My blog topics often come to me out of nowhere. Sometimes it is when I see an injustice, sometimes it is when a friend or co-workers happens to say something that really captures my interest, sometimes it is when I see a memorable or inspirational story or quote, and yes, sometimes it comes to me at 4:00 a.m.
I often think it is also used as a requirement, a check-list, if you will. If you have "enough" of whatever your desires are, you then feel like you should and will be happy.
"People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within." -- Ramona L. Anderson
As I mentioned already, I think quantifying things in this way can be really dangerous. If you are looking towards material objects to fulfill voids and make you happy, you can find yourself in a life where you are never satisfied, never content where you are and in the moment and always wanting more. I am not trying to say that there are not some basics needs we all rely on as human beings to live and thrive, including, food, water, shelter and our health. However, you always hear about people who live in very remote areas of this world with very little material possessions being some of the happiest people in the world. Why are they so happy with so little, while there are so many Westerners miserable, with so much?
When I am most present in any moment, I try and remember that with food, water, shelter and my health, I really do have enough. I have what I need externally to survive. I then remember that hypothetically, I also have all I need internally, as well, that should allow me to not only survive, but also be happy. I truly believe you cannot find your happiness externally.
"If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you." —Lao Tzu
Looking towards other people, fame, fortune, the biggest house, power, the most amazing wardrobe, career, etc to find your happiness is dangerous. This isn't to say you cannot find wonderful happy moments with friends, family and loved ones. I just think you could be with the most amazing people in the world and married to the most wonderful man or woman in the world, but unless you are happy with yourself, that will not make a difference. It isn't to say you cannot have happy moments, but I really think you need to find your happiness within.
Why is it dangerous to try and find your happiness from others?? I feel like there are two main reasons why it is dangerous to try and find your happiness outside of yourself. The first danger lies in the fact that any of these could exit your life at any moment (you have no control over them). You could lose your job, your house, your career, your fortune and even loved ones in your life. The second reason being that it really sets you up for failure and almost impossible expectations. If you are constantly looking to the media, family and friends to help you figure out what you need to survive and be "happy", and to help you determine what your threshold of "enough" really is, you may spend so much time feeling like you do not have enough that you couldn't possible be happy and content with where you are in this very moment.
If you are spending so much of your time and energy trying to get more and more of whatever you feel will make you most happy and not truly enjoying every moment, you are going to miss out on those moments in life that will truly make you happy. If you are constantly on the hampster wheel of life, just continuing to go and go and go, because you are sure that making another 20 K a year will make you happy, or being promoted will make you happy, or getting a boyfriend will make you happy, or losing 40 pounds will make you happy, you are never being present. You are always just thinking about what you don't have and what you aren't experiencing.
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not trying to say it isn't important to have goals. Of course it is important to keep learning and working on yourself. It is important to have life goals, whether they be personal or professional, or both. It is also important to be realistic about what you do need in life to logistically maintain the lifestyle you need to survive. There is, however, a big difference in reality between what you need and what you want. It is also important to understand what helps keep your mind at ease, what helps you find peace in this world. It is important to keep all of this in mind when thinking about lifestyle, career, expectations and responsibilities. If you were promoted to a Director and made 20 K more a year and suddenly found yourself working 20 more hours a week, spending less times with those who matter most with you and no longer working on your favorite project, in the end, would you really be "happier?"
I hear people constantly wanting more and just never having enough of whatever it is they want and need, that entire X factor scenario. I have no doubt I do it as well. I try hard to catch myself and play devil's advocate with myself. Would X really make things 100% better, would it really help? If the answer is honestly yes and I am able to still find happiness and appreciation, knowing that X would help, than you better bet I am going to work hard to achieve X.
I realize I am rehashing this all a bit, but I feel like I hear it all the time, people wanting more of something and thinking that will change everything. As I just mentioned, there are no doubt instances where this is fact, X will make such and such better and in turn make me happier. If there is someone that owe $10,000 on a house and they will lose that house without that $10,000, the fact is that they do not have enough money to keep their house, which is obviously awful and I cannot even imagine what that must feel like.
