Deep down we all know it – but then, there we are again at the shops buying more stuff – thinking it will make us happy, and for an instant it does. But like an addict, the fix wears off and we are left feeling empty again, only this time with a house that is more cluttered than ever.
Backpackers know the happiness and freedom of only taking what they can carry. When I lived as a monk, I had few possessions apart from my robes and a begging bowl for asking for food each morning. I was totally free to enjoy the world around me. Far from feeling like I had nothing, I actually felt like I had everything.
Here are 5 things that became apparent to me:
1. The gratification of ‘getting’ is like a sugar hit:
When you get something you desire it is like an instant rush. And the more you wanted it before, the bigger the rush you get. But just like the rush of a drug, it wears off and leaves you lower than you were before. This leads to….
2. The more you get, the more you want:
The emotional void that is there after the rush wears off, and then it has to be filled. This leaves you searching for the next item that will give you the same rush. And on it goes which then…
3. Takes your mind away from what is truly important
We can only think about one thing at a time so every thought that craves for more stuff is a wasted thought that could be used enjoying what is around you. And if craving for the next thing isn’t bad enough then..
4. Clutter = Stress
Just having a house full of stuff to tidy away is a full time job – especially if you are a parent like me. Living in a mess can be stressful. Then there is the worry of precious items being broken or stolen. If you stress more about an item being damaged than you rejoice in having it – what is the point? And if that is not enough….
5. Science is now getting data to prove that money doesn’t bring happiness:
Studies such as this one in Psychological Science show that money can impair a person’s ability to savour everyday positive emotions and experiences.
So what can you do?
Well one of the most bizarre meditations we do on our Meditation for Beginners Retreat is to eat a sultana using all 5 senses over a period of 10 minutes, with the aim of getting as much pleasure out of the experience as possible. After the laughter dies down, people actually do find they can enjoy the experience quite a lot. Try it and find out for yourself.
Then challenge yourself to find out how many other small experiences you can enjoy without the need to get more stuff.
Best regards and enjoy every sultana,