Preserving your psychological health and wellbeing in an age of digital instant gratification
In a world of immediacy and instant gratification, it pays to remember good things take time
WHEN we received the council’s leaflet answering “commonly asked questions” for owners of heritage properties earmarked for listing, my initial reaction was a warm glow of pride.
This felt like a pat on the back for not knocking down our 1920s weatherboard cottage — like so many had — and doing a sympathetic addition. We’d moved to the area because of its character so hadn’t wanted to raise local history in favour of a turn-of-the-century Mcmansion makeover.
But here’s the rub — we’ve also been considering putting the house on the market. My husband’s initial reaction was: “That’s gonna make it almost impossible to sell.”
“Yes but we (as in society) are going to be so much prouder and richer in the long run,” I replied altruistically.
Inwardly, I was disappointed. I knew he was probably right — in the short term, we were screwed.
So what makes anything worth wanting? I got thinking about the subject of branding.
Nineteenth century philosopher William James, brother of literary giant Henry, wrote “pursuit of purpose over profit ... would only ever be appreciated in hindsight”.
If I had a brand, what would it look like, how would it last? I thought about enduring brands such as Burberry or, in the Australian context, RM Williams and, indeed, the very corporation for which I work. It’s the history that gives these names cachet.
They don’t have to reinvent anything, they just have to keep on refining what they do. Longevity already provides an inherent association with quality.
Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell observes our brands are “the sum total of all those highly individualised choices that we make about the material content of our lives”.
It is true over time you become the sum of a lot of things — schooling, career choice, where you live, the courage of your convictions.
Brainpickings is an online grab-bag of eclectic information that discusses the way in which our culture worships at the altar of immediacy and instant gratification.
“We continue to romanticise the largely mythic notion of the overnight success, overlooking the years of struggle and failure that paved the way for some of humanity’s most admired and accomplished luminaries,” creator Maria Popova said.
She gives Da Vinci, Tchaikovsky, Marie Curie and Stephen King as examples of those who have persevered to end up as celebrated geniuses as opposed to those who “throw in the towel and sink into obscurity”.
“Like a flower in blossom,” Popova said, in a blog about the seven things she had learned about reading, writing and life, “the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.”
She also quotes her partner, design visionary Debbie Millman: “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”
It is all about the Long Game.
In this social media age of “sensation” and “send” I grapple with the constant red flags buzzing across my own networks.
It is one thing to make mistakes about your integrity but your brand, in the Long Game, involves sensible decisions about how we adapt to the internet’s voraciousness.
“Think twice about what you put up there, my darling,” I hear myself saying to the kids – a lot.
“Try and leap-frog over this moment. In five years your perspective will change more than you know. Do you really want your future decisions predicated on the skeletons you have recorded in digital purgatory?”
Much better to be thinking about the parts of yourself you’d heritage list.
The real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.