Superficial Goals that Distract You from Worthwhile Ones

I believe happiness is both conditional and decisional. Yet, basing your happiness solely on conditions and circumstances can be a sign that you have no control over yourself and that you are not the master of your own fate. You should decide to be happy, because that is the ideal. The thing is, due to human limitations and our naturally ingrained needs, our senses and emotions become dependent on conditions and situations. The mark of a really strong character is when a person decides to go above feelings and choose to count his/her blessings. This is difficult to do if your current state of affairs do not facilitate contentment and gratification.

Sickness, rejection, and failure bring pain and sadness to people. The latter two are likely because of some goals that were not achieved. The duration of painful experiences need not be lengthy, but it all depends on you. Yet still, the best cure for pain (due to failure and rejection) is for you to move on and learn from the mistakes - no more, no less.

Sometimes, our goals and ideals get mired by lofty desires. Instead of fulfilling your real passion in life, you become distracted by superfluous longings to be praised by people, be unbeatable, or gratify a lingering anger.

1. Desiring the approval of people

If you are a student, it is but normal to satisfy the conditions required by your school. If you are an employee, you would do the same for your company. As a student, your goal is to pass your subjects; you need the nod of your teachers for you to do so. As an employee, your objective is to earn a living and to not get fired; so you need to deliver results that will meet the management’s expectations. Such goals are good, as those people have some kind of moral ascendancy over you (or are expected to be so).

However, when you desire the praise of other people even if they have no connection whatsoever with you, then you are surely opening your doors to many episodes of disappointment. People will not always find you pleasing; your efforts may not be enough for them to solicit their clapping and cheering.

When your happiness depends so much on winning the approval of people, then rejection is something you will not tolerate. This spells trouble for you and to those you come in contact with.

2. Wanting to get ahead of others

The best advice about being competitive is that you should compete with yourself and no one else. If your goal is to be better than everyone, and you want people to acknowledge that you are the best - trying so hard to get noticed by ensuring the defeat of the person next to you, then you may be becoming like a very loud gong overpowering all the sounds around it but annoying all those who hear it.

You may say that you just want to track your personal improvement, and you do not have anything to measure it with unless you contrast yourself with others. This method may somehow be effective as it pushes you to reach higher lengths. However, since your standard of achievement is getting ahead of other people by toe to toe competition, then you are setting your life to a never-ending encounter with dissatisfaction and frustration. The only occasion when this method is justifiable is if you are playing sports.

You can, in fact, track your personal growth without the head to head collision and hurtful competition with another person. That is by doing better today than what you did yesterday, and strive to do even better tomorrow than what you are doing today. It is about competing with yourself, remember? Of course, do not forget to live in the present moment.

Learn how to contain disappointment and frustration.

3. Seeking revenge on those you have a grudge with

We now go to the third superfluous goal. Setting your focus and effort so you can get back at someone you are angry with can indeed be a source of motivation. Not a few people were able to achieve their objectives and make something of themselves just because they are angry. They want to show the world how righteous they are because they perceive their fellowman as just nefarious. Self-righteousness is what we call this trait.

There is nothing crooked if you want to prove yourself right or to point out errors of some fellows when they are wrong (if indeed they are wrong). However, if your real goal is to inflict pain and cause humiliation, then this is nothing but vindictiveness - and no, it is not justice.

Quenching your thirst for revenge will almost always end up in hurting someone. Unfortunately, this can include yourself.

Chastising Your Goals

If this article sounds like it aims to ruin your dreams, I suggest you read it again from the top. Come to think of it, this is really about the purity of your intentions.

You attempt to achieve your aspiration and accomplish a goal. Will it bring about goodness to the people around you? How about the methods through which you are to do it; do they involve stepping on people’s reputations?

Think about it.

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  1. I couldn’t disagree more. The approval of other people is all that matters. Who gives a shit what I think about myself? It’s irrelevant. I don’t care how Bruno Mars feels about himself, I just like his music. So do a lot of other people. Guarantee the vast majority of them don’t care how he feels about himself. As long he keeps producing stuff they like, they’re happy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to be better than others. Do you think Olympic athletes give two shits how they did in the race compared to last time? Doubtful. They care about winning, which means being faster than everyone else in the race. The New England Patriots don’t worry about how they are playing compared to last season. They care about winning THIS game TODAY. And that means beating the other team.

    And finally, revenge is delicious. There is very little more rewarding than seeing someone get their comeuppance. Even better when you serve it up to them yourself.

  2. I'm wondering what kind of life experiences one has to go through in order to reach such conclussions.

    "The approval of other people is all that matters."

    If other's thoughts on your life, decisions and achievements are the only thing giving meaning to your life, then you are up for a really sad existence. Sure, praise and admiration by others does gives satisfaction and does wonders for the spirit, but just as long as you feel good enough about yourself to actually believe any of it. How many celebrities suffer from depression and end up killing themselves? If the approval of others is all that matters, they should have enough of it to be happy for the rest of their lives, yet it doesn't seem to be doing much for them. None of the important things you'll find outside, since there has to be inner peace for anything outside to have value. Anything outside of you is mundane and ultimately a temporary pleasure that will go away.

    "Who gives a shit what I think about myself? It’s irrelevant."

    It is irrelevant for others in the same way that Bruno Mars' feelings are for you. In the grand scheme of things your feelings are indeed insignificant, but you are not experiencing existence from an objective perspective, but from your own (Very obvious, but still worth noting.) Everything you go through, from the decisions you make to the conclusions you reach are affected by how you feel. Anyone who says they are a hundred percent objective and are not affected by feelings is either lying or in denial, because being emotionally intelligent does not mean to not feel. So yes, your feelings are irrelevant to me, but they should not be to you.

    On competitivity I'll just say that self-improvement is what pushes most mentally healthy people. There's bound to be athletes with a mindset like yours, and I'm sure they are among the unhappiest people to have ever existed. All the others will tell you that what makes them keep going is the satisfaction of pushing your own limits. It is not about being better than others, it is about proving yourself that you can always go further. Surpassing others is not the goal, just a side-effect.

    On revenge, most of those who have experienced it will tell you how empty it feels. It is true that there is a certain satisfaction to see someone get what they deserve, even more, indeed, if it was thanks to you, but after that initial peak of pleasure, you'll go back to being the miserable individual that you were before, because nothing inside has changed, and also you invested your precious time in something that will not give you further benefits.

    All I see in your comment is someone deeply hurt trying to justify their toxic mindset by projecting it into the outer world. You are miserable because you seek outside some kind of proof that you are worthy of being alive, yet you cannot find it and like to believe that everyone lives in the same agonizing state as you do, which is sadly true for a lot of people. Even worse, you have convinced yourself that this is the one and only way to live.

    It is sad, but as you said, your feelings are irrelevant (except, I insist, for yourself.)

    I hope you learn to love yourself someday, because this state you're really is a pitiful one.


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