Here in US, we have electricity, we have clean drinking water, we have cars that drive us around, we
can travel around the globe, I mean a whole planet, while seating and watching movies in only few hours. We have coconut in the middle of winter. We have TVs and phones, wireless ones. We have whatever you can imagine.
Why are we so unhappy? What makes us feel so dissatisfied? I can't stop thinking about it, and not understanding. All these unhappy people I meet, make me even more confused. What is wrong with us? What else we want?
Now, i am not talking about unhappiness due to a disease or a family problem. I am talking about being unsatisfied and ungrateful while living in the suburb.We get in to our nice big air conditioned cars, drive to the store and buy eggs and bread and milk and meat and junk food. We then come back home in the gas filled big air conditioned car and unload everything filling up our two refrigerators. ( Half of this food will end up spoiled and in the garbage can) Then we seat in front of TV and browse on hundreds and hundreds channels. Then we start feeling down about other people's happy and perfect lives full of perfect looking materials and a whole series of self pity start forming in our heads.
" Why can't I have that car? I wish I lived like those lucky people that can drive those cars. Poor me. I just have too many bills. I can never be happy the way Joneses are. Happiness is not for me"
" Oh, my life sucks. I barley can keep up with my nasty bills. My life is miserable, because i can't afford a bigger house like others do. Why can't I be happy like others. If i only had a bigger house to put all my stuff in it, I would be all the way happy"
"Wow. Look at all the vacations other people take. I am stuck here working and paying bills. I have to do laundry and the dishes. But look how happy people, have no problem in the world."
Do I need to say more? I think you know what I am talking about. We have every thing you can imagine that only 100 years ago could be the ultimate sources of happiness and reserved for royalties and are still as unhappy as one can get.
I thought deep and hard. I don't blame the unhappy people. I just feel bad for them. Because due to circumstances, first, they started becoming unhappy and loosing the sight of what they HAVE. Then they started feeling miserable and focus of what they DON'T HAVE.
So what can cause this shift? Why we loose the happiness and pleasure we experienced at first when we acquired our stuff and conveniences.
I thought deep about that too and I notice this shift happens, BECAUSE we acquired all the stuff and conveniences.
You see, it is not easy to explain. I had a hard time explaining what I thought to my husband. So I came up with the sunflower seeds theory.
I love sunflower seeds. i love to crack them open and chew the small sweet yummy seed. Once, i bought a bag of unshelled sunflower seeds. They are wonderful for salads. I remember, one time I grabbed a handful and put them in my mouth. It was NOT what I expected. I had to drink lots of water to be able to swallow them. They were just simply not fun to eat. There was no pleasure in eating them. I prefer to work for them and crack each one of them individually and then eat them. For some reason, the same seed, tastes so much better when it took hard work to get to.
Do you know what i am saying?
To me, life is like eating Sunflower seeds. When we have to be patient and work for something, we enjoy it more. When we have to work hard towards a goal and the result is a little bit of yummy ness, we value it more. It makes us happier and we try to get and enjoy every little piece of it. Experience have shown us that the rarer something is, the more valuable it is. If we had mountains and mountains of Diamonds, it had no value. Nobody would enjoy it.
Imagine years ago, if you would tell someone that there in no need for them to walk a mile in storming blizzard to fill up their bucket with the clean drinking water and all they need to do is twist or lift a handle and here it comes, the clean drinking water, how happy they would be. Now imagine how shocked and happy they would be if you tell them not only you can get clean water, but also you can get HOT clean water with the other handle. They would think it is magic. No more gathering wood for the heat to warm the water? They would be in heaven.
We devalue everything we don't work hard for. I know now you would say, I work hard to pay my bills. But what I meant was, if you would have your own chickens and raise them, would you let any of their eggs get spoiled or end up in the garbage bin? If you grow your own vegetables, would you forget the precious tomatoes and vegetable in you fridge in the garage after you worked so hard to help them grow?
You see, the more connected to our lives we are, the more we appreciate every thing we have. If we had to wash our clothes by hands, a washer would be the best thing ever and we would never, ever nag about doing the laundry. In reality, we are not doing the laundry, we just put the clothes in a machine, add detergent and turn it on. We don't even have to make our hands wet!!! How can we complain about doing the laundry??!! We are truly spoiled. Don't even get me started on dryers and the luxury of having and using one.
The unhappy people's lives are like the handful of unshelled sunflower seeds. You get a lot of the prepared products and that, makes you unhappy. Paying bills does not make us work hard for things, it just feels like another scary task. It is a chore. It does not bring us pride and joy. It does not make us value and enjoy everything more. We don't connect the bill of electricity with the luxury of having a washing machine. We just pay and nag about how expensive our lives are. But we never really stop and thing that the money we are paying, is bringing us an enormous amount of luxury that we need to cherish and enjoy. We all feel that we are ENