4 Things Our Culture Doesn't Want You to Know

A woman purchases a Diet Coke and says, “Look, here’s the thing about Diet Coke. It’s delicious. It makes me feel good. Life is short. If you want to live in a yurt, yurt it up. If you want to run in a marathon, I mean, that sounds super hard, but OK. I mean, just do you, whatever that is. And if you’re in the mood for a Diet Coke, have a Diet Coke. Diet Coke. Because I can.”

I saw this Diet Coke ad on tv recently, and it got me thinking. (Besides having to Google what a yurt is. It’s a like a tipi, FYI.) Maybe I’m over-analyzing a commercial, or maybe the commercial hints at what is wrong with our culture. 

Here’s a few things to keep in mind even though culture, tv, and Diet Coke ads want to tell you otherwise:

  1. Being yourself does not mean doing whatever you want. Being yourself means being the best version of yourself, your true self, your authentic-deep-down-who-you-are. Sometimes that means you have to sacrifice what you want, for what you need. 
  2. ‘What you want’ is not a decision-making process. You face thousands of decisions a day. Deciding what to do based on what I want would leave me in bed until noon, eating cookies for lunch, cake for supper, and drinking hot fudge sauce while watching Netflix all day. A proper decision-making strategy looks something like this: Who do I want to be? What do I need to do to be that person? If option A gets you closer to being that person and option B takes you further from being that person, choose option A - even if at that moment you want to do something else.
  3. ‘Because I can’ is a pretty crappy way to make a decision too. I CAN do all sorts of things. I CAN honk my horn, scream, and give the one-fingered wave at slow drivers. I CAN give a big dose of the silent treatment. I CAN blow my fuse. I CAN spend all day on social media. I CAN have a one-night-stand. I CAN sleep in. I CAN show up late for work. I CAN do pretty much anything (legal) and no one will stop me. But just because I CAN, does that mean I SHOULD? Again, make decisions based on whether it will take you closer to or further from your best self.
  4. There are two kinds of “feel good”. One is pleasure, and one is happiness. A huge crisis that our culture faces is that we’ve got these two jumbled up. We live in a world that says that these are the same thing, but they’re not. Author Matthew Kelly opened my eyes by pointing out this distinction. Pleasure is temporary. It won’t last past the last swig of Diet Coke (ever heard of instant gratification). Happiness is in it for the long run. Saying no to the second slice of cake will end the pleasure, but will add to the happiness. Happiness is when you are being your best self. Sometimes your best self will have that Diet Coke, sometimes your best self will not have that Diet Coke. Either way, you’ll be happy.

Here’s to Conquering Stress,
The Stress Experts

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