I think when you’re finally becoming an adult you realize that a lot of shit is going to be thrown your way. Some of it is shit you’ve been carrying around with you but were ignoring and now you need to deal with it to function; some of it comes around the corner without any warning, stealing your wallet, denting your car, or sometimes even worse.
Since graduation I’ve really, really gotten close with my anxiety, not in a good, coping kind of way. In a bad, consuming kind of way. Being an adult is friggin’ scary! So much can go wrong! For me (I know this isn’t just me, dudes) this becomes an overwhelming thought and it is kind of ruining my young, professional life at the moment. I’m not able to take advantage of the new freedoms/responsibilities that come from having an actually kind of really good full-time job.
I’ve really decided to take all this uncomfortable crap and try to channel it towards growth into what I hope is a real life grown up. Although I really am not sure what would cause my own happiness or peace, I thought it would be helpful for me to look into what happiness really is. A great friend of mine recently recommended that I check out the documentary Happy on Netflix. Pretty self explanatory.
I just finished watching it about twenty minutes ago, and it is a must-see for anyone just thinking about how to navigate this convoluted society we’ve created, or even if you’re already happy and want to learn a little more about other people and their journeys to happiness.
One thing that I took away from this film: We have so, so, so much of everything. An influx of sustenance, information, people, thoughts…I could keep going. So, as a society with so. much. stuff. that is supposed to be making us have a higher quality of life with more happiness, why does the U.S. have such high rates of anxiety and depression-related issues?
I can admit myself that I spend so much time thinking about what I want, how I want to look, how I can earn more money, get a promotion. There is so much of my day spent thinking about how to get more of everything, thinking that acquiring just a few more things or praise from other people is going to get me to that euphoric place I have built up in my head. Something I just came to realize: I don’t need more.
I do not need any more of any thing in my life at this very moment.
If anything, I need to purge. I need to purge physically and mentally.
Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. But we can at least improve on this more more more mentality. I truly believe that we all have what we need to be happy. A portion of the documentary discussed the concept of money buying happiness. Researchers discovered that really the only relevance this had on happiness was the threshold of homelessness and stability. Basically, if you have a roof over your head the difference between your happiness and the happiness of someone with $500,000 to $5,000,000,000 in their bank account was very, very minimal. Essentially, if we have the basic necessities met, money does little to affect our true happiness.
So, where do we start to at least try to detach ourselves a bit from the vicious cycle of more. more, more?
-The first thing is to make a list of what you’re truly grateful for. I tried to make sure most of my list weren’t material things. I did add my new cat on there, just because she’s a little badass :) They suggested we do this at least once a week to give us some perspective.
-The next thing is pretty obvious, but harder than you’d think. You should list some of the biggest aspects of your life that bring happiness. These could be things that have brought you happiness in the past that you’ve strayed from, or just things you know in your gut you should be doing for yourself but aren’t. Try to incorporate these new and/or old things in your weekly routine, slowly if necessary. Two of my biggest things were to FORCE myself to get enough sleep and read more, I love reading and now that it is an aspect of my career I really shouldn’t let it kill my fav hobby. Bring on the Divergent series.
-The documentary also cited philanthropic and compassionate acts as being a huge aspect of happiness for the happiest people on the planet. Basically, don’t be a selfish little b and do something for others just because at least once a day. Not to brag or anything, but today I went out of my way to track down a rogue cart at the store so it wouldn’t hit someone else’s car who wasn’t around, totes the new Gandhi.
-I think one of the biggest overall themes was that we should become richer people with the experiences we’re having and what we take away from them. Basically, do more things not because other people are doing them or because it changes your status or gets you anything…unless it is pure happiness and joy. Go for a walk in the rain for no reason. Don’t be afraid to just sit on a bench in the park simply because it is a beautiful day and you want to feel the sun and watch others enjoy the day.
Basically, this whole post was about stepping back and realizing some very important, basic things about ourselves.
STOP worrying about getting more STUFF. Think about the things you have that you feel blessed to have. Try to measure your wealth in experiences and lessons instead of with your bank account or closet. Appreciate the free things in your life, and suddenly a lot of the things we’re worried about don’t matter any more.
[Lead image via Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock]