( – promoted by undercovercalico)
What if we valued joy?
We easily put values on our material possessions, and we want more. More and more and more. More stuff. Why do so many of us (and, by ‘us’, I mean Americans and westerners in general) want so much stuff? Why do some families have more cars than adults? Can you drive two cars at once? Why do we throw out so much stuff, to replace it with more stuff, when the old stuff was perfectly good?
Do you need a new cell phone? A new car? A bigger house? Fancier clothes?
How does a fashion label help keep you warm?
There is a quotation (I can’t find the source)
To be content with little is difficult, to be content with much impossible
For one thing, many of us want what the other person has. We want to ‘keep up with the Jones’. Yet, we do not ask if the Jones are happy, if they are joyful, or if they are only busy keeping up with some other family…..
Relax. You will never, not ever, have as much as Bill Gates. Do you need it?
If you value your life by your possessions, by your net worth, then you will never be number one.
Near the beginning of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, he writes that most schemes for the promotion of human happiness involved the movement of small green pieces of paper….he finds this odd because it was not the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
In ‘The Gods must be Crazy’ Jamie Uys tells what happens when an empty bottle of Coke drops from an airplane into a tribe of Bushmen. This can’t be shared, since there is only one, and the tribe decides to drop the bottle off the edge of the world.
In one of his routines, Jackie Mason say “why do you need this? I don’t know”
How did we get into this mess? Somewhere, back before history, someone created something that couldn’t be shared. But the situation is much worse in the USA (and other parts of the West) than it is elsewhere, and worse now than it has been before.
What if we valued joy, instead?
What if the richest person was the one who had inspired the most smiles or caused the most laughs or alleviated the most pain or had the most joy?
Does driving a new car, or playing with a new computer, or what-have-you really bring you joy? More than, say, helping another person? Having a pillow fight with a child? Really?
All this stuff is not making us happy – depression is epidemic.
How can we want less?
One thing – expose yourself to less. Advertising is a massive scheme to make you believe you need things. The biggest source of advertising is television. So, turn off your television. Give it away, or lock it in a closet. In Harlan Ellison’s words, it is a “Glass Teat”. There’s one less thing you have to buy, just to start: You don’t need a new TV.
What else? Well, what makes you happy? What makes you feel good about yourself? A while back, the NYTimes ran a story about a woman in Mississippi, a very poor woman who lived by doing laundry for people, who made a fairly large gift to a university. They later asked her what she thought about ‘self-esteem’ and so on, and she said that she thought that if people wanted to feel good about themselves, they should do things that made them proud of themselves.
well, I could babble on, but that’s my point. By the way, I’m not claiming any special merit here – I am guilty of all this stuff-worship, too. But I don’t really want to be.