Things were expected to last in my parents’ generation. Clothes and shoes were handed down from one child to another. A tear on a dress meant a trip to the fundi who put a patch on the item. Shoes would be resoled and repaired until there was little holding them together other than glue and black string.
What made things last so long? Quality construction? Probably. I inherited a blow drier from my mother and my children use it to this day. However, I also believe that our parents were better at taking care of stuff. In our time, we were introduced to the concept of short-term use items. From paper cups and plates for parties, to disposable clothes and syringes, cameras and diapers that thankfully replaced baby nappies.
As only they can, our children took it to the next level. They are so sold to the concept of upgrades, new editions, or latest technology that they expect their phones and video games to be for short-term use. This short-term thinking is so ingrained that they buy into miracle cures and get-rich-quick schemes. In one lifetime, they may change careers every few years. Contrast that with our parents who worked in one or two organisations their whole life.
While youthful impatience works for cars, cell phones and technology, much of life requires that we take the slow, stable, quality construction approach. Life asks that we become good managers, investing for the long term in our health, relationships, career and finances. Whatever we value, whatever is important should last a lifetime, not merely a year.
Consider this: Quick fixes such as fad diets and slimming pills that promise to destroy in a few months, the monster you created in a decade are too good to be true. And they are. The careful approach is to practice healthy, daily habits consistently over time. Do not run down your health because there are no spare parts for your body.
Wellness guru and creator of the website BE Well, Dr Frank Lipman, believes humans can live to 120 years.
He says in mindbodygreen.com, “Wellness is much more than about what you eat and how many times a week you go to the gym. It encompasses how you sleep, how you move, how you relax and unwind, how you protect yourself from the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis and how you connect with yourself, your family, friends and community, and the world at large. And probably most importantly, it's about how much love and support you have in your life.
It’s usually determined by the small choices you make on a daily basis, how much you laugh, how kind you are to others, how much time you spend in nature, how much fun you have, how many close intimate relationships you have, and generally how you make your daily habits healthy.”
Finance gurus constantly tell us that time and compounding interest are our best bets at creating wealth. Spending less than you earn, choosing quality finance products, getting out of debt and investing will help you create generational wealth. Get-rich-quick schemes will lead you to a few con artists, and you might become one in the process. The results are usually better when you build for longevity.
Warren Buffett takes the long term view in investing. He says, "Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years." How long before you sell? He says, "Our favourite holding period is forever."
The same is true in our relationships. The best relations are built to last, over time, over years of growing in closeness, understanding and mutual respect. They are also destroyed over time, with neglect and lack of affection.
Marianne Williamson insists that “Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.” Unlike our phones, some things really should be built to last a lifetime.