Put down that selfie stick, and get on your hoverboard!
Consumer culture has produced two perfect metaphors, which will allow me to illustrate a great approach to better happiness. Consider:
The World as a Selfie Stick
Some people treat the world like a selfie stick. They keep it at arm’s length, and use it to create an image, which they share with other people and sometimes look at with satisfaction.
Occasionally creating an image of yourself is fine. It’s important to look at yourself and see where you fit in the world. It’s important to present a coherent image to other people.
If you do this too much, though, you’ll be unhappy. One reason: most of the images we see aren’t real. Even if they are true pictures, the pictures we post of ourselves are going to be selective.
For example, the images I post of my daughter look mostly like this:
Whereas she spends far more time looking like this:
It doesn’t mean I’m posting these images to fool people into thinking I’m happier than I am. The fact is that even trying to post honest images will still mislead people. Whatever you do, you’re fooling people about what it’s like to be you, because nobody lives inside your head and feels everything you feel.
Chances are, you are fooling yourself about what it’s like to be you. So what’s the alternative?
The World as a Hoverboard
It’s hard to learn, and it’s a little bit dangerous, but man, oh man, is it fun when you get the hang of it.
You’ll look ridiculous. People who haven’t done it will scoff at you. You might get hurt. And it’s a blast!
Many people who don’t know what they’re missing will laugh at you. Don’t worry about that — it’s not them. A selfie isn’t a person, and neither are their words. That mockery is just fear trying to justify its existence.
You’ll almost certainly fall down and get hurt. That’s fine! Get back up and try again. Lots of people want you to succeed, because they want to try riding, too! The people who are having a blast riding are hoping you succeed as well. There is not one person who wants you to fail — there is only fear, infecting minds and hijacking persons into expressing itself again.
Now, there’s also small probability the whole thing will catch fire and you’ll die in agony — but that’s true regardless of whether you’re riding the hoverboard or using your selfie stick. You can either spend your life comparing images and playing the “fear” game, or you go for one hell of a ride.