I ran into an article the other day on “the high price of materialism.”
There wasn’t a great deal to it, the long and short of it being, apparently that “the pursuit of material objects makes us more unhappy.”
Which I think is right, as far as it goes; unfortunately, it’s only half a loaf.
As put so eloquently in this Alan Watts piece, we are raised from the ground up to never be happy in the moment.
We’re taught that happiness is always dependant on something coming up — buying that new car, finding that new relationship, getting that big promotion.
We are in a culture that lives and breathes “It would make me happy if only ______.”
Which is, of course, just flat wrong.
Nothing and nobody can “make you happy”.
You’ve got to go there all on your own.
If you can’t find something to be happy about today, right where you are sitting now, just one single solitary thing that’s “perfect”, never mind everything else (even if it’s just “Wow! This coffee has cooled to the exact right temperature”), you don’t get to be happy when you get that next big thing.
Because there’s always another next big thing after that.
Is it any wonder that so many of us consume mindlessly, with a continual and growing dissatisfaction? We keep buying and buying looking for that thing that will make us happy.
When the only thing that can make us happy is ourselves.
Is it any wonder that half of first marriages end in divorce? How many of those marriages ended when one partner went out looking for someone new to “make them happy”, since their old partner wasn’t getting the job done?
Of course the divorce rate is even higher for second and third marriages — once you’ve “traded in” the first time, it’s that much easier to do again.
The dating world is full of people whose lives are a wreck, but who insist they’d be happy if they could just find the right relationship (presumably someone else who feels the same way).
How often do you suppose two wrongs actually make a right?
Being happy just isn’t that hard.
First, you’ve got to realize that it’s up to you.
Second, you’ve got to decide you deserve to be happy.
Third, you’ve got to make up your mind to do it.
That’s a great place to start, anyway.