They say that everybody needs a role model…but why? What path will you choose?
Role models are those people that put us on the right or wrong path in life. The people that we look up to, teach us what to aim for, how to treat people and help us to establish our own moral compass.
Role models are sometimes not in our immediate surroundings. As we are bombarded on a daily bases with marketing and media messages from the TV and radio, we can sometimes look up to celebrities and desire products and material items that we are convinced we need.
So what path have we been set upon? How do we define ourselves? And what kind of outcome can we eventually expect?
Path of Materialism
Likely outcomes – jealously, lack of gratitude, greed, corruption, debt
If we dedicate ourselves to a life of materialism, then we have, in the opinion of many, become a victim of consumerism and all the marketing messages that are sent our way by different corporations.
People on this path will often evaluate others, and themselves, according to what car they drive, how much money they earn and how big their house is.
This path will develop the ego; and any happiness that is achieved will be fragilely balanced and hung upon one’s material possessions.
People on this path are often obsessed with their appearance too. Remember, if someone uses beauty products that are tested on animals, they’re ugly on the inside.
Path of drugs and alcohol
Likely outcomes – unhappiness, debt, ill health
In moderation of course, alcohol and arguably some drugs (cannabis for example) can have some benefits, and it’s quite normal for all young people to go out and enjoy themselves. When this becomes the only source of happiness and entertainment however, this can cause huge problems, with money, physical health, relationships and eventually mental health.
Be aware and mindful, to ensure this path doesn’t become a permanent lifestyle.
Path of aggression
Likely outcome – unhappiness, jail, anger
Where I live, in the UK, there are a lot of broken families; as a result, many young men often lack a male role model in the family. Due to their often hostile surroundings, and perhaps the violence they see on TV and video games, many young people seem to aspire to be the local hard-man (or woman), are highly aggressive and egotistical, and are unable to have a discussion or disagreement without using threatening language and/or behaviour.
There are extreme cases and situations (being physically attacked for example) when this type of aggressive behaviour may be necessary, but this is a very destructive path to follow, and this type of behaviour should certainly not define who we are.
Martial arts could possibly provide an alternative, less self-destructive path. With a good instructor, martial arts can provide healthy role models for children and young adults. Discipline, physical fitness and respect for one’s self and others, all help form a well-rounded individual. The Gracie Jiu JItsu mantra of “learn to fight, so you don’t have to” summarises many of the benefits of learning self-defence.
Path of the career-go-getter
Likely outcome – success, money, material-wealth, greed(?)
The path of materialism, in my opinion, is somewhat different from the path of the career-minded individual. The materialistic person wants possessions and ‘things’ but is often not motivated enough to put the work in to get these things. A career minded person, is driven and focused. two traits that are worthy of respect.
A career minded person doesn’t necessarily have to be greedy or materialistic; perhaps he/she recognises the importance of money in relation to their children’s education or just to pay for healthcare and live on a ‘nice’ estate that is free from violent crimes.
Whether we like it or not, I think we should all take on this mind set to a certain degree. After all, we need money to pay for yoga classes and those yoga mats don’t come cheap either. I think that this path is a healthy one, as long as it does not compromise ethics, or relationships with loved ones.
We’ve all read those studies and articles about Capitalism and psychopaths, right? Don’t be one of those people. And please don’t start evaluating people according to how much money they earn. Work hard if money is important, but be humble and be nice.
Path of ‘Yoga’ and gratitude
Likely outcome – happiness, gratitude, good friends
I’m obviously pretty biased, but I think we all need some yoga and meditation in our lives. More focus, more peace, more open-minded; the skills obtained can help in many aspects of life.
Yoga is proven to improve physical and mental health and as such can help a person’s career, and help people to enjoy life more without the need for alcohol or drugs.
I think practising gratitude is a huge part of this; be thankful for the material possessions that we do have (such as a roof over our heads, and a bed to sleep in) or we’ll always be striving for more, and never be satisfied.
One of the great things about yoga and the yoga community is meeting open-minded friendly and genuine people. Surrounding ourselves with individuals with these characteristics is a great way to neutralise some of the insecurities that TV adverts and other media messages can install within us.
None of these paths are distinct, and there is no right path, but we can certainly do others and ourselves emotional harm if we dedicate ourselves to some ways of thinking and ways of evaluating people.
Whichever path you end up going down, be humble, be honest and be kind to others and yourself, and you won’t go far wrong.dno1967b/Flickr Photo: JordanAnthony/Flickr