If you ask most people what they are ultimately after they would probably say things like happiness, making a difference, leaving something that outlasts them, etc. If you ask people what concrete things they want to gain, they may say things like wealth, a home on a beautiful beach, a luxury sedan, etc. Most of us think that we will be happy when we achieve something particular. If only I could have…. I’ll be happy when I get my dream home, riches so I can travel and do what I want, and so on.
I want to drive an expensive luxury sedan. If I work a lot harder so I can have one, will I enjoy it when I get it? If I’m stressed out, overworked, tired, and unhealthy, am I suddenly going to be calm, energetic, and healthy when I get my car? Not likely. I will be stressed, overworked, tired, and unhealthy while driving my expensive sedan in the snarled and chaotic traffic.
I want a big house on a beautiful beach with a lot of glass looking over the ocean. If I kill myself making money so I can afford it, am I suddenly going to have lasting happiness and peace when I get it? What is going to change? If I don’t know how to be happy now how will I know how to be happy then?
I can imagine myself 32 years down the road. I am 80 years old in my beautiful house on the beach, with my expensive luxury sedan in the garage, and money and time to travel the world. The only problem is that I’m sitting in my expensive house in my lift chair, breathing from oxygen tanks, and too stupid to know what’s up. I’m not healthy enough to travel. My chance of living the way I wanted to live is gone. My great-grandchildren are playing on the beach and I don’t even know it.
If I want happiness and serenity, I can have that now. When I’m 80 years old, I want to be able to move like a 50 year-old and have a good 20 or 30 years left. I want to be able to play with my great-grandchildren on the beach.
If I want long-lasting happiness and well-being, great health, long-life, freedom from obligations and commitments, time to read and write, etc., why do I not just skip the stuff and go for all that now?
I made the decision within the last year to stop working so much and pay attention to my health. I’m eating well and I’ve started exercising. I’m calming down and not stressing so much over things that don’t matter. But I still have these goals or dreams to be able to get all the stuff.
Lately I’ve been thinking that I really may not want all that stuff. That getting all of it is going to prevent me from having what I really want. That when I get it all, I won’t be satisfied anyway. I’d rather have books than a house on the beach. I’d rather have time than a luxury car. I’d rather have my health than money to travel the world.
So I’ve reoriented my goals towards the most important things first. Things like personal freedom, time, well-being, peace, happiness, relationships, etc. If the rest of it (the stuff) is available as a bonus then great. However, I’m no longer sure the view is worth the climb for that stuff. I recommend you consider the same issues for yourself.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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