We live in a society that pushes us to believe that we can be happy if we have great things. That new car will give you confidence. The expensive clothes show people you’re rich. The fancy restaurants make you classy. It’s drilled into our heads, every day, that what we have will make us happy. If you don’t believe me, just turn the TV on for five minutes and watch commercials. Tell me they’re not selling a happier you with what they are selling in commercials.
For more proof, go on any social media platform. Scroll through your feed and see what most people are promoting. Your feed is probably full of all the glamour in life and all the gossip that surrounds it. You think, “If I only had what those other people have, I would be much happier.”
From my experience, and what I’ve read of many others…long-lasting happiness is not found in what you have. As a matter of fact, you can find a much longer lasting form of happiness by having less, and being grateful for that.
Ever heard of Alexander the Great? I bet you have. The great conqueror who amassed the largest empire in the entire ancient world. He always needed to have more. But what about Diogenes? Ever heard of him? Well, Alexander the Great met Diogenes once…
Alexander the Great Meets Diogenes
Now when Alexander the Great appeared before the Greek leaders in Corinth they greeted him warmly and paid him lavish compliments- all of them, that is but one. A funny fellow, a philosopher named Diogenes. He had views not unlike those of the Buddha. According to him, possessions and all the things we think we need only serve to distract us and get in the way of our simple enjoyment of life. So he had given away everything he owned and now sat, almost naked, in a barrel in the market square in Corinth where he lived, free and independent like a stray dog.
Curious to meet this strange fellow, Alexander went to call on him. Dressed in shining armour, the plume on his helmet waving in the breeze, he walked up to the barrel and said to Diogenes: “I like you. Let me know your wish and I shall grant it.” Diogenes, who had until then been comfortably sunning himself, replied: “Indeed, Sire, I have a wish.” “Well, what is it?“ “Your shadow has fallen over me: stand a little less between me and the sun.” Alexander is said to have been so struck by this that he said: “If I weren’t Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes.”
Source: “A Little History Of The World” by E.H. Gombrich
Instead of trying to find happiness and joy in having more things, learn to be grateful for having less. If you really want to up your game, learn to find happiness in having less things. I use to have six large computer monitors and five computers in my office, because it looked cool and made me feel more techie. But in reality, they took up more space, gathered tons of dust, ate up electricity, and were rarely used. Did this bring me happiness??? Nope! But I felt like I had to have them…to be cool.
I’ve discovered that less is more and that it’s easier to find longer lasting happiness in having fewer things than trying to fulfill an insatiable desire to always have more. Now, my office has only one monitor, which is used 100% of the time, and two laptops (work and personal). I have less to take care of and maintain. I have exactly what I need and nothing more. This makes me much happier and less burdened.
So, the next time you believe you’ll be happy if you can just get a few more things, imagine yourself walking down the road, with everything you own attached to you, weighing you down, stealing your happiness. More possessions can mean a heavier burden. And a heavier burden often comes with more struggles.
Don’t buy into the Media, telling you that you need more to be happy. Longer lasting happiness can be found in fewer possessions. I believe less is truly more.