3 steps toward true and permanent happiness

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s popular to equate physical possessions with security. Buying more stuff makes people feel like they are secure and insulated from the world. In some sense, I guess this is true. If you ever have a spur of the moment, 45 person dinner party I suppose you’ll be glad to have the multiple sets of fancy silverware. Having a lot of stuff makes people feel like they are prepared for anything and that they have “made it” in the world. However, where is the wisdom in relying on physical possessions for happiness or contentment? How secure is it to have your mental well-being reside in the impermanence of physical possessions?

I’m not here to berate you for owning things (that would quite hypocritical as I type this on my expensive computer), but to suggest that we begin to change our focus. Instead of relying on the physical possessions such as a nice house, expensive clothes, or the fanciest gadgets to provide our happiness lets begin to develop a sense of contentment that is independent from physical possessions. Indeed, true security is being able to find happiness within yourself.

1. Try developing mindfulness: Mindfulness, or the ability to be in the present instead of dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, is vital for learning how to be content. The art of meditation or even just spending quiet time with your thoughts is a great first step toward realigning your mind.

2. Delight in the details: With the current pace of society, it can be very easy to let the details slide by. Especially in nature, there is an unlimited amount of sensation that can be experience. Try really paying attention to your surroundings the next time you go for a walk or step outside. This isn’t a nature-only proposition either; try getting lost in your work the next time you sit down to write or read. You might be surprised how much you’re missing.

3. Focus on experiences and not stuff: Stuff can be destroyed, stolen, or broken; your experiences are forever. Try giving gifts that focus on the experience instead of an object that sits on a shelf. Focus on what you are experiencing and derive your joy from that, not how much you own.

The art of happiness has been studied, debated, and philosophized about for centuries. My humble addition and own personal outlook is that liberating our happiness and contentment from the impermanence of physical goods is the single largest step toward living a truly fulfilling, satisfying, and secure life.

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