My husband and I have had an ongoing philosophical discussion about our lives – where we were, where we are now, and where we’d like to be. Having been together for the better part of a decade, we’ve definitely had our fair share of experiences as a couple, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between. In the past couple years, we’ve come to the conclusion that the lives that we thought we wanted wouldn’t get us to a place where we could truly be happy. Let me explain.
The illusion of happiness
Like most people, we were under the assumption that, while money doesn’t necessarily equal happiness, money creates opportunities to make happiness a whole lot easier to obtain. While money can make things easier, it can also bring with it tons of negativity and stress.
The problem with a mindset that revolves around money is that you will never feel like you have enough. There will always be something else you want or “need”. Do the “rich” stop making money when they become rich? Of course not – most continue to pursue more monetary riches.
It’s almost like an addiction – the more money you make, the more money you want to make.
While I’ve never been “rich,” my husband and I have been well enough off in the past to spend money on “luxury” items that we didn’t need and only gave us fleeting moments of joy. The thing is, its those fleeting moments of joy that most people chase after – the TVs, the video games, the fashionable clothing, the expensive jewelry, the fancy cars, the extravagant houses. These things may appear to provide happiness when they’re new and shiny, but that happiness soon wears off, and then it’s on to the next thing.
The process repeats itself over and over and over again.
I think that these superficial things mainly act as a distraction for most people… and what many folks don’t see is that these fleeting moments of joy are actually preventing them from reaching a TRUE level of happiness. Why? Because in order to pay for those fleeting moments of joy, a majority of folks have to work long hours or hold down multiple jobs, costing tons of time in addition to money. Many people end up in jobs that they either hate or just don’t feel passionate about in order to pay for stuff, and that, to me, is a tragedy. If you’re going to spend all this time away from loved ones at a job, you better feel freaking passionate about it. If you don’t feel passionate about your job, then you’re essentially spending a majority of your day pissed off and/or unfulfilled, which is not a path that will lead to happiness (no matter how much you get paid).
My vision of happiness
If you asked me 10 years ago what I thought happiness looked like, I can guarantee you that my answer would have been much different than it is today. I’ve never really been a religious person, but I do now consider myself to be spiritual. I believe that everything in life does truly happen for a reason and that how we choose to respond to the cards that we’re dealt with is what shapes our lives and beliefs.
In my case, having all of my plans completely blow up in my face is what made me take a step back and really re-evaluate my life. Having spent a few years working at jobs that I didn’t love and not being able to make the profound differences that I had always envisioned myself making, I came to the conclusion that in order for me to do what I truly loved doing and feel good about the time and effort that I put in, I needed to work for myself. Even after knowing that I needed to be self-employed, it was the lack of other job options at that pivotal time that really gave me the push that I needed to get into private practice. Even though becoming an entrepreneur has had its many, many trials and tribulations, I couldn’t imagine a better path for myself (not to mention all of the people I have helped and will help going forward).
Another pivotal time for me that shaped my vision of happiness is when we decided to start raising chickens. This may sound silly, but I swear that my mood and outlook have completely changed since bringing the little fuzzy monsters into our lives. I can’t help but smile when I watch them and interact with them (maybe you have to raise chickens in order to really “get it”, though). My husband and I have now come to the conclusion that we really love the idea of living a slower-paced life where we’re more connected to nature. We want to be self-sufficient and stop paying the exorbitant utility fees and mortgage payments and food costs. (If you want to really be pissed off, add up what you paid in the past year for your monthly utilities, mortgage, and other expenses – we did… and it wasn’t pretty.) Working hard so the utility and mortgage companies can make money off of us is not a road that will lead us to happiness… and we refuse to continue opting in to that path.
Our vision for our lives going forward is completely different than what we anticipated. We now know that we don’t need lavish things to be happy – what we want is a simpler life where we don’t feel all the pressure to pay for things that don’t really matter. The things that truly have an influence over happiness can’t really be bought, anyway.
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
What is your idea of happiness? What experiences shaped your vision?
Until next time,
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