What is happiness?
After a full week of prepping for a garage sale, having the garage sale and then cleaning up from the garage sale, I had a moment of realization. First of all we made a decent amount of money. That is not the issue. The issue came at the end of the sale when I looked around and still saw piles and tables full of items. So now as I sit here surrounded by all my stuff, I start asking myself “where did I get this?” or better yet, “why did I buy this?” I mean if someone else didn’t want this stuff for $1, than why did I pay 10 to 20 times that amount?!?!
For several months now I have hit a painful reality of what my life had become; a life submerged in my items. They filled up every closet in our home, every cabinet in our kitchen and were even hidden underneath our bed. We never knew the extent of what we had until we began to open the doors and pull it all out!
I have heard over and over again that happiness is what life is all about. “Do what makes you happy” or “God just wants you to be happy.” Really? Is that it? If I am honest with myself, as I would hope you would be too, if it was all about happiness, I think I would have more stuff and less self-control to not buy. And if God just wants me to be happy, than why do I feel miserable in the midst of what used to make me happy? There is something “off” in the way that we perceive happiness to be.
We live in a culture where “happiness” is severely overrated. If “happiness” is so important to God than why is it that He never mentions it? Why is happiness not listed in the Fruits of the Spirit? I believe that happiness is a state of mind and joy is a state of being. If we allowed happiness to make decisions for us, we have the ability to become misguided. Happiness does not bring about deep inner change or growth. It does not confront but affirms. Not only does happiness mask over truth that we don’t want to acknowledge, but it allows us the freedom of excuses.
We must remember that the promise of happiness this world endorses is a lie. It doesn’t exist. You will suffocate from all of the “things” you accumulate in the process. If you let them, they will define you and will demand you to make sacrifices; sacrifices financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Yet, there is beauty in simplicity! There is freedom in simplicity! There are fewer distractions in simplicity! When we begin to appreciate the things that we need we see less value in the others. A life of excess can hinder our perception of what is “normal.” The way that we live in America is not the norm. We have elevated ourselves to a superior livelihood. We want more than what we have. And in this crazy rat-race, we fall prey to the consequences of “more.”
At the time I am writing this my family lives in a 2,000sq. ft. home. There are 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. We have 2 working vehicles. The house is warm when it’s cold and cold when it’s warm. All of our appliances work. We have beds and plenty of food in our fridge. We have clothes, shoes and coats. We should not be in want of anything, right? Wrong. We continued to fill our home. It took no time finding these items but it’s taking much longer trying to get rid of them. You would think that if these “things” made us happy we wouldn’t want to get rid of them, but frankly we have grown tired of even looking at them. They add no true value to our lives.
Now, we find ourselves re-evaluating our life. Our house is too big, our bank account is too small and the well-being of our family is not where it needs to be. How funny to think that diminishing your items could be so liberating! It is a rewarding moment when you freely and joyfully let go of an item and almost immediately forget it.
So where does this lead us? Into a life that is free and simple. Or in other words, a life that is maintained by needs and not fueled by wants. This is a lifestyle that brings me closer to the Lord for I learn to be satisfied in Him. Happiness is found in the things that catch your eye, but joy is found within the One your eyes are focused on.
Less is more,