I have been on a wedding venue hunt for quite a few weeks now, even though the wedding is 6 months away!

Anyone who knows Indian weddings knows what an extravagance they are supposed to be - 1000s of guests, 10 starters, 5 main courses, 20 sweet dishes, 50 Unicorns, 75 fairies, bride and groom sparkling like lights (ok, ok, I went too far... it's mostly the bride sparkling :-P).

But being a 'logical person', I am not inclined towards that kind of a wedding, but, obviously, being Indian I don't get to decide that.

Enter... The Parents! (just kidding Mom :-P)
P.S: At least I got to pick my own wife-to-be!

To be fair to my parents, they are not the kind who show off. So like any average middle-class Indian family we collectively set out on this mission to find 'a decent, fairly priced venue'.
Sounds like a simple plan!

Whatever happened over the next few weeks perplexed me!
At the end of 3 weeks we found ourselves evaluating a bunch of 5-star hotels for the wedding!
What happened to the "decent, fairly priced venue"?

Please meet our guest for the evening: Status-driven thinking

Status is a complicated thing and it is one of those virtues that seem to be in deficit the more we acquire it, just like its cousin - Money (more on that later).

The above experience got me thinking and I took a trip down the rabbit hole.

It's our Great-Great-Great^2000 Grandparents fault

One of the best explanations I got was from Tim Urban on his blog 'Wait but Why'.
Tim takes us back thousands of years when being part of a tribe was critical to survival, it meant food and protection. And what was required to be accepted in a tribe? - the tribe folks had to like you!

This became the ultimate goal for humans of that era. The lower you are in the likeability ranking, the higher the risk of being thrown out of the tribe!

Higher likeability rank in your tribe = Staying alive!

And although humans evolved over time, being socially accepted into the tribe remained a critical aspect for survival - for thousands of years!

The actions we take to this effect have definitely evolved and look something like this these days...

  • Exclusive club memberships
  • Top engineering/MBA college degrees
  • Owning the latest iPhone
  • Followers/ likes on Social media
  • Driving an Audi
  • Talking about buying Bitcoin?!

Bad habits die hard,
'habits-inscribed-in-your-DNA' don't die at all!

Remember that bad habit you have since childhood of overeating your favorite snack ? (no one else?! seriously?)
That is what, at max 25-30 years of a habit which we haven't been able to break.

How do you break a habit inscribed in our DNA for over 100,000 years!?

I don't know!

But I am glad that I realized this effect on my hunt for a venue, where we kept eliminating venues based on what is socially expected/liked in our circle, aka, The Tribe.
Unconsciously, we were taking decisions to increase our likeability ranking!

Status as a Motivator

But status-driven thinking is not the all-consuming evil I made it out to be above. It can motivate you to a large extent to go above and beyond your capabilities. It evidently did help in my GMAT prep, when I signed up for the exam out of FOMO.

The mock tests made me quickly realize that this was not an easy exam!

But rather than the loss of the exam fee (it felt a lot as a student) or fear of not doing well on exams (it was never a big fear for me), it was the fear of losing face/status in my tribe that got me powered up, and how!

I went from a 650 in the mock tests to 740 in the actual exam in less than 25 days of status-thinking fueled prep (insert humble self-brag)!

Role of Status in Building your Passion

Status (and its many faces, like prestige, fame, recognition) and Money are important aspects of our society, and neither can survive without the other.

But what does survive without them is our internal happiness and fulfillment.

In fact, lasting happiness and fulfillment will survive only in the absence of Status and Money.

The challenge is to separate influence of this craving for Status and Money in the process of Building your Passion.

We do this repeatedly in our Build Your Passion workshop through two exercises:

  1. Avoiding social validation in the building phase
  2. Eliminating the influence of Status-driven thinking by eliminating it's biggest proponent: Social Media

What are your thoughts on role of Status-driven thinking in our lives?

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