This article originally published on Jan. 17, 2017.
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.