I intended for today to be the final post of 2015, but then realised I've had the idea for this post (including the title) for over a year, and never got round to sharing it with you all, so here it is...a bonus post for 2015! Before this year began, I for sure was of the mindset that "If I accomplished X, I would be happier". X could be a job, or relationship...but I soon discovered there's no set end goal in life, and its the journey (and how we handle inevitable challenges) that's important.
We are socialised to seek comfort, security and happiness in material things. Watching the MadMen box set, I have learned that the advertising industry is built on the premise of mis-selling consumerism as a goal; the more you have, the more you're sold. We are brought up in the education system to pit success over failure, and conformity over individualism. This is later reinforced in the workforce where results trump effort, and charisma trumps personality. This sends us on a never-ending bender to seek happiness in the shape of one thing or another. For a single girl, its in the arms of a man. For a jobless woman, its in the clutches of employment. For an overweight lady, its in the grasps of endless diets and never-ending (and never-fulfilled) renewed commitments to attend the gym more often. Happiness has been sold as this tangible goal, once grasped, all else falls in place.
However, for those of us who've lived to experience one acquire such goals, we've seen first hand that this isn't the case. Some may call it being driven, but I can now see it as misguided living. The Journal of Happiness' researchers found that one factor distinguishing happy people from unhappy people was the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships. Happiness cannot be honed into riches, wealth, or other material factors. That's why its attainment is temporal. Happiness is the ability to see beyond the material, and embrace the immaterial. The love of family. The warmth of a loving gesture.
Christmas decorations at Covent Garden Piazza
It was especially important for me to highlight this around Christmas time because we have become all too consumed with the material aspects of Christmas; presents, food, mindless TV. We see bloggers' affiliated wish lists racking up views and enriching pockets, causing others to enviously pine beyond their means. We see 'what I got for Christmas' vlogs detailing expensive gifts that'd be gluttonous to the viewer who'd just like to meet her estranged parent for the holidays. We see vloggers traipsing to the ends of the earth, or dancing around their dinner table on Vlogmas while others aren't opportuned to have more than a plate at the soup kitchen. That's not to guilt trip those who've worked hard and are deserving of such gifts, but I do feel at times, this detracts from the reason for the season. Lets promote loving, soul-enriching relationships this Christmas. Lets steer clear of making this all about us, or what we got. Lets give back to those who are lacking of true happiness, have lost their way, and base it on materialism. Don't worry, be happy.
"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness" Charles Spurgeon