“The need to impress others causes half the world’s woes.” —Vernon Howard
More often than we would care to admit, the desire to impress others motivates our lives. This desire to impress others impacts the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the technology we embrace, and the careers we choose.
Unfortunately, it is often elusive. Cars rust. Fashion changes. Technology advances. And the purchases that impressed your neighbor yesterday make no impression today. As a result, we live our lives with out-of-style clothes, jobs that we hate, skyrocketing personal debt, and jealousy towards our neighbor who seems to have it all… until that unquenchable desire to impress begs us to begin the cycle again.
The hard truth is we often look to impress others in all the wrong places.
Take a moment and identify the people in your life that truly impress you. What is it about their life that inspires you? Make a list. Very rarely (if ever) is it the car that they drive or the size of their home. Most often, the people that truly inspire us possess the invisible, intangible qualities that we all desire.
Consider this list of 15 Intangible, Surefire Ways to Impress Others:
1. Be Generous. Regularly give your time, energy, and money to others without expecting anything in return. The giving of your life to another is one of the most impressive things you can ever do.
2. Laugh Often. Be that person that routinely laughs at other’s jokes and stories. It concretely communicates that you enjoy life and their company. They’ll be impressed and you’ll be a more joyful person.
3. Be Optimistic. Always, always, always focus on the good aspects of people and situations. Sometimes you have to look harder than others, but you’ll always be glad you did.
4. Love Your Kids. And by love your kids, I mean genuinely like them too. Enjoy being with them, spending time with them, and investing in their lives. This love towards children will be evident in your life even when they aren’t around.
5. Be Faithful to Your Spouse. Marital fidelity is going out of style too quickly these days. Stay faithful to the one you chose. Trust me, your friends and colleagues will be impressed… not to mention your partner.
6. Develop Your Strengths. I am impressed by good singers, authors, writers, architects, speakers, CEO’s, computer programmers, mothers, and athletes (just to name a few). There is only one thing they all have in common: They discovered their strengths and developed them with great discipline. Do the same with your unique giftedness and temperament. And regardless of the profession you choose, you will impress.
7. Travel. See the world. You will change and be better because of it.
8. Appreciate Different Opinions. While there is nothing wrong with being dogmatic in your beliefs, a healthy appreciation of how others came to theirs is definitely an impressive quality.
9. Love Your Life. Don’t fall into the trap of living life like everyone else. Avoid television and consumerism. Embrace your passions and find enjoyment in your life. The people around you will be impressed… and jealous.
10. Encourage More. Living your life in competition with those around you will never impress. After all, everyone else is already doing that. Change the world by being different. Seek to encourage and lift up others. And the person who benefits the most just may be you.
11. Love Nature. People who exhibit care for the physical world around us exhibit care for all humanity.
12. Listen Intently. Eyes focused. Ears tuned. Cell phone off. In a world that can’t move fast enough, someone who can find time to listen is as rare as a precious jewel… and far more valuable.
13. Be Modest. You are special, unique, and gifted. And the less you make an effort to tell everyone that, the more they will notice.
14. Be Content. A contented life is enjoyable, desirable, and admirable. Those who don’t have it, desire it. And are impressed with those who have.
15. Don’t Live to Impress. Live to Inspire. Give up your desire to impress everyone you meet. But never give up your desire to inspire everyone you meet.
Of course, the greatest thing about this list is that you already possess everything you need to inspire others. So why not get started?
Stop trying to impress others with the things that you own and begin inspiring them by the way you live your life. (tweet that)
Marko -- Calm Growth says
I have to say, I’m mighty impressed… Brilliant list Joshua, and I agree, we use external things, such as cars or mobile phones, to impress others, however, other people, does not care so much how expensive is your car, they care about how you behave in front of them.
I’d been more inspired by a man who has no car or house, but love life, than with a man who has a million dollars, but he hates life and himself. ;-)
I always feel better after reading your posts, Joshua, and this one’s no exception. I can’t decide which point is my favorite, but I especially like Nos. 11 and 15.
It’s hard sometimes to get past the need to fit in, especially if it affects your career. The most inspiring people I know also tend to be humbler and work in helping professions. A lot of people in positions of power, on the other hand, have gotten where they are by being aggressive, unkind, etc. Attractive and thinner people are paid more and treated better in general than those who aren’t, according to recent studies. It shouldn’t matter how much you weigh or what kind of clothing you wear, of course, but not everyone is as kind as they are here and elsewhere in the minimalist community.
I wish more people aspired to these goals, but it’s good to know they’re out there (and here).
Brilliant post, as always! Thanks, Josh for the wonderful insights you have shared here. What an inspiration!
Jennifer Wood says
AWESOME POST!!! I think this is one of my favorite posts yet… I am sharing with everyone I know! I was just thinking about this same “impress” mentality yesterday as I walked around a trade show for the company I work for… looking at $10,000 tables and $20,000 beds! It saddens me to think that most wealthy people spend their money on luxury “designer” items for short term gratification when they can use that money to help so many others in need. Thanks so much for being a wonderful inspiration to others and lighting the way to minimalism! It goes so much deeper that getting rid of “stuff” which you continue to prove post after post… :)
joshua becker says
Thanks Jennifer. Any life that doesn’t take time to examine the heart is a wasted life. That’s how so many of us get caught up in the rat-race in the first place.
Marc Morgan says
I think that this is the perfect time of year to get out into nature (your #11) and appreciate the beauty. I’ve started carrying a bag to pick up litter while hiking with my son. It is how we try to help locally.
Your posts always impress me. Thank you.
joshua becker says
Tell me about it! I live in Vermont and there is definitely a reason people come from all over the world to see it this time of year.
Gip @ So Much More Life says
Good job, as always. Unquenchable desire is the right phrase.
I don’t get by to comment as often as I did, but I’m always reading. My own blog keeps me busy, I suppose.
joshua becker says
Thanks for reading Gip. I’ve always enjoyed your comments. Good luck with your own blog.
This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Thanks!!
Joshua, thanks for sharing.
Note to self: Inspire others not impress with what we own.
Thanks for the gentle reminder :)
joshua becker says
You are welcome. We all need reminders – sometimes gentle, sometimes stronger.
Great list. Having a hard time picking just one though. I liked all of them.
I have long since given up trying to impress others with stuff.
Number 6 is speaking very loudly to me right now – it mixes well with “inspire others”. I didn’t realise I had lost sight of my strengths until I read your post and tried to name them. Once I’ve done that, I might be on my way to lovely Number 14.
Thanks for your words and your list. I do love a good list ;)
joshua becker says
I am certainly impressed with successful people. But as I have discovered that I can be impressed with successful people in all arenas of life, I realized that it is their drive and discipline to excel in their strengths that impresses me the most. And that is available to all of us.