Why we seek social status

Prestige is a false God

It is natural to desire status as humans. Many things can give us status in society:

  1. Social reputation and popularity: Being well-known and well regarded in our community

  2. Physical appearance: There's a well-documented phenomenon called the attractiveness bias. We tend to perceive attractive people as more competent, intelligent, and trustworthy. This provides a lot of leverage in our work and personal lives.

  3. Achievements: Career progression; job titles; the type of job we can get; the company we work for

  4. Networks: Who we know; who we hang out with; our family background

  5. Material possessions: House, car, watch, bag

We chase status because in the past, social status meant better chances of survival and reproduction.

Higher status individuals likely had access to more resources, protection within the group, and were more desirable mates. This is still true in our society today.

This pursuit of status can be a double-edged sword.

While it can motivate us to achieve and contribute, focusing too much on external validation can lead to unhappiness and a never-ending chase for more.

How can we keep this in check?

Reflect on your why

Ask yourself why you crave status. Is it validation, a sense of belonging, or something else?

Addressing the root cause can help you find alternative ways to fulfill those needs.

Knowing your why also helps you play the long game. I am always mindful that good will pays more than glory. Keeping my eye on this prize has helped me build many meaningful industry relationships and helped my reputation too.

Do not let the pursuit of status overshadow your purpose

You only live once and it is important to be true to your values and purpose. Otherwise, you might find yourself playing other people’s games and winning the prizes that mean little to you.

Being in touch with ourselves and reflecting constantly can ensure the pursuit of status does not overshadow the things that truly matter to us.

Not following the crowd has led to many rewards:

  • Getting into Tech Sales before it became cool and prestigious. Back when I was in JC, the prestigious thing to do was to go into accountancy. Imagine if I had gone down that path! Life will be so different.

  • Prioritizing freedom over glory: Buying a property that is smaller and cheaper than my peers have even though they earn significantly less than me.

  • Living in alignment with my values: Not buying branded bags because I do not wish for an animal to die to become an accessory for me.

Happiness ultimately comes from meaningful relationships

While possessions may provide fleeting moments of happiness or temporary validation, they are ultimately superficial and unable to sustain genuine fulfilment.

In contrast, meaningful relationships not only bring joy, love, and support, but they also reflect our values, empathy, and ability to connect with others in a profound way.

In our pursuit of goals, never neglect deeper relationships which ultimately bring us the most happiness.

Being present

It truly bewilders me when I see couples eating together but both of them are looking at their phones.

I have a personal rule that I do not use or even check my phone in 1-1 setting. I avoid even taking it out of my bag.

I get a lot of screen time at work. This means most of my youth and life has been spent looking at a screen. I’d rather not do so when I can.

More importantly, I feel it is about respect towards the other person.

Why go on a date with a partner or spend time with a friend when you are not engaging with them?

Are you truly connecting with someone if you are sitting physically next to each other but watching someone else’s life on social?

Why everyone should strength train

I used to be the type of person who mostly did cardio: Cycling and swimming.

I thought that as long as I was active, that meant I could be healthy.

I also believed if I lifted heavy weights, I would become ‘too muscular’.

This was before I learned the importance of building muscle and how it is linked to metabolic health.

Many diseases like bad skin, anxiety, depression, infertility, insomnia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer… all stem from the same root cause - Poor metabolic health.

Strength training is key to improving that. It helps our cells to be optimally powered so that they can create 'good energy', the essential fuel that impacts every aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing.

It has been proven to be more effective than cardio when it comes to reducing diabetes risk and Alzheimer’s risk. It can also increase our bone density.

Other benefits includes higher energy level throughout the day, better sleep, better focus, improved mood and looking better - which helps our career and personal lives.

I would highly encourage everyone who just focused on cardio only to also do strength training.

I still cycle every week but strength training has since become a more regular part of my routine.

Dr Gabrielle Lyon is a functional medicine physician and explains what the points I shared above really well. Click on the timestamps to watch the video:

  • 01:32 We are not over fat but under-muscled

  • 04:26 What makes muscle so protective as an organ?

  • 11:22 How insulin resistance affects the body.

  • 1:21:47 The myths surrounding kids and exercise/tech

  • 1:33:33 Making the case for the benefits of strength training

Want to start your fitness journey and try out strength classes and new gyms? ClassPass is giving 20 bonus credit to friends of mine.

I am a Singaporean tech worker and content creator. Every week, I share ideas on how we can become our best selves in our career; finance; health and relationships.

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