How the 98% Actually Live

Over the years I've read thousands of articles, hundreds of books, and digested copious amounts of videos, podcasts, and other information on motivation, human development, and life in general.

What I've seen from all these gurus, experts, writers, and other news stories is that what is reported are the extremes. The best and the worst are written about. Nobody pays much attention to the middle. What we hear about is the top one percent and the bottom one percent.

Why don't we hear about the 98%? Because it's boring. The people who work day after day, week after week, do their jobs and be good to other people around them aren't reported about. The schoolteacher who donated $5,000 to the Red Cross isn't given an article. But if there is a shooting at that teacher's school, it will fill the airwaves for weeks.

The millionaire startup founders are written about. Donald Trump's every comment is discussed. The Kardashians have another new show.

The other 1% is also reported on. Any killers and murderers who could possibly live among us are shoved down our throat so we can live in constant fear that we're next. They keep reminding us that these people are out there.

However, the truth about reality is that it isn't newsworthy. When we wake up and start our day, doing what millions of others are also doing, it's not glamorous. We'll work hard, trying to better ourselves and our lives, but articles aren't written about it.

When was the last time you heard about Don, the hard-working sales rep who just got a promotion, and now is proud of himself for all the work he put in? Never, because that's normal. Reality isn't extravagant. It's dealing with bosses, coworkers, money, relationships, and the stress of expectations that we experience.

I recently went on vacation and watched a few hours of TV for the first time in months. I watched a few different shows, but it all seemed so scripted. Even the reality TV wasn't reality. They had to package multiple story lines and multiple characters into a half-hour show with commercials. So basically, I watched 10-second clips of someone, then they switched to the next person.

Snookie from the Jersey Shore said that while they were filming, everybody would sit in their house for hours every night and just talk, having a great time. The film crew never showed any of that. But if someone got mad or raised their voice, that was the trailer for the next week's episode. The same thing happens with Shark Tank. Those investors listen to those pitches for hours, sometimes asking hundreds of questions, yet only about 15 minutes of the discussion is packed into the hour-long episode.

Today in society, I feel like we are watching highlights on the outside but living reality on the inside. And reality is tough. It's messy, complex, uncomfortable, and there's typically no easy answer. Reality isn't packaged with a little bow as we ride off into the sunset. As long as we are alive, we have to live with ourselves.

For younger people it's even harder. We are inundated with the glamour of everybody around us, and when we do our best but don't live up to it, that's when the depression sets in. When other people are more successful, have more money, or are skinnier than us, that's when the comparisons start and our own internal hatred begins. We might provide a happy face on the outside but on the inside it's not going away. The media will continue to shove the 1% down our throats and there's nothing we can do about it.

This is why it's so important to be dedicated to our own self-improvement. We can't control anybody else. What we can control is what we focus on. We decide if we'll look at every trending article, or if we'll shut off our phone so we can focus. We decide if we'll feel depressed about the young millionaires who never have to work again, or if we'll buckle down even more, knowing and trusting that we are on our own journey.

The world today is not straightforward. It takes a lot of effort to be who you want to be. But when we understand that life doesn't need to be glamorous, we can feel better that even though it may be boring, we are still making our mark in the world in a way that only we can.

Then we can know that being a part of the 98% isn't so bad after all.