Friday, November 4, 2011

Paring it to Essential

Why were we so happy as children? Can a brain scan really tell us it’s all science? Are dopamine levels all we really need to gauge human happiness?

Remember being happy as a child, you know, laughing in the forest on a chase with a sibling, tossing in bed incessantly from the utter excitement of going to the amusement park the next day, and the holidays, it’s like a three-month trip on the euphoria train for adolescents like we used to be. Can you recall those times? When our happiness was so abundant it was nearly omnipresent. So what happened between then and now? From the times when we were happy little children to jaded disappointed adults? Where did all that happiness go exactly?

Stuff consumes our beings in ways freightingly unintended. The more things we own the higher the probability something needs to be fixed, cleaned, updated, or at the very least used. Stuff with value can’t be given away, for those that need money and if the time ain’t right to sell it, well the burdenous cycle continues. We just become people with stuff accumulating more stuff in an effort to quench a never-ending thirst for stuff. Not to mention the monetary debt being in the stuff-cycle brings, and all the enslavement that comes with being in debt, it gets really unhappy real quick. Stress, unease, fighting, and even fatalities are results of such.

Having copious amounts of money isn’t much better if we aren’t wise with our spending. We never had to worry about our pets surviving a turbulent private jet trip to the Caribbean island we own, or the lack of veterinary care to treat them upon arrival before all that money fell in our laps. No, with money, after a certain point at least, comes big whoppers of unexpected problems and hassles. Problems everyday Joe’s working the night shift at the tire factory never, ever, in his wildest dreams would worry about. What’s the going rate to heat a McMansion each year? And the pool costs how much to maintain? It’s a tough nut to maintain if the money well ever dries up.

Stuff and money sap us of the one great pleasure of youth, simplicity. We lose our simple lives of routine for the grand production of a delicate balancing act, where balancing atop the razor thin wire of focus and purpose is a daily routine.

Some of the biggest companies in the world, many of them to be more specific, prey on our needs for more stuff. Apple is far from an ambivalent party here, there are product cycles geared towards our insatiable need for the latest and greatest. A child in the Horn of Africa just wants some food so he doesn’t die that day, but we maxed out our credit cards on something far less important than life-sustenance, we got something tangible that has neither a heart or a soul. If only we could pin our grievances on materialism and the trappings of such, but it’s more complicated than just what we buy, it’s also what we say, and what others around us say.

People pollute our minds with mental junk.

I’m secretly bothered by people that talk about other people, because mentally they are creating clutter on the most sacred human space of them all, the mind. Their mind is now clogged with it, and they are fast filling up my brain shelves with it as well.

We verbally butcher people for the craziest reasons, and yet it never satisfies us, so we keep at it, hoping one day there might be some fulfillment from putting someone else down, though as far as I know true peace has never arrived from such. I’m not talking about written critiques of elected leaders, or investigative journalism that uncovers the world’s most hidden improprieties, no, I’m talking about gossip. Gossip blogs, gossip from our lips, gossip from others, it’s useless, and propels us to stock our mental shelves with the unimportant in the most valuable of places. If we are so concerned with Kim Kardashian’s wedding failure or Justin Bieber’s paternal DNA test, what just got shoved out of the way? What if instead of Kim and Justin we thought of homeless Bob on the street corner and Mary in an abusive relationship? Our mental shelves offer only so much capacity, and our wellbeing is much better off for focusing on the Bob’s and Mary’s instead of the Kim’s and Justin’s of the world. Heck, we might just be able to help Bob and Mary.

How can we ever be happy with so much in our minds, homes, and banks? Truth be told we can’t, we never will be, and we shouldn’t expect to be until the art and act of simplicity is fully embraced.

Simplify everything, where you live, what you buy, whom you hang out with, and what you say. Try it for a week and see if it isn’t easier to be a better person, and as important, simply be at peace with world. Simplicity works in our world because our world is full of distractions, and without a clear and well thought out plan we don’t stand a chance at making it through unscathed.

Simplicity offers at the very least a road to a home built on the fertile soil of peace landscaped with trees of calming focus, and a door open wide enough to let whatever shows up come through with ease.

On a personal note I’ve been working on simplifying my life for the past 13 months. Everything in my life has taken a turn for the better, and while I still have a long road to travel to achieve anything close to peace of mind, I feel empowered by what simplicity has offered me thus far, and the above is my testament to such.

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