"Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have."
As I talk to people and overhear conversations happening around me, the talk sometimes ends up being about how we/they (in general) don't have enough. Not enough money to buy this new gadget, or upgrade the car, or add on more rooms, buy those designer shoes. We often fall into complaints about the cost of electricity and medical care and school and food. The thing is, we all have homes, clothes, cars, shoes. We all have enough, but the insatiable desire for more is always lurking close by. It grips us with the fear of missing out, often causing us to value THINGS above PEOPLE. And it leads us to derive our worth from the accumulation of 'things’ and ’stuff’.
This stronghold takes root in our hearts and is often perpetuated by our western-culture lifestyles. Marketing, media, and competition drive us to want what we don’t have, promising that those things beyond our reach will make us feel more successful, more together... more secure. Society is not to blame though. Our behaviour is our choice, as is what we do with and how we treat our resources; financially, physically, mentally and emotionally.
A lesson I’ve learned of late is to let go of material stuff. Often, when I drive down the street, I find myself internally envying those living in big houses and driving fancy cars. Being a father and husband of our household, I feel this instinctive desire to provide the best I can for my family. If I was honest, in the past it has caused me an amount of quiet anxiety.
Wanting the best for those you love is honourable. But it can get unhealthy if left unchecked. If the pursuit of material things becomes more important than the emotional and spiritual health of your friendships and family, you know you’re heading into dangerous territory. What does a man's stuff say about him anyway? Does it confess the love he has for his wife and kids? How he cares for his parents and siblings? How he mows the lawn for the neighbours once a week and drives Mr Evans to lawn bowls on Thursday? How he sits on the phone every few days talking with his best friend John whose wife has just been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer? Can it tell stories of the tales he tells to his 5-year-old at night and how he dances with his daughter every morning? How when he looks into the night sky filled with an infinite spray of stars, he can feel the presence of the divine as close as his own skin?
Stuff and things help, they serve a purpose, there is a certain amount of joy in them. And we need them to assist us in living. But they are NOT what life is all about. And your accumulation of them, or lack of them, do not define you, or your worth.
Slow down, smell the roses and live fully in this moment. Not living in fear that you’ll miss out, but being aware and grateful for every good thing you have. What's right in front of you right now. Carpe Diem!
I’ve discovered there’s a bounty of treasure available in this moment. When we live for tomorrow’s pleasure, we miss the abundance and richness of today.
When I bring my attention to the NOW moment, I notice little details and subtleties in my kids I’ve never seen before; my small house becomes my home full of wonderful memories and love soaked walls; and I see a beauty and grace in my wife that goes beyond her natural beauty.
I don’t know the answer to happiness. But, I have found that when I slow down and stress less about what I don’t have, I feel happier and more thankful for what I do have… and really, what I have is more than enough.