I want you to think about something.
When was the last time you felt really “happy”? I mean, really happy? Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? Why did you feel so happy?
Most likely it wasn’t from something you wore, bought or owned. Chances are it probably involved an experience, accomplishment, or moment with someone you really cared about.
Now think about something else.
Open your closet. Look at everything you have in your room and in your house. All the stuff, the furniture, the appliances, electronics, and clothing. How often do we fool ourselves to think our happiness is based on that crap. Would you believe me if I told you that you don’t need a majority of those things to be truly happy?
If you really think about it, we really don’t need that much to get by. Regardless of this reality, many of us still have an excess of possessions that we don’t even really need but think we do.
“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
We are led to believe that material things are the key to happiness. Television, billboards, movies, and media are always trying to get us to believe we have problems we don’t have to buy things we really don’t need. We become the perfect consumer fueling are positive emotions by spending our money on stuff that is basically just that …..stuff.
Most of us aren’t even conscious of this self-denial. We run on autopilot and accept that job we don’t really like that pays a lot to make money to buy those things we don’t really even need.
Perhaps, you did really like that new shirt you got. I am sure that temporary endorphin rush felt good from putting it on, and showing it off to your coworkers on Monday.
Then come Thursday, the new gets old. The high is gone, the clock resets and we do it all over again. A vicious cycle of disappointment. You buy another shirt to be new then old and another and then another. Rinse and repeat with your pants, shoes, car, house and then question why you have to have that high paying job, work that overtime and wonder whether or not you really even need the money.
But unlike money which we can always earn, we tend to forget that what we are actually wasting is time.
The truth is once we realize that we don’t need much to be happy, that’s when we break away from the cycle and let ourselves be free. Instead of collecting or hoarding material things that don’t really give our lives meaning, we should spend our resources, money and time, on experiences. Spend money on a new hobby or sport or learning a new skill. Growing even the most basic of levels gives a feeling of self-fulfillment that fuels happiness and spurs you to keep improving. The important thing is the experience.
The best thing about experiences is how you can share them with people. Finding something you love to do and sharing it with someone you care really does create those meaningful moments of real happiness.
Life is short. Nobody has ever laid in their deathbed regretting that they didn’t spend more time in the office to buy more shirts. When you look back on your life, you’ll wish you had done more, learned more, seen more, loved more, been more, experienced more. Took more risks, moved towards fear and started living your life aligned with your own desires .
But it’s not too late. I’m not saying quit your job and be a hippie. I’m just saying think about what is really important to you. Take a break. Practice Poverty. Think about if what you think you need is actually what you need. Don’t compare your life with others. Find what moves you and never let go of it.
So let’s go back to the beginning. When was the last time you felt really “happy”? I mean, really happy? Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? Why did you feel so happy? Those are your values. Now start living your life by them.