Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. – Marianne Williamson
It’s easy to mistake the things that bring us happiness with the things that we think will. You can fill your home with modern conveniences and upgrade your gadgets, but the temporary sense of fulfillment this brings is often short-lived.
With minimalist tendencies on the rise, many of us have turned to reevaluating our belongings and keeping only those that bring us joy. However, such radical lifestyle changes only go so far.
Not because we eventually turn back to our wallets to fill deeper voids, but because we keep believing doing so will work.
If you look around you, how many of the things you can hold in your hands could you live without? The answer likely is many. While it may initially be hard to imagine parting with the excess clothes that hang in your closet or the kitchen accessories that make cooking a breeze, you’d ultimately realize that these items don’t increase your life’s value and were likely acquired in the pursuit of wanting more.
Now ask yourself how many of the things you own would you exchange for the friends who gave them to you, the memories they inspired, or the connections they helped build?
The point is not that we can only have one or the other. We live in a society that affords us both: nice things, as well as meaningful relationships and experiences. The point is rather, only the latter brings us the joy we so deeply crave.
Imagine having everything you ever wanted, but no one to share it with. Or a great big house, but no children to fill it with laughter and light. Suddenly your most prized possessions start to feel fairly worthless, and a once rich life can come to feel empty.
Believing that material goods will fill your quest for satisfaction or joy will only lead to disappointment, and fuel the cycle of wanting more. Next time you examine your surroundings and think that you’re missing something, think about what it really is you’re craving instead: someone to talk to, someone to listen, something to stimulate your body or mind, a deeper sense of purpose, a way to give back.
Don’t mistake the things that appear to bring others happiness with inadequacy when your own inventory doesn’t measure up.
A friend recently asked me, “How would you live if you knew you would only have the things you have now for the next 60 years?”
It’s a powerful question, and one that warrants considerable attention.
The things that fill our homes and add to our spaces can detract from our lives when we believe that they’re the only way to a more gratifying existence. So when you pick up a book, or put on a new pair of shoes, think about the experiences they provide, the feelings they evoke, and know that the story they tell of who you are is far more important than your mere ownership of them.