I’ve been taught that we cause our own stress whenever we want to be anywhere other than where we are. If it’s cold outside, we wish it was warmer, and when it’s hot, we want it cooler. It reminds me of what my uncle once said, “I just want one dollar more than I have,” which perfectly illustrates the endlessness of this vicious cycle. At one point we dreamed of being where we currently are, and now that we’re here, we wish to be somewhere else (if not physically, then in our spiritual evolution, relationships, careers, etc.)
It doesn’t help that many of the things designed the make our lives more convenient or enjoyable sometimes have the opposite effect in the long run. I’m not just talking about Netflix killing our productivity, have you noticed how whenever we are introduced to something new and exciting, it makes our lives without those things seem duller in comparison? We were fine before cell phones and the internet, but now that we have them, can you imagine living without? I love Google as much as the next guy so I’m not suggesting these things are evil or that we need to go back to living in caves, I’m just curious if we are robbing ourselves of contentment by chasing happiness…
If we compare this socially acceptable behavior with addiction, it would appear as our craving for creature comforts gets stronger, we keep having to increase the stimuli to reach the same high. People all over the world sleep on the floor, for example, and they don’t suffer from the spine or back problems we experience in the West with all the tempurpedic and posturepedic options that we have. What’s your sleep number?
I think the only way to combat this issue would be to learn to crave what we already have; not just accept or appreciate it, but actually long for what isinstead of dreaming of what was or is yet to be. It sounds a little monastic, I know, but perhaps there is a compromise. Like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, where there’s a happy medium between only eating a bowl of rice and the opposite extreme of coming back to the table with three fully-loaded plates of every dish available and then going back for dessert.
This isn’t my usual spiel about needing to define what enough means to us or we will never have it, because this problem is not about wanting “more,” necessarily, it’s about chasing the next thing, whatever it may be.
So let’s go a step beyond listing our priorities and actually prioritize them, because I don’t think we can be truly content if we are always comparing everything to how much better it could be. There’s got to be a point of exhalation, acceptance, and peace, where instead of chasing happiness, we bask in the glorious blissfulness of contentment.
Find. That. Point.