The Q-Wave: Things vs Experiences in Social Isolation

John Bielinski, MS PA-C By June 24, 2020No Comments
The Q-Wave: Things vs Experiences in Social Isolation

I didn’t wear my Rolex watch once throughout the COVID-19 isolation and social distancing; not one time. I didn’t even really think about it. And I wonder why? I wonder how that’s going to change my life moving forward. Why did I buy a Rolex? It’s an expensive watch. Was it social status? Was it functionality? Was it to impress others? Was it to impress myself?

I think the answer to those questions is yes. COVID-19 proves that because I never wore it one time while social distancing. I didn’t use my Rolex to time my workouts. A Rolex is one of those watches that sets itself while it’s on your arm. While you’re moving, it stays set to the proper time. And I still didn’t wear it once. What does that say about me? It says something incredibly superficial. It says something incredibly superficial about what motivates my behavior.

When I couldn’t leave the house much and wasn’t seeing family and friends like I used to, I didn’t wear that watch once. How is that going to help me to look at my life moving forward? Clearly, the Rolex is a thing and a status symbol. It didn’t bring me spiritual peace and joy. It didn’t bring me closer to God. It didn’t improve my work performance. It didn’t give me functionality. It was a very expensive status symbol and identity claim.

There are three different ways that we can see our behavior in other people:

  1. Identity claim,
  2. Emotional enhancement, and
  3. Behavioral residue.

If you want to know the personality behind somebody, you look at what their identity claims are. Who are they claiming to be with external “advertisements,” if you will? These are the bumper stickers on their car, tattoos they have, or pins or hats they wear.

You also have emotional enhancers. These are the things people put in their life that make them feel better and stronger. What enhances their mood?

If you could sneak into someone’s house and open their drawers or look in their closet, or look in their medicine cabinet, what do you observe about them? This is their behavior residue.

I look at the Rolex watch. Is it an identity claim? “Look, I have a Rolex. I am successful.” Did I do it to enhance my mood? Colleagues, I didn’t wear it one time during COVID-19. Is it behavioral residue? Well, it’s clearly not behavioral residue.

So that means it has to be an identity claim. What does it tell me about me? Well, it tells me that I have a pretty superficial side. I know that when I first bought that Rolex, it was expensive enough that I felt guilty. I thought, “Boy, I could have invested that money in other places. I could have used those funds for an experience. I could have used it to take my family on vacation or go on a trip.” It would have covered a really nice trip.

When you look at happiness studies, things will never make you happy. It’s incredibly temporary. There’s a lot of sadness, frustration and jealousy that goes into things. Whether it’s a car, a house, a boat, a Rolex watch, when it comes to experiences, like planning a trip, they create happiness the moment you start planning.

In November of this year, I’m going to Poland. I’m lecturing there, but my intention is to tour Poland and see some of the historical landmarks. I’m already excited about it. I’m already feeling joy about this trip.

So I ask you, where’s your balance between the things in your life and the experiences in your life? Because I sure have to look deeply at myself. What are the identity claims in my life? Do they truly represent who I am and see myself as? Or do they represent who I’m trying to be as I engage with in the world?

As COVID-19 comes to an end, there’s still some fear within me. Are we easing restrictions too quickly? Has this virus really burnt itself out, or are we looking for a second wave? I don’t know about those things, but I sure know that I didn’t wear my Rolex watch one time during social distancing.

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