DISCLAIMER- Today I felt like writing this blog because it is a topic that has been on my mind for a while. I respect the way that others choose to life their life and I write only to share my own thought process towards the subject. I chose to write today about the simplicity of happiness because I felt that it would be a great starting point to kick off Her Morning Expresso.
Did you know you can’t say “Happiness is Free” without smiling? Your lips will actually forcibly turn into a smile upon pronouncing the word “free”. Beautiful right?
This phrase also happens to capture a major premise in which I aim to live by. Happiness does not cost money and it doesn’t require any work or achievements. It seems so trivial, we hear it all the time “Money doesn’t buy happiness”, but we forget that neither does a certain grade, a professional title or essentially anything that society tells you should make you happy.
Side Note: Perhaps when you think of “things”, objects such as cars, shoes, collectables and pets come to mind. But things can also be non-physical attachments such as describing oneself as “Mother of 3”, “CEO of JCorp.”, “Kind” or “Independent”. A thing is anything that you can obtain or describe yourself as, not necessarily an item you can physically experience.
Of course you can be happy and have all of these things but you can also be happy without any of these things. This is because happiness has nothing to do with things and has everything to do with what’s within yourself.
But What Does She Know?
It seems kinda crazy that someone would choose to have nothing, after all society seems to frown upon those who are in those situations. But the question is… why? Why is someone who lives at home so disappointing, why is someone who chooses to live off grid in a small, affordable building the odd one and why is it that stable jobs and six figures are so desired?
I’m going to be quite forward with you and say that houses, vehicles, clothing, cell phones, appliances, careers, and titles are all general wants and not needs.
You do not need an extra four bedrooms in your house, you do not need an extra vehicle, you do not need a smart phone, you don’t need meat, your children do not even need to be educated if you really think about it.
Now, you may be thinking… of course my children need to be educated? Easy for her to say she’s just a young girl bouncing around on couches with no real responsibilities yet.
Here’s What I Do Know
I want to bring to your attention that everything I have listed above are great privileges we have. They are privileges because they are not necessities, they are lived without in many places around the world. Interestingly, there appears to be no definitive study linking depression to the economical well being of a country. This would suggest that countries with less privileges are equally as happy as those countries with higher standards of living. Sure having educated children may lead to a better quality of life but being educated has nothing to do with a person’s state of mind. Your children can be happy no matter what, in fact, they are actually quite good at it.
This is not to say let’s all stop sending our children to school, it is to say that “things” (including having an education) have nothing to do with happiness. You can be happy and live with nothing, you can even choose to live with nothing-the premise of minimalism.
Leave Behind the “I” in Happiness
Happiness is within yourself-the only thing you ever truly have. Eckhart Tolle has a quote that I never understood until recently. He says “Death is stripping away all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before you die”… “and find that there is no death”.
Okay Eckhart, what are you even saying man? He means that losing things about yourself that you can describe with “I am” is the same as dying (leaving the physical world). If you don’t have any of these identities you don’t fear what we know as death because you have nothing to lose. When we leave the physical world we leave with nothing and that’s what actually scares people the most. It’s not death itself that we fear, it’s the absence of anything. So if you “die before you die” you can live life open to natural happiness free of the quest to hold onto and obtain more “things” and “I am’s”. In a nut shell Eckhart’s famous quote is about how happiness does not require anything to exist within a person.
Making Room for Happiness
I would like to take this moment to flash back to the question of why people choose to live with nothing. Picture your life as a living room with a big open window, but the room is completely black because all of your things and identities of what you consider yourself to be are covering the window. As you slowly begin taking away things and identities, Sunlight is allowed to flow in to the room more and more and the absence of things slowly creates enough open space for authentic happiness to seep in. Authentic happiness is a feeling that is derived from deep down in your soul, a feeling that you can’t actually label.
This is not to say that titles and things cannot bring you joy. Certainly there are things in life that we all enjoy. For me its having a selection of fine dining restaurants to eat at, it’s having control over how I chose to live each day and in what order I want to do things in. It’s not that these things should not deliver us any pleasure in life, it’s that our happiness should not be dependent on them. This is something that requires us to work at, we have to learn to be happy with nothing.
Stop Fighting it and Just Smile
I’m on a quest to living with only the necessities like food, shelter, clean water and clothing. The ultimate quest is to be happy and satisfied with only the bare minimum in a consumer frenzied, over-privileged world.
I challenge you to find out just how free happiness really is. Each and everyone of us can find happiness within, we are just clouded with the idea that we should only be happy if we can meet a certain set of criteria that we think happy people fulfil.
Happy means you’re not looking for the next best thing, you’re not looking for more, you’re not looking for a way to describe yourself better to others. Happiness is your most natural state of being, it’s free and it’s all yours if you’re willing to look through a few boxes.
Its okay, you are allowed to be happy. No matter what and where you are in life, happiness will always be free.