Do you feel in charge?
A column caught my eye. A writer explained how the current state of the world is not the result of a conspiracy, but of an escallation of a series of bad things that no longer can be turned around. The growing gap between poor and rich, the ratrace where houseprices soar, energy gets more expensive and salaries stay behind. Happiness seems harder to earn then ever before. If you believe that your happiness solely depends on these external factors, you’ll have a hard time no matter what happens.
The wisdom of Bane
Movie lovers will recognize the quote ‘Do you feel in Charge?’ from a scene from the Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight’, where supervillain Bane asks the guy supposedly in charge if he feels in charge, while laying his hand on his shoulder. Bane, being buff and looking aggressive and intimidating takes over seconds later. The ones that need to state they are in charge, often are not. The ones that lead, do not have to convince anyone that they’re the leader – they’re leading already. So when reading the column this quote came to mind, because it gave me a strong sense of victimization.
Slave of the system
In the same column the writer states we’re all slave of the system. I live in a country that is in the top 5 or top 10 for almost every list: happiness, healthcare, life expectancy, safety, equality and even height – we’re among the largest people on the planet. And apparently we’re also slaves, of a system, that created all this wealth, luck and prosperity. It means the chance that you can escape from the amount of rules that we have, the way we should and will live and the opportunities given to everyone are pretty much sorted. We’re not a slave at all, but we’re more overly optimized. And, some things are indeed in decline: we forgot to adept to changing demographics, so now many retire and few keep working, we forgot to build enough houses, so houses are extremely overpriced and scarce and the taxing pressure to keep all this beauty running is high which means you cannot keep a household on one income anymore. A wealth our parents had, but a few generations before them also did not have. So I see and feel that pain and I do not want to downplay the effect of these developments.
On the other hand older people often point out that younger generations have it all, from smartphones, gaming computers, holidays, pre-packeged food on every streetcorner and over 5 euro cups of terrible coffees. We’re in consumption overdrive and need money to buy stuff to impress people that we don’t even like. I’m not immune to hypes or peer pressure, but did grow up in a situation where I could not afford to go with the hypes (LA Gears, Nike Air Max, Levi 501, traumatized me for life 😉 ) but did show me how a few brands of overpriced stuff laid the foundation of current consumption problems. You don’t need it.
I just wanted to point this out since the article I read specifically referred to a lot of these things as part of modern life. Making it part of the problem is a choice, in my opinion. Buying overpriced coffee is not mandatory as far as I know. Nor does it make you happy.
You’re actually in charge
So at the end the author closed his statement by saying ‘I want to get out of here’. So you’re living in one of the highest ranking, safest, wealthiest countries, and want to get out because you feel like a slave of the system? That is amazing. Maybe people do need to suffer, to understand what they have? Or is it the boredom of safety that freaks them out? I have a few theories about this, but one of them seems to be appropriate in this case. It’s Bane’s wisdom: The author does not feel in control, at all. And the funny thing is, by reflecting his unhappiness on others, he gave that clue away. Being in charge, is something you do yourself. Feeling like a slave of the system, is something you do yourself. Happiness is created, by yourself.
I don’t think escaping this current environment the author of the article will make him happy. As usual the happiness he is seeking will rather be achieved by shifting focus to things he has control over and can achieve. The system is there to give you a head start into the top ~3% of the world already, complaining about that is a first world problem in my opinion. The mention that working hard and being part of the ratrace doesn’t pay off is understandable – but going from top 3% to top 2% is indeed a challenge. Matter of perspective, mostly. Looking at the 2% instead of the other 97% makes quite the difference – but not looking at anyone but yourself is probably key.