THE NEXT BEST THING …
If there was a ‘official slogan’ to best describe the new-age throw-away culture that seems to pervade the world we live in – perhaps it would be ‘The Next Best Thing’. Most people spend a considerable amount of their time pondering on the next best thing … the latest mobile phone – the latest song to come out – the latest pair of jeans – the latest car – the latest move on the mat, etc.
For many of us, this provides a certain kind of motivation – in wanting the next best thing, we become energized to move forward and achieve … but quite often, the satisfaction we feel, is only temporary – as we suddenly realise we aren’t all that satisfied, and we begin our search for the next, next best thing - after all, the un-chewed grass always looks a little greener - at first.
Sometimes, the search for the next best thing can be a fairly harmless exercise – perhaps it’s just another mobile phone, or camera. Sometimes though, it is harmful, in that we walk away from much more important things, like family, a good marriage, good friends, from people who have counselled us or mentored us faithfully, to search for the next best girlfriend/wife, group of friends or salesman who cheerily promises us the world, and more.
Now I am all for everyone trying to improve their position, but it’s important to draw a careful distinction between ‘improving our position’ and ‘seeking out the next best thing’ just for the sake of experiencing a ‘change of scenery’. Some changes are important, indeed, necessary for our growth as human beings - but change just for change sake can often lead to regret or the beginning of an endless cycle of searching.
On the mat, especially with our addiction to all things Youtube – it’s easy to be hypnotized by the next best move. It’s nice to be aware of it, even take some level of ownership and understanding of it – but consider carefully before dropping your whole game for the sake of trying out this ever-more-tantalizing next best move. The never-ending search for the next best thing can also be contagious. Many people do not want to shift from where they are without the support of their friends – so they try hard to convince others of the benefits of the next best thing, in the hope that their choice will be made by others and therefore, ratified or justified to some degree. We decide to head out and buy an I-phone, and so we try to convince everyone else to do the same.
This happens in martial arts schools all the time. For whatever reason, a student decides to join another school, and in an effort to convince him or herself that he or she has made a good decision, he or she talks his decision up to others and tries to have them make the move as well. This has happened to nearly every good instructor I know, including Jean Jacques Machado, Rigan Machado, Benny the Jet Urquidez, Tino Ceberano, myself and countless others. It is often heartbreaking for the instructor, who may have put in years or even decades of effort into training their student; but it is simply the way of the world in which we live – people are always looking for the next best thing and probably, they always will.
On the flip side of course, the next best thing might be something very positive; like deciding to learn another language or bettering our situation for our families – we should just be mindful of living congruently and making decisions carefully, before we head out in pursuit of the next best thing.
Live well everyone, make decisions which are best for you and your loved ones; but remember, one of the great secrets to real and lasting happiness is to learn to find deep enjoyment and contentment right where you are, right now – with the friends, family, stuff (and techniques) you already have.