I have met people who seem to behave as if life is one big race of status and luxury. I think this is unfortunate and I don't believe that participating in life with only these goals in mind will make anyone truly happy or fulfilled.
As Coco Channel said: "The best things in life are free. The second best things are very, very expensive."
For me, life is a beautiful phenomenon that is best enjoyed with an open and curious mind. However, I do find myself drawn towards some of these so-called luxuries, some of them more than others.
I used to fantasize about sports cars when I was a kid and had yet to learn how to actually drive. Toady, this craving has largely gone away. I have also had fantasies about commissioning gorgeous architect houses and private jet travel. From any kind of environmentally conscious, sustainable and societal equality perspective, these dreams are all a huge waste of energy and resources.
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And I am thoroughly convinced that none of these extra would make me any happier as a person. I am already an extremely happy man, husband and proud father. I'm doing work I care about with people I love.
So why do I still crave for some of these luxury experiences? Life is full of paradoxes. So rather than asking why, perhaps it is more important to ask: how should I approach these desires? What if there are things that I want that I also feel I can't have?
One of my favorite luxuries is flying: I absolutely love it. I love flying business class and above when I'm able. And my goal for 2016 is to make one out of ten flights in a premium cabin.
So how can I do this?
No Judgement. Firstly, I think it is crucial to explore and set your own intentions without judgement. It's easy to feel that any kind of indulgent ambition is a bit wrong, or to feel guilty that you want things that actually don't align with your worldview. It can feel contradictory: for example, I believe in equality, but I love flying first class. It's also easy to simply write these wants off as silly or frivolous. After all, the objective difference is sometimes quite small: wider seats, free wine and beer and fewer lines in the airport. But this is okay. Accept this silliness as part of the experience. Dare to express precisely what you want and acknowledge your priorities as real and important: if you had to choose between a cheap hotel and business class flight or the inverse, what's more important to you?
Be Clear. Set a clear intent for what you want and define a realistic commitment for the coming year. Imagine that this will be a gradual transition. I will not be able to upgrade all my flights in 2016. But one in ten feels like a reasonable change.
Save Up. The most important thing is that you begin putting your money where your priorities actually are. For me this means spending extra money on more expensive tickets and in turn that is money that I can't spend on something else.
Look Back. It might turn out that by the end of the year I'll realize that flying first class was the wrong ambition. I could find out that this luxury that I prioritized and saved for was not worth it after all. But what I will have learned is that this is perhaps exactly the whole point: but by doing it I feel empowered to I can make for myself the life I actually want. And that change is always possible. As I can work toward making booking a first class flight a regular priority in my travel plans, I can also decide that this is no longer a top priority for me. And that lesson is far more valuable than the luxury itself.
___________________________________Mathias Jakobsen is a Learning Designer at Hyper Island and the creator of Think Clearly — a newsletter that helps you get unstuck. He loves notebooks, bakes bread and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, son and daughter.
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