We have to be very careful in choosing our pursuits, because our habits make us.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s fable The Red Shoes, a young girl longs for a pair of pretty red shoes. She ultimately tricks the blind woman who cares for her into buying her a pair. Her love for the red shoes causes her to give them priority over the more important things in her life, and, as often happens in fables, karma is not on her side. The shoes become firmly stuck to her feet and force her to dance non-stop, to the point where she almost dies from exhaustion and starvation.
We can scoff at the little girl’s foolishness, but, in real life, we often do the same thing -- we chase after the things that we think will make us happy and don’t realize that we’re heading down a dangerous path.
One study found that the people who experience the greatest job satisfaction aren’t the ones in the big, fancy offices; they’re the ones who approach their work as a calling, even when that work involves menial labor.
Another study found that simply seeing fast-food logos makes people impatient. It’s not that there’s some intrinsic characteristic of fast food that makes people impatient; it’s the habits we’ve come to associate with fast food, such as always being on the run, eating on the go and never slowing down enough to enjoy a healthy meal, that bring out our impatience.
We have to be very careful in choosing our pursuits, because our habits make us. Cultivating the habits that follow will send you in the right direction. They’ll help you to lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life, whereby you cultivate the best within yourself.
1. Stay away from people who erode your quality of life
If merely seeing a logo for a fast-food company can make you feel impatient, just think how much more impact a toxic person can have on your life. They might be unhappy about your decision to stay away from them, and they might tell you very loudly just how unhappy they are, but isn’t avoiding them worth the cumulative effects of years of their negative influence? There are always going to be toxic people who have a way of getting under your skin and staying there. Each time you find yourself thinking about a coworker or person who makes your blood boil, practice being grateful for someone else in your life instead. There are plenty of people out there who deserve your attention, and the last thing you want to do is think about the people who don’t matter.