Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Quest for Happiness

The world seems to have gone on a crazy binge in search of the elusive feeling of happiness. According to TV, media, cultural gurus, movies, etc, we need to live our lives in an eternal state of bliss. Where can you find this bliss? Well of course they are there to tell you...

First, you must buy something bigger and better than what you have. If you don't have one, you better go get one because you're depriving yourself of the American dream. Look down the street...the Jones have a self propelled mower? You need a riding lawn mower! They have a Ford? You need a Lexus! Then everyone will see how great your life is and KNOW that you are happy. And just knowing that will make YOU happy.

Second, you must beautify everything around you. This is where the home improvement networks and retail stores come in. Get a gardening service, contract a landscaper. Remodel your house. Upgrade those fixtures and appliances! New carpeting! New furniture to match the new carpeting! A fresh coat of paint and a trip to the Container store should do it!

Third, you MUST be organized!! Who can be happy in chaos? File those papers, alphabetize those DVDs, label the drawers, and get a planner.

Fourth, stay current in your techno-gadgets. You're phone must email, take pictures, store your calendar, play MP3s, and send you reminders when you're out of milk. You're laptop must only be access via fingerprint and have all the latest software! You must have the biggest and best monitor you, or anyone else, has EVER seen. You just KNEW that blue ray was going to win out and replaced all your movies appropriately. You've been wireless since before we knew that we were wired! Latest game console? You've got it. You're a whiz at Guitar Hero, and have 5 level 70s in WoW. And don't even get you started on your home theater system, it will blow the clothes off anyone who dares to test it.

Fifth, you must be a connoisseur of all wines (red in particular), the best restaurants in town for any type of cuisine you might be asked about, as well as able to list any liquor that's been made in the last 200 years. This shows you have good taste, and well happy people must have good taste.

Sixth, if you are a woman, you must know and own at least one pair of the season's hottest designers shoes, sunglasses or purse - or at least have a knock-off. Less important, but still up there would be clothes. Happy people are of course beautiful people.

And finally, although not really the final thing - I'm just wrapping it up for brevity's sake-, you should find a good self-help book that puts your mind in the happy place - whether through, meditation, weight loss, pop-psychology, or whatever.

And tada!!! You're happy!

Or are you? ...

Then again, are we supposed to be happy all the time? Are we supposed to obtain every want and desire until our house are stuffed with crap and our credit cards maxed out? And what would happen if we didn't get everything we wanted? And what if we weren't beautiful? And our houses weren't perfect? And our cars weren't the best? And we didn't need yet another book to tell us how to think and feel? What if we weren't always organized? What if there were spoons in with the forks and nothing was labeled??!!

I have lusted for and tried to obtain a lot of what I talked about. I have bought stacks of books telling me that they were going to transform my life! I have planned and decorated and organized. I have bought the SUV. And I watch TV and am bombarded by the next thing that will make me REALLY happy. I see the new weight loss commercial and think "Oooh, that could be me in 6 weeks!" I see the cool car and think, maybe I wouldn't be such a dork if I drove something like that". And the shoe adds that make me think, "I know I have ugly pudgy (and now preggo swollen) feet, but THOSE shoes might make them look good!" Or "Yes! I'll just take this magic pill and I'll lose weight". "Whoa, my life would be so much easier if I got pancake puff maker".

So, I think it may come as no big surprise that I have discovered something...these things don't bring happiness. I know, I'm slow...

And I don't think I want happiness all the time. I prefer my happiness to come in special moments. Like the first time Hayden giggled or gave me a kiss. That's what makes them so happy, the quick brief bliss.

But what I would like is some peace and contentment. To be content with who I am, who I have to love in my life, and what I have been given. Everyone has to walk their own way to that, I'm no advice giver. I've found it in God, but there will be no preaching in this blog, only authenticity. I won't pretend to be who I'm not, but I won't ask you to be anyone either.

This post is really just about me wanting to change my attitudes and turn off the constant inflow of false information that's trying to tell me I need more stuff!!!! I could list about a hundred things that I "need", but in all honesty I don't need any of them. Let's see what life is like when I turn off the "instant gratification" button, and try not getting my way all the time...


LeftyMama said...

Here, here! Everything she said. Hard to do in a market-driven, capitalist society, but we can always do our best to swim against the current.

A few weeks ago, I saw some report that said Danes (people from Denmark) are the happiest people on earth by objective socio-economic and psychological measures. Funny thing is, they're not wealthy or powerful or trendy or any of the other things that seem to be components of the "American Dream." Rather, their basic human needs (food, shelter, health, family, community) are all met (due to the social/economic system), and they don't have this sense that something is missing or that they need to keep up with anyone else's achievement (because everyone around them has a very similar standard of living). Additionally, the culture does not place such a high value on material possessions.

Interesting food for thought....

Just Me said...

Great article!! I love it. I agree, social connections are what it's all about!

Anonymous said...

No matter how much I agree, the sad hard part is knowing others don't see it this way.