dancing right out of my head and onto my cabinets?
I realize how ridiculous my shallow desires are when I imagine people coming to my funeral and standing up to say a few words about me. The very idea that one of these people would rise to say how much they admired my car, my clothes, my IQ or my once-upon-a-time taut butt cheeks, would make me cry to the tune of torrential rains from heaven as I mourned my misguided life.
It’s bad enough that my greedy desires don’t move me toward my end goal, but it’s even worse to realize that they are likely to move me even further from it. After all, when you give off the impression that stuff is your priority, you often repel more people than you attract. And while I know this to be true, I somehow continue to act like a nut-brained squirrel, distracted by shiny new things that take me away from my real priorities.
With serendipitous timing, my husband recently came home with a story from work that struck a chord with me. A consultant had shared with him the story of his experience with FedEX. While he was interviewing employees for insight into their practices, he was delighted to discover that every single employee he questioned had the same response when asked about their job: “My job is to make sure our customers’ packages get to their destination by 10:30AM.”
This impressed me as corporate genius, as I loved how the programming of this same mission statement into the minds of every employee gave them a united purpose that they could only accomplish through teamwork. But once I stripped away the business implications, I realized how a little, old individual could reap the benefits of such declared mindfulness.
After all, It would have to be easier to stay focused on a desired outcome, instead of being mired in the minutia of our small part in the big picture, when the words are practically tattooed on your forehead. And without one, it’s no wonder we lose our way… especially with all that sparkly stuff beckoning to us at every turn.
This discovery makes me want to have my own personal mission statement that I can utter to myself often enough to remember that I value caring over new carpet, happiness over handbags, soul mates over square footage, and laughter over Lamborghinis.
In fact, I declare it here:
“My job is to be warm, accepting, dynamic and hopeful in my interactions with others so that they might feel better for having known me… which might just make them more likely to pardon the musty smell permeating through my old bathroom cabinets.”
In addition to writing for the Times Media, Inc. family of newspapers, I love to speak to groups about building a strong internal community that’s empowered to do big things. www.sunnysidecommunications.com
Causes Shana Moore Supports