I have selfish reasons for wanting you to be satisfied with the life you're living. It’s my belief system that the world is a better place when its inhabitants are content and fulfilled. Especially because we all affect this world and the people in it: our ideas spread like wildfire and our actions affect the ecosystem. I think the old adage, “To each his own” should be tweaked to “To each his own and then some.”
We play two roles, first as individuals and second as a part of the collective. I think it’s important to balance both perspectives and find harmony between the two. So in other words, determine our own paths as individuals with regard to how we impact the rest of the world. I think it starts with figuring out what “life satisfaction” means, and then figuring out the way to live a fulfilled life while making the rest of the world happy too.
Here’s a living breathing example. Klauus Thymann is a photographer who keeps it real—no digital retouching, no photo shopping. He says: “I’m a fashion photographer, but I won’t photograph girls who are too skinny or who look too young. You have to recognize you’re part of an opinion-making machine.”
I love this for more than a few reasons:
1. He’s being conscientious about his values and refuses to sellout in order to make it big in the fashion industry. He’s taking a risk, but to him it’s a risk worth taking.
2. He inspires me and others to re-think current views on beauty and the unhealthy state of the “opinion-making machine.” It is not okay to pressure models into anorexia, and look down upon normal sized women. Opinion-making machines are created, and can also be destroyed.
So who determines the status quo anyway? The most common way isn’t necessarily the right way, but it starts with each of us. If we can all push ourselves to find win/win situations—ways to make yourself happy and people across the planet happy as well—then you have beaten the zero-sum game. You can be confident in yourself, your values, and your decisions regardless of the critics.