If your happiness is based on always getting a little more than you've got...
then you've handed control over your happiness to the gatekeepers, built a system that doesn't scale and prevented yourself from the brave work that leads to a quantum leap.
This article is one of my favorites, and it's something that resonates with me as I try to transition from full-time student to someone who works for a living.
Attaching your happiness to the notion of "more" is dangerous. There will always be more, and so you're attaching your happiness to something that's ultimately unattainable. Subsequently, happiness itself becomes unattainable.
There are ways to combat this attachment to more, and it's something I focus on here and in life. Minimalism is one way. To be able to identify what is enough, and then to be happy with it, is a valuable skill that must be constantly practiced.
Perspective is another. To realize what is and what is not important, and to be able to recognize who and what deserves your time.
Inner peace is another. To be so aware of who you are, and to love that person so unconditionally, that you have no fears, worries, wants, or desires, and you are content with You.
Their rules, their increments, and you are always on a treadmill, unhappy today, imagining that the answer lies just over the next hill...
All the data shows us that the people on that hill are just as frustrated as the people on your hill.
When I peer into the box that society wants me to crawl into, this is all I see. A smothering, unsatisfying existence, where happiness is always a little further ahead and just out of reach. The thought of living in that box makes me uneasy.
Luckily, there's hope:
An alternative is to be happy wherever you are, with whatever you've got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you're gone and most of all, doing important work.
There is an alternative. I know there is an alternative because there are people living the alternative.
Fortunately, the thrill of creating art and doing important work are what help me be happy where I am. Unfortunately, I've yet to determine how to make a living while doing it.
Richard J. Anderson had a great post on this topic a few weeks ago:
I like technology, writing, music, art, and variety. I like having clearly defined goals I can check off a list when they’re done. I like knowing that what’s done really is done, and I don’t have to fix it unless I made a mistake. Where do any of these things intersect, and do they intersect in a place that also provides enough money to live on while I focus on what truly matters to me?
These are the questions I'm asking myself, too. I love to read and write. How can I make a living doing these things?
I'm not sure yet.
But, the answer is out there, and I have faith that it will reveal itself.
The trick is to not give up on looking for it.