Am I fighting for happiness or wealth?
It's so easy to get distracted.
At the micro level, we have our phones' unending supply of dopamine shots vying for attention.
At the macro level, most services we need are a button click away, zero patience necessary. Tap a button: a taxi arrives. Tap a button: get your delivery on the same day. Tap a button: binge watch an entire TV season.
There's a saying that "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with". It seems pretty accurate, but I think there's something missing:
You are the content you consume.
Three months ago, I started a full-time job and moved to greater London. In this new financial and accommodation situation, I discovered I had no idea about how to best utilize it.
So I've recently been consuming a lot of content around financial strategy, stocks and shares, ISAs, flat rental & purchase listings, student debt calculators, mortgage calculators... god there's so much to learn. On the plus side, I now know a hella lotta more about it all than a couple months ago... but does it make me happy?
No, not really. For most of us, managing finances isn't really expected to be a fun experience with rainbows and bottles of champagne.
But there's more to it. It's been changing my behaviour, my thought patterns.
It's encouraging me to choose somewhere with a long commute because of the financial advantages, even if I'd be happier without that commute. My actions are being shaped by the content I've chosen to consume.
Is it worth sacrificing happiness for wealth? I don't think so.
Looking at it from a 'regret minimisation' perspective: in 50 years time, will I regret choosing money over happiness? Almost certainly.
Money doesn't buy time (unless it's for improving your health). And spending time unhappy in the pursuit of wealth feels wasteful.
However, that same thought process could be used to argue against "long term pain over short term gain" (that is, giving up something small now in exchange for larger rewards in the future). It's a dangerous line to tread.
Is it worth forgoing some comfort now in exchange for greater future rewards?
I don't know. And so, we find ourselves torn in the balance of opposing views.
But circling further back towards the point of this article: that shift in content consumption affected my thoughts and my goals. I'm now working harder to create my own content and to carefully curate any content I do consume. Anything I consume should push me towards my goals and my values, not away from them. But at the same time, I should be prudent to avoid echo chambers.
Are you shaped by the content you consume? Does it push you towards or away from where you want to be?