When I was young, I had a dream to be the richest man in the world. I thought material possessions made people happy. Little did I know then that the world was way bigger than the small neighbourhood I lived in. I also dreamed of owning a really cool car back then. I think it was a VW Santana and then a Daewoo Racer. I would not take both cars for free today if I were given. I also wanted to be a pilot, maybe one day I will still learn how to fly but for now, I have a day job running a business. Would I have been happier as a pilot, maybe? I wouldn’t know.
A friend and I walked past a really good looking house recently. The house looked like it had been around for about three decades because of the style of its architecture, but it still looked beautiful. The house was big and my friend joked that it must have been something to talk about when it was just built. The house stood empty, cared for but unoccupied.
When mobile phones first became popular, the really cool phones then were the big Nokia Communicator phones. Today no one will accept to use those phones for anything; the phones we consider cool today would be obsolete and of no utility in, say, five years.
Many young undergraduates will tell you that landing a job with a bank or with an oil and gas company will be a dream come true. Yet ask the people who currently work in those places and they will tell you that beyond the nice suits and sometimes overrated paychecks, is sometimes a sense of unfulfilled dreams or a wrong career path.
Really wealthy people will tell you money doesn’t solve all problems. Many who have had cycles of being rich and poor would tell you they remained the same regardless of their bank balance. That you will be happy when you reach a milestone or achieve a feat or get married or have money in the bank is true. You will be happy but this brings only small un-sustained moments of fleeting happiness when it’s not tied to a larger purpose.
Material possessions make us happy but they should not be the reason for our happiness. Material possessions make us happy only at the novelty stage. After a time, we are left bland. I think happiness is more in intangibles. True happiness can be found in family, relationships, personal fulfillment, giving, caring, and sharing.
Research has shown time and again that the intangibles give a greater sense of fulfillment and longer-lasting happiness than the tangibles. To think you will be happy because you start earning a million bucks a month or buy that shiny brand new Mercedes Benz or finally move to that dream house of yours is a mirage.
There are people who already earn double what will seem like good money to you and there are loads of people already driving your dream car or living in the posh neighbourhood you want to move into and trust me their lives aren’t all that perfect. They still sometimes wish they had the things you have now that you currently take for granted. Don’t work so hard climbing up the ladder only to see it is leaning on the wrong side of the building.
Listen to science even if you never liked science: True happiness is in the pursuit of purpose, giving, caring, sharing, and quality relationships. The most important finding in the study of happiness is that it is a decision. It is an internal interpretation of events rather than a reaction to external happenings. When you fully comprehend the power of choice or the role you play in being happy, only then do you truly start to live happily.