Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Few Things: Having Less and Becoming Happier

*WARNING: ranting involved* 

Having less and becoming happier is something I'm very extremely passionate about. If you didn't know that about me already. But it's something a lot of folks don't understand. Most of them have good intentions, they approach me with a concern about making a "good" life for myself or whatever that means and so they try to make suggestions that they think will enhance my way of living. But they don't see the harm they are causing in doing so. Because usually, what they suggest is completely the opposite of what I am trying to accomplish. No, I don't want a "real" house. Is that not obvious? No, I don't want a "real" job. Come on, do you know me at all? And no, I don't want to "grow up". Because at that point, I will have turned out just like you. "Successful", maybe. But miserable and taking out my problems on innocent by-standards that have nothing to do with my lonely unhappiness. So at some point, their "harmless" recommendations become flat out criticisms, threatening every. sing. thing I live for. It's just insulting. And degrading. 

I often wonder what makes a person like this. What kind of teaching or thinking lead them to where they are now. And what makes them remain in that kind of state. But honestly, I can't even go there anymore because oftentimes it is just way too painful. All I can do is keep doing what I'm doing and hope that I can be an example. Hope that my happiness will rub off on them and they can realize that maybe, possibly, there is another way of living that doesn't involve sacrificing your happiness, your entire well-being. If there's anything in life I want to accomplish most, it would be that. I just want to be happy and help others along the way. 

So anyways, I've had these links saved up for a while now, just waiting for the perfect time to pull them back out again. And as it has been a hot topic in this wild mind of mine, I thought it was only appropriate. I have a lot of things I need to get out, apparently. And don't get me wrong, most of this information, advice, and encouragement is for myself but if I'm thinking it, someone else must be too, right? 

"Become your actions and your principles. Stop trying to create a façade of who you are through buying things. Buying things is easy, and everyone knows it. It can garner wonder or excitement, but never respect." - Tynan, Life Nomadic

^^This speaks to me a lot, especially when it comes to things that I opt to make instead of just buy. For example, my house. You can buy a house. Easy peasy. But to make one, that is a whole other feat. I mean how many people can say that they've actually built their own house? How many people can say that they've put their hands and their hearts to work to create a particular object rather than just buying something that someone else made? Which is great if you know the person that made it and it is special to you. But most things aren't. This is a huge thing for me. I try to emphasize this a lot in my life, taking the time to evaluate where our "things" come from and how/by whom they were made. 

A while back, I came across an article about this girl that wore the same outfit, everyday for a year! I think it's such an interesting idea and love hearing her thoughts and what she got out of it.

"Nobody gives a shit what you wear.

You may feel anxious wearing the same shirt you wore last week, but most people A) won’t notice, or B) won’t care. I wore the same damn outfit every day, and in the span of a year, only one person ever brought it up to me of his own accord.

Sure, you lose your status as a fashion symbol (except, perhaps, among the most avant-garde circles). Whatever. I realized that when I cared less about what I (and others) wore, I cared more about what I (and others) said and did.

The way I interacted with others changed. I felt less on display when I walked around outside. I knew I didn’t have as much to “hook” people in with, so I had to be twice as interesting to convey my value. I cared a lot less not just about impressing people with my clothes, but about impressing people in general. I felt more comfortable in my own skin."

source: Why I Wore The Same Outfit Everyday For A Year

Even an Australian news anchor experimented with this and wore the same suit everyday for a year, you can read more about it here

There are certain people that like to cast off my ideas of sustainable living as just being a "hippy". Which annoys me to no end. But let's get real, this is economics, this is science, these are not just some happy go lucky, treehugger ideals here, these are real problems that we're trying to solve with real, game changing, transformational solutions. So be a solutionary! Happiness doesn't come from buying more stuff, it comes from our communities, our health, our sense of purpose. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. Just someone that's willing to give up these false ideals we were made to believe, that are supposed to make us happy. It takes someone with courage, to step outside of the box, be an individual, and dare to live a life different than the "average american". It takes someone that is bold enough to follow their passions instead of landing a life-sucking, but successful job that will never fulfill them. 