I am talking more about those folks who just never seem to be satisfied, they continue on that wheel of life and never stop and take notice and stock in what they do have. How grateful they should be. It isn't to say they shouldn't want and desire more and it isn't to say that they may never receive what they desire. All I am saying is that we are not really owed anything in life. We really never know what may happen to us and when. There are no guarantees. If you spend your entire life never being happy, settled and content in your daily grind you could find yourself at the end of your life, still wanting more and never having moments of appreciation and gratefulness. I cannot imagine wishing my entire life away, only to find I never appreciated what I had the entire time. It is like Dorothy almost, if she had only realized she had the power the entire time to just go home. If we only realized we had the power within us to find our happines. It isn't to say it is easy and it isn't to say we don't need support, but it is there.
What is it about Western culture? I cannot claim to be a world traveler, but I do feel like this more, more, more mentality is definitely American, if nothing else. Bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger portions, bigger salaries, etc. We clearly feel like it is important and necessary to have more. Is this some left-over complex from our difficult financial times, or is a capitalist society just set up to be like this. In order to have winners, you have to have losers. With less and less of the available "pie" to go around, everyone is like a bear about to hibernate, gathering as much as they can to survive the winter, if you will. Maybe in America there is no such thing as "enough," sadly, maybe it is taught to us to always want and expect more?
I am not sure if any of these analogies really work, but I just wonder how we can get back to the less is more mentality. That seems to be healthier for everyone. From problems with obesity to the debt crisis. I think there is so much in our culture today that just shows how dangerous "never enough" can be. If nothing else, Weight Watchers has taught me what a real and true "portion" size is. I understand everyone wants a deal and everyone wants to get more bang for their buck, but unfortunately it has only brought about more health concerns and other stressors.
You always hear that the hunger problem is solvable, within our reach if we would only address it. That as a world we produce enough food to feed everyone that lives on this planet, yet we don't. If that truly is the case, then why are there so many millions that go hungry every day. Does it all lead back to the "we" vs. "I" society?
I have tried to keep politics out of my blogs, as I truly believe politics are like religion. It is really hard to change someone's beliefs. However, I am definitely a "we" kind of person. If I was wealthy, I would rather have more of my money going to help others, than asking someone that made less. I would be willing to pay a higher percentage to help ensure more people had access to health care, education, unemployment benefits, etc. That is just me. I don't expect the elderly and poor to be expected to carry as big of a responsibility.
I do like to think there aren't any problems outside our reach. I like to think there are no problems too big. The challenge being the theory of "enough." If everyone is holding on really tightly to their piece of the pie, they will not be willing to give up and sacrifice in order to advance society and culture. Many of our upcoming battles take more than a city, a state or a country, some of them are global. Are we ready to redefine what "enough" means to us?
When people offer us more than we want or need, we often have a hard time saying no. Where does this come from? I still feel bad if someone cooks for me, or brings me food, if I don't eat it all. I still have this "must clean my plate mentality", even if I am full. More, more, more.
Living in 300+ square has also made me realize the actual need for space and shelter for survival purposes. We have a tiny apartment and sure we could use more space, our apartment wouldn't be as cluttered, we would fit actual guests, maybe a spare bedroom, maybe we would get a dog. However, do we NEED more space, in all honesty....no? I have to say, when I go home and look at the sizes of houses, it amazes me. I cannot begin to imagine what I would do with all of that space. Don't get me wrong, I loved growing up in a nice-sized house, with a huge yard to play in. I just realize the older I get that it was not a necessity, it was a luxury. I am not owed a big house and I shouldn't think I need a big house to be happy. I am quite content in my 300+ square feet apartment.
So you don't make as much money as her or you weigh so much more than him, so what?? You are here, today!! Take a few minutes to listen to the rain outside, or go outside and look up at the stars, smell the grass, pet your cat or dog a few extra times, hug your kids, tell your parents you love them. Trust me, there will be a day when any of these things will feel like enough and all you wish for.
We have bigger houses but smaller families:
We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgements;
more experts but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We've been all the way to the moon and back,
but we have trouble crossing the street
to meet the new neighbour.
We build more computers
to hold more information,
to produce more copies than ever,
but we have less communication.
We have become long on quantity
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods,
but slow digestion;
tall man, but short character;
steep profits, but shallow relationships.
It is time when there is much in the window
but nothing in the room.
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
Coming up next:
What 5 year olds teach me
And thats all she wrote....