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Gregoris Kalai Headshot

The Jay Gatsby in All of Us

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There is a Jay Gatbsy in all of us. Despite our best efforts to be content and happy with what ever our current circumstances are, we have evolved to want more. More what?

Well, more of anything and everything. After all, that is the American dream, embodied in the smell of a new car or that of new shoes. The list goes on and on.

After watching Baz Luhrmann's recent depiction of Fitzgerald's masterpiece, I saw a side of Gatsby that is rarely zeroed in on. After practically restructuring his life to fit into Daisy's vision of an ideal man, they eventually hug. Though while they are caught in an embrace, Gatsby seem to have forgotten about Daisy and had instead shifted his focus on a faraway green light.

"Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred...Now it was again a green light on a dock.
His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one."

That moment is possibly where we see Gatsby at his purest. He has pursued someone for a long time and the moment he held them close, they were no longer good enough. That feeling, isolated, is a part of human psyche wired so deep in all of us that we cannot help but fall victim to it.

While Gatsby's opulence and grandiose is foreign to many, that feeling is something all we are all familiar with. In light of the American Dream, that seems perfectly okay. However, deep inside it is clear that if we all appreciate the feats we have achieved, we would be happy with them for longer.

This is not to say ambition is a bad thing. We, as a society, are hardwired to be ambitious and to achieve. But if we were ever going to be truly happy, we need a little more. That extra mile is appreciation. Because either one without the other is not enough for a fulfilling life. Tim Ferriss puts it nicely:

"Achievement without appreciation makes you ambitious but miserable.
Appreciation without achievement makes you unambitious but happy."

So if that means making a few extra hours each week to spend with loved ones, or calling the grandmother you rarely get around to calling--then great. That is what it takes to appreciate the people and things responsible for where you are today.

Then, as you grow to appreciate what you already have, you can think about maybe building it into something bigger and better.