The Next Big Thing: How To Be Happy In A World That Conditions Us To Want More
What a haunting sentence. Imagine knowing, for the rest of your life, no matter what you do, you'll never truly find happiness. This isn't the beginning of a macabre Poe story; this is reality, unless we start to change the way we view things.
We want to be content in all areas of our lives. We don't want to spend the weekend dreading Monday morning, or spend the workday dreading the return to our home lives.
Of course, there are other things we all want: maybe a flashy car, a sweet penthouse and, perhaps, romantic relations of some kind. We only want these things, however, because we think they will contribute to our overall happiness.
We know that once we get that new car, penthouse or significant other, we'll be over the moon with happiness. We'll never want for anything again -- at least, that's what we tell ourselves.
Ever notice, however, that once we get that one thing we've been striving for, our happiness is short-lived?
Let me paint a picture for you: It's the late 90s, around Christmas time. I'm 8 or 9 years old with crooked teeth, pigtails and convinced that I absolutely need a "bubble chair." Remember those inflatable, brightly-colored pieces of furniture that were absolutely, without a doubt, useless?
There I am, in the mall with my parents, pitching a next-level fit because I want this blue bubble chair in the window display. I promised I'd never ask them for anything again. It was the only thing I wanted in the whole world, and the waterworks proved it.
Do you hate me, yet? I was a brat, all because of a f*cking inflatable chair, and I got it because I was spoiled, and I used it -- about twice.
The point of that darling anecdote, aside from revealing that I was a whiny child, is to demonstrate how quickly something can cease to be important to us once we actually attain it. The damn chair was all I wanted, but once I got it, I wanted something else. It wasn't enough.
Sure, once you get something you really want, you'll be walking around smiling like a weirdo for a few days or weeks. Eventually, though, the shine of everything wears off. You'll no longer be content with having whatever thing you've convinced yourself you needed so badly. The desire for something else will replace it.
This is why you will never be happy.
You'll never be happy because you've convinced yourself that there's something more out there; that things are more important than people and people are replaceable. You'll spend $800 on a cell phone because you've convinced yourself you need it.
Side note: I think we've really lost appreciation for those old Nokias. Those screens would not crack, but I digress. You'll never be happy because you're insatiable, and you've become a glutton for all things. Try not to worry, though; you're not alone.
It's a generational problem, as I like to believe most things are. Would you know how awesome all your friends' relationships were if they weren't posting status updates everything 3.5 seconds? Maybe you'd be more content in your relationship if you didn't know what was going on in theirs.
Would you really care about the latest technological gadgets if they weren't shoved down your throat daily through advertisements? Probably not.
We've been conditioned to want more, so it's essentially not our fault. The good news is, there's hope for us. We can change this effed-up cycle and hopefully learn to be content with what we have.
Of course, we should all set goals for ourselves and try to reach them. That's part of growing as an adult. If your goal is to live in a villa-style mansion, wallpapered in $100 bills, then more power to you.
While I find it excessive, I wouldn't hold it against you. I would, however, hold it against you if it were only your goal so you could adapt to societal norms and standards.
It's perfectly fine to be content with what you have. Your life isn't lacking in some way because it doesn't always match up with the standards set by others.
The grass is greener where you water it. We'll find happiness when we stop insisting that the things/people/events in our lives are, for some inexplicable reason, not enough.
We'll find happiness when we learn to appreciate the things we have, instead of overlooking them in our quest for the next best thing. We are responsible for attributing value to the things in our lives. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?
Stop belittling the things and people around you. When we stop pitching fits over trivialities (read: the godforsaken bubble chair), that's when we'll be happy.
Until then, we're pretty much screwed.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It