So today as I was walking around the city I saw a shirt that read “Haters are my Motivation.” And all I could think was “what a terrible motivation.” And as often happens with me I just couldn’t get this random thirty-second encounter out of my head. I mean I see where she’s coming from, it sounds like a quote someone would post on Tumblr.
In a direct sense, I suppose it’s only fair to admit that it probably means that if you already have “haters” you shouldn’t let it affect you negatively and instead let it fuel your fire to succeed. Yet why hold on to wounded pride as a motivator, isn’t there greater freedom in taking a page from Princess Elsa’s playbook and completely letting it go?
In my experience the road to happiness is love and if your pride is wounded it is indicative that you insist on loving yourself for a reason instead of loving yourself simply because you are. And using your success as revenge to give you a smug satisfaction in being able to lord it over your enemies is a weak band-aid at best, because then instead of having one group of people consumed with hate you have two, the original haters and yourself who responded to their hatred of you with a mutual hatred for them. And, ironically, I would argue that loving your enemies is the better path because it allows you to reject harboring hatred in your heart and avoid the ultimate punishment of becoming exactly like them.
So have I over-thought this t-shirt? Absolutely. Over-thinking is one of my talents. But I point it out because the world always encourages you to be happy by satisfying yourself by every worldly standard, by “earning” every luxury, success, and victory. It is a model that insists your happiness should depend on attaining some worldly thing, whether it be success, or a nice car, or a committed relationship, and your power and self-worth is subsequently determined by how successful you are in getting that thing. “Haters” may fuel your desire to get that thing you want even more and you could, if you wanted to, rub it in their face when you get it.
But this way of life is a lie because it makes you a slave, a slave to whatever it is you are desiring because it makes your happiness contingent on the things of this world. Not the things that you have in the present moment but the things you anticipate having in your future, a future which is unreliable and cannot be controlled as much as society would lead you to believe. Moreover, even if you do accomplish your goal the feeling of accomplishment is not by its nature able to perpetually satisfy you and at best you will just end up in this cycle again as you pursue the next desire.
And I point this out because on a personal level I want more to my life than a succession of 5-year plans designed with outpacing my competition and my “haters” in mind. I firmly believe it’s so much easier to be happy simply by letting God love you because then your happiness can be as constant as God Himself.
And why complicate something so wonderfully and profoundly simple as that?