Whether it be to get the most food for my money at a restaurant, or to make as many friends as possible when moving to a new city, or to earn more money in less time than my colleagues, or to… I think you get it, I’ve always aimed for quantity over quality.
I started living by this philosophy at a young age as I’ve always been competitive and quantity shows clearly who the winner is. On the contrary, the word quality says it all: it is a qualitative measure that is different from one person to the other; making it impossible to arbitrarily determine a winner.
Recently, I’ve started retrospecting on how I live my life, and I noticed that the very same mentality that I thought made me a winner was actually hurting me. In fact, living life as if it was a competition was adding stress and reducing the quality of my goods and interactions.
On the one hand, in terms of the added stress, comparing myself to others comes to mind. I’ve been undervaluing my successes and overvaluing those of others. Social media has played an immense part in this. Every day I see friends going on epic vacations, partying like their lives depend on it and receiving achievements in their proper fields all while I’m sitting on a couch watching Netflix. I forget to consider that what they’re posting is not a representation of how happy they are but simply what they want to show their entourage. I also forget that my priorities are different from theirs. This leads me to make decisions with my future in mind both economically (staying home during recess week to save $1000) and academically (not going out every day of the week). If those are deliberate choices I’ve made, then why do I feel jealous when comparing myself? Because I value quantity in terms of possessions and experiences over the quality of my decisions.
On the other hand, regarding the quality of my goods and interactions, one example quickly comes to mind. Take the “most food for my money at a restaurant” example from above. Because of this reasoning, I’ve prioritized fast food and value meals over good restaurants and my favourite dishes. This has had a negative impact on my overall impression of eating (a necessary action not intended to provide joy) and on my health, as cheaper foods are often worst for you (i.e. fast food).
With a good understanding of why I make certain decisions and why I feel the way I do afterwards, I can now act — I can now improve.
The first area I’d like to work on is what I eat. I will challenge myself to limit my consumption of fast food to once a month and to keep a relatively similar budget for food outings as I currently have. This will force me to do two things: be more satisfied with what I put in my body and eat at home more often. However, it shouldn’t stop there; changing my restaurant behaviour is only half the battle. I also need to make a change in my habits at home. Living with my parents, I don’t have much say regarding what we eat for dinner. However, even when I cook for myself, too often do I opt for an option that doesn’t take much time or energy to make (noodles, sandwiches, etc) and once again that translates into unsatisfying and unhealthy dishes. Thus, my challenge here is to try a different recipe every week to discover and appreciate new foods.
The other area where I will adopt changes is how I compare myself to others. My challenge here is to force myself to go on more adventures or to do more activities I like. This is easy now considering I am on an exchange in Singapore and all I have to worry about is having fun, but it will prove much more challenging when I’ll be back in Canada and reality will check-in. How will this help me change the way I compare myself to others? It won’t; not directly at least. What it will do however is make me enjoy my life a lot more and reduce my desire/need to compare my life. Therefore, by refocusing my priorities to do more things I enjoy as opposed to buying more things I enjoy, I’ll be in a much better place to finally let go of the idea that others are always happier than me.
Like many, I used to consider quantity a better indicator of happiness than quality. I was wrong and I can now act and make a change in my life. My plan isn’t perfect but there’s no such thing as a perfect plan. All I know is that the soonest I modify my behaviours, the soonest I’ll see some results. That’s my resolution for 2020, what’s yours?