“We don’t need more money, we don’t need greater success or fame, we don’t need the perfect body or even the perfect mate. Right now, at this very moment, we have a mind, which is all the basic equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.”
As human beings we are all similar. We all struggle to get rid of our problems, we all pursue our goals and we all want to be happy. Reaching a real state of happiness might seems almost impossible, but probably the real reason we are not as happy as we wish lies in our mind rather than in the things we lack. Once a man has what he needs in order to fulfil his primary needs (a dwelling where to live, food to eat and clothing to protect himself) he has everything he needs in order to live a happy life.
Sadly nowadays people are always running after something better: a new job, a bigger house, some new clothes, a new car, etc. This overwhelming desire for a constant improvement might lead us to a better standard of life, but at the same time prevents us from savouring happiness in the present moment. When we keep pushing forward we see only what we miss and what we would like to have; we forget about what we already have, and about the things we should be already grateful for. Too many people keep saying “I will be happy only when I will get ..” and this leads to a society where the most common feeling are disappointment, lack and jealousy. Anyway complaining is not the answer, instead we should all open our eyes and figure out that happiness is real, and that it is not measured by the things we have.
Why we always want more
I truly believe that this constant desire to have more, to get something better is common among all human beings. I am like you, every day a new idea pops up in my mind and suddenly I realise that I want something new and that I won’t feel ok until I will get it. Sometimes I try to analyse my thoughts in a rational way, but even in this cases I find difficult to resist my cravings. Even if I keep telling myself that buying that thing won’t make me happy still the desire is there and with it also the little voice telling me “go and buy!”.
Not buying anything is not the answer. If you stop buying things your desires will be still there and you will have to struggle against them day after day. It will be like living in a paradox: you decided not to buy because you wanted to escape the frustration of wanting always more, and now you suffer because you can’t buy anything. The only way to fully solve the situation is to look deep inside ourselves and try to find out the reasons why we are always looking for something new. Only by spotting the real seeds of our cravings we can finally get rid of them. So let’s see some of the reasons we always want to buy something new:
- Western society. In our society we have an idea of the successful person as the wealthy one, the one with a lot of possessions and therefore we often make a huge mistake: we associate the concept of wealth with happiness. Anyway many researchers have shown that this connection doesn’t exist, that there are poor people who are much more happy than the rich ones. Happiness is a state of mind, not a measure of our possession or of the power we have gained, we should never forget it;
- Comparison with others. Another belief deeply ingrained in our mind is that we should always compare ourselves with others: our job is good only if our wage is the best of all the neighbourhood, our house is comfortable only if it’s the most expensive among our friend’s houses and so on. The problem is that we can’t stand out in everything, and therefore by comparing ourselves with other people we get nothing but a feeling of lack. If you can’t have a shining new car like the one of your neighbour don’t complain, be grateful you have one, if you don’t have a 50 inch TV like your friend don’t feel sad, you can watch the same programs in your 30 inch screen. We see these differences only because we choose to see them;
- Advertising. Every business that wants to survive needs to sell his products and as a consequence needs buyers, a lot of buyers. To make sure people buy your product you need to persuade them that they need it, that life will change once they buy it. Take a look at modern advertising: biscuits can make you happy, a smartphone can solve your problems, a pair of shoes promises to make you successful. Nowadays we can find advertising almost everywhere and so it’s hard not to fall in its trap, soon on later the idea that this or that thing might change in better our life will pop up in our mind and then it’s hard to get rid of it. Protect yourself from advertising, realise that all they want is just another customer;
- Fashion. Look around you, everything is changing, every year we use clothes with different styles, a five years old car has a completely different design from a new one, a fresh new gadget hits the market almost every month. We are sons of consumerism. Most of the times things get outdated not because they can’t do the job they were made for, but simply because a more fashionable one is available on the market. If we don’t buy the new version we feel overwhelmed, anxious, left aside. Most of the times the difference between following versions of the same item lies only in our mind, no matter which pair of shoes you have you can still go for a walk, a run or ride your bike.
- Obsolescence. Other times the producers force us to buy new things: often old laptop, smartphones and software don’t receive update and so we have to buy the newest versions in order to keep doing our job. In this case we can do little, in the past things were designed to last, now they aren’t.. we have to face it.
What can really make us happy
As we have seen things are not the key to happiness. Surely we need some of them to make our life easier, but once we have that basic equipment craving for more won’t make us happier, instead it would enhance a sense of frustration and lack.
Happiness lies in the way we look toward life, in the little things, in our emotions and experiences. A happy person knows that our mood has a strong influence on how we perceive reality and therefore tries to pick out the good in every situation. A happy person knows that it is essential to have good relationships and therefore listens to his friends trying to understand their needs. A happy person knows that our behaviour can change other’s mood and therefore is always willing to share a smile with you.