Here is a great article that I pulled quotes from that says this exactly: 

Long story short, science has shown that oftentimes more “things” do not make us happier. But is this really news?

Unfortunately, our economy is predicated on us consuming more, buying more, buying bigger, or buying the newest thing; thus we’re taught we need those things in order to be happy (which is a lie).

To borrow a quote from the late Senator Paul Tsongas (who quit politics when he found out he had terminal cancer),  I never met a man on his deathbed who said he wished he had spent more time at work.”

“Well, what do I do then, Steve? Just quit my job and sell all of my stuff? I have a wife/kids/mortgage/etc. Be real.”

The answer?
The Progress Principle. 
It turns out, we LOVE making progress.
We love making progress so much that we actually enjoy it more than getting the thing we wanted in the first place!
These short term wins release dopamine, and we want more.
Find ways to improve, and find ways to reward yourself with things that reward you back.
As Jonathan Haidt describes in his book, the Happiness Hypothesis, us mammals have a basic need to “make things happen”:
When we are productive and happy, Haidt defines this as “flow,” or in “the zone”: a state where you are incredibly immersed in the task at hand while incredibly productive and happy.

So, find what you like to do and be great at it.

To quote the late, great Steve Jobs:  
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
So, other than exercising more, finding more things you love and spending less time on things you don’t, what else affects our happiness?
For starters: spend more time surrounded by the people you love, and less time surrounded by people who drag you down.
Or, as Stanford researchers discovered:
“We know that people with meaningful social connections are happier than those without them.  The more time that individuals spend with their partners, best friends, and close friends, the happier they are. When they spend time with people who they dislike or when they spend time alone, their happiness levels drop. Loneliness is a relatively good predictor of unhappiness.”
There’s also plenty of research that one of the best ways you can stay healthy and live longer is to increase your social connections and spend more time with friends.
How many times recently have you put off spending extra time with your friends, family, or saying yes to an adventure because “I have work to do”?
There will always be work to do.
But we have a limited amount of time to spend time with friends, loved ones, or family.

Everything I do in my life is connected to a greater purpose. To a search for happiness. Some people call it childish or immature but is it wrong to want to be happy? I don't believe I need to sacrifice my happiness to be "successful". I don't know where that idea ever corrupted our way of living. If you're not happy, if you don't do everything in your life to be happy than why are you even living? Seriously, why? 

Things I've learned about downsizing and having less: 
-Well the most obvious, you care less about stuff
-You learn about being grateful. You learn to find joy in the simplest of things. You learn to be happy.
-You care more about the people around you, the interactions and experiences you participate in.
-The obsessive and addictive need for stuff to make you happy becomes obsolete, instead you crave a more tangible fulfillment. You crave adventure, excitement, the joy of just living, connection with people, peace with yourself.
-You are able to discover and treasure the more important things in life (not the stuff), much like I said above.
-You are able to connect more, not only with others but with yourself. When you're not worried about "stuff", you can focus on these more gratifying subjects
-You become more confident and self loving. You are able to form a deeper self love, one that goes beyond just the surface.
-You pay more attention to quality in what you do have and where your things came from, was it made with care for the earth and the people that help create it? Were people dying to get you that t-shirt? Was an animal's life sacrificed for the food you are eating or the leather jacket you are wearing?
-But ultimately, you learn what you TRULY need to live a happy life. Is that impulse buy really going to better your life and make you happy? Is your job going to truly fulfill you and satisfy you every single day? Are your clothes really going to effect your relationships and who you are on the inside?

All I want in life is to be happy. And I've learned to brush off those people that criticize me. Because they must be just as unhappy and miserable as they want me to be. I send them my love and hope that one day, they see the truth and are able to find the kind of happiness I have. Because it's so good. And I would never trade it for stuff

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