We all have an innate desire to seek happiness and fulfillment. But how we define these nebulous terms and go about our quest for the good life can vary dramatically among us. Many of us follow the path of materialism to the very end, perfectly exemplified by the maxim, He who dies with the most toys, wins. The mantra spills over into our daily conscience: If I could only buy that [insert your fav luxury German car here], then I know I will be happy; If I could only move to a bigger house, then I will surely be filled with joy. This logic also works on a micro, almost daily, level too whether it’s a bigger tv, a smarter phone or designer shoes. Only problem is it’s a never ending cycle, constantly repeating itself and begging for a refresh i.e, you buy that bigger version or upgrade to a newer model only to be seduced into the desire to take it to the next level moments later.
But once we go through a few iterations of this, we may notice a pattern of fleeting, and ultimately, futile experiences. Sure, we get that adrenaline rush from a new car smell – we’re flying high, showing it off to the neighbors, feeling like a million bucks. But like a caffeine jolt, it slowly fades away leaving a new empty void you now need to fill by searching for the next new high. Nothing seems sadder than seeing a lot of unhappy people driving some really sweet rides.
I was on that seductive path for many years, subscribing to the theory that if one surrounds himself with infinite possessions, one will surely be happy. This strategy may work for some, but I’ve come to realize happiness – or just being content and have inner joy – needs to be a constant, sustainable mode that comes from within and not from a short term external factor. In my humble opinion, happiness is not derived from a series of sprints, based on an insatiable appetite for consumption, but rather a marathon where I’m just content to be. We are human beings, not human buyers. I gradually pulled myself away from the proverbial dinner table and simply felt full; I have no desire to go anywhere because I have already arrived.
So, here’s where I’m supposed to tell you I found God and you need to too, right? Relax, that’s not the premise of this writing nor my own personal message. What I am simply trying to convey is to find your own unique authenticity that is in alignment with integrity. Look in the mirror and ask what defines you, what is your identity? Is it what is parked in the driveway, the zip code you live in and/or your job title…is that who you are? Once you can remove that armor, that facade that masks your authentic true being, you may discover far greater inner peace.
Renunciation is not deprivation. It is not massive sacrifice or even serious compromise. It is simply a state of feeling satiated: a continuous non-appetite/non-craving where you don’t have the hunger pangs for the next great possession. It is the absence of, not the desire for. I don’t need a new Porsche in my garage – not because I deprive myself, but because I really don’t desire it anymore (or the lease payments). This does not mean I don’t appreciate the finer things in life, it simply means I do not look to possessions as my source for happiness. If you can sincerely arrive at this point while being honest with yourself, it is a truly liberating feeling. Your toys and possessions don’t need to define your authentic self. I tried that route and came up empty and have found there’s personal freedom in stating that ship has sailed.