Ninja Warrior vs. Ninja Shopper

July 4, 2016

A few years back I first heard about America Ninja Warrior. It sounded gimmicky until I watched it for the first time and I was kind of hooked. In contrast to seemingly every other reality show, this one isn’t built around eliminating people just for the sake of eliminating. As a tangent…I like cooking shows but even these get Survivoresque. Oh, and I am pretty sure the shows tell contestants to act cocky and like they’re the best, strongest, most marvelous person on the planet and I love not that:)

Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.

The quote from a favorite movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has stuck with me: “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention” and I appreciate reality show participants – and people in real life since reality shows aren’t that – who sneak through and demonstrate the rare trait of humility.

Okay okay…back to America Ninja Warrior. What I appreciate about it is that it’s not (all) about have a “great body” but rather what you can do WITH your body. Watching it inspires me and I would guess others to do things like lift weights, climb more trees, jump over handrails, jump rope and plain get fitter to be able to live and move more freely.

Think of the contrast between a hobby that’s about sharpening the one-and-only instrument (aka body) you have to live life with, vs shopping. What do you get out of shopping? What’s your why? What does it allow you to DO? Um, pretty much nothing. I am not anti-shopping or anti-having nice clothes and stuff! Not at all! In fact, I bought some this weekend.

It’s enjoyable having clothes that you feel cute in and that suit your style. There are loads of items that make your home more of a place you want to spend time and entertain. Handy gadgets? We are living in an age of useful things! Things like smart phones, headset things for listening to music and books/podcasts, FitBits, etc. can make life easier, more fun and allow us to connect more easily. And don’t even get me started on things like glass Tupperware and office supplies. All these things are good things.

But shopping and buying clothes (especially) can be dead-end streets especially when you can’t or shouldn’t afford the purchases. If you haven’t budgeted for pleasure spending, the guilt or vague uneasiness will set in whether it be soon or late. I am very familiar with a what-the-heck, throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude since that’s what sustained me on some of my most glorious shopping sprees during my 20’s. It’s a feeling I image old-time gun-slingers must have felt when they were about to go out in a blaze of glory (I’m thinking of Shanghai Noon with Owen Wilson – anyone else?)

Sadly, a shopping spree’s bravado disappears pretty quickly because there’s no substance in it. You can’t DO anything with clothes (the usual outcome of a shopping spree) except wear them and you can only wear so many clothes. And having clothes purchased on credit or to the detriment of your actual expenses (like utilities or groceries) is a constant reminder of your lack of discipline. It’s like the wrong kind of trophy wall:) Usually purchases like this (mass quantities, spontaneously purchased, not budgeted for) are motivated by some emotion: boredom, low self-esteem, craving acceptance. It’s a hobby with a very low barrier to entry but there are a zillion other hobbies that pay much higher dividends. Some hobbies on my list:

  • shooting hoops (basketball for the less athletic amongst us)
  • hiking
  • reading
  • ripstiking (it seems to be mostly pre-teens who ripstik. I was taught by my 11-year-old cousin in her family’s kitchen during a “Failure to Launch” phase of life. I was 30.)
  • cooking
  • serving in the community/neighborhood/church
  • calligraphy
  • going to the gym

So what’s the point of all these words? I guess it boils down to this:

#1. Think about WHY you do what you do (i.e. shopping) and figure out if there’s another way to fill that hole.

#2. Budget for then buy only stuff you can afford and really like.

#3. Watch America Ninja Warrior?:) Shoot, that might help with #1.

Want more pieces like this one? Explore everything written pre-Substack here, and to get the latest in your inbox, join hundreds of others receiving the More to Your Life  

It's a newsletter for dreamers about work, money, and living a life of purpose, connection, and adventure.

No spam around here, just emails you hopefully thoroughly enjoy. Unsubscribe at any time.