Living for the Result is Overrated
For my eleventh birthday, my parents planned on hosting my party at Burger King. Of course, I invited my best friends but I still had space to invite a few more people. Word got out and I was bombarded with a number of requests to come. Not gonna lie, I felt a bit special.
They made promises of what they could get me as presents if they were invited and sure enough, the ones who made the best promises got the invite.
Overall, the night was a good one. Although the promises that some of these guys made weren’t fulfilled, I had a lot of fun and it was mostly with the people I was closest to anyway. However, I realised that these dudes who were more like acquaintances used me to get free food and to play in the playroom Burger King had.
It wasn’t about me and celebrating my life, it was about what they could get from me.
Now, almost twenty years later, it’s even more rampant and regrettably, I see that this mindset of living for the result took over so many aspects of my own life.
A couple months into sharing posts on Medium, I wanted more reads, claps and engaging comments. Then I calmed down, realizing that it really isn’t in my control. Even this post might not really feature highly on the platform.
But if that is the reason I’m writing, I might as well stop. It’s as Bukowski wrote, “If you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.” You write because “it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut.” This goes for any venture you undertake in life. You may not be “called” to do it, but if you decide to do something, do it because you decided to, do it because you value the thing itself, not for what it brings you.
There are other things I could be doing with my time. I have poems, screenplays, treatments and query letters to write too. But I’m doing this because it’s an act of service. An insight struck me and I wanted to share it. I wouldn’t call it original, but to me it is good to share it because it is vital and easily forgotten.
Once upon a time in romance, it was enough to simply be in the presence of the person you liked. Now, you need sex or a committed relationship or both. It’s no longer enough to just admire someone. You must possess them or bed them.
We certainly have needs and we want them to be met. However, as I’ve written before, if you’re taking the approach of trying to get something from someone, and they’re taking the approach of trying to get something from you, aren’t you two going to butt heads instead of bump uglies?
We’d like to think we can just trade affection for affection and attention for attention. The truth is, we don’t realize that that cheapens the relationship. Moreover, if you gave affection and attention because you genuinely valued the other person, and they did the same for you, the relationship takes on a robust and real identity. It is not easily shaken.
I’m not remotely friends with those guys that begged for an invite to my birthday. I’m not even sure if they enjoyed themselves at the party. Whereas for the people I was actually close with, we may not be close anymore but I at least know what’s going on in their lives to some degree.
How to act for the thing itself and not what it can get you
I’ve learnt this in various ways throughout life. The best relationship I’ve ever had ended because of a clash of values. I couldn’t believe I was losing the love of my life because of something I considered trite but that she considered sacred. As a result, I vowed to be with people who shared the same values.
I lost love but I realised that I would always lose it if I tried to get it from places that didn’t reflect who I was. More importantly, I realised that if it’s love that I want, I could provide a healthy dose of that for myself. I certainly didn’t count out the love from others, but loving myself was more important.
Last year I quit a job that gave me money throughout the years but was stifling me creatively. It was somewhat affiliated with what I studied, so it wasn’t completely new to me, but it wasn’t me. Plus I worked with people who cared about what they were doing and I felt the hunger for embracing an industry that reflected my interests and talents.
The money was no longer a motivator. I’d rather be broke and do what I wanted and die happy, than be rich doing what I didn’t want to do. That’s suicide. I was dying in that job every day. The money that was supposed to feed me was prolonging my suffering because it had me returning to a guillotine for my soul.
What is the recurring theme here? It’s enlightenment. Meaning, you have to see just how foolish it is to live your life trying to get stuff from people and not primarily living for your values. My words might help but it’ll be especially impactful if you know the life of doing things for things versus doing things that are in accordance with your internal value system.
Take stock of your life. What are the things that you do that you don’t really want to do but you feel you have to do them in order to get what you want?
What are you afraid of losing if you were to stop doing things you don’t want to do?
Ask yourself, are there any people who get what I want without doing the things I think I have to do? If you can’t think of anyone, crack open Google and search.
Being aware of the present discomfort and of people who live lives they’re proud of is important if you hope to start living instead of living for a result.
Lastly, I want to be clear. Nothing is wrong with having goals and desires. I don’t believe that desire is the root of all suffering like some Buddhists say. As a matter of fact, there are desires that emerge naturally from within us.
What I am sharing here is that putting the goal as more important than the activity that you have to do to even get the goal is… well, pretty foolish, don’t you think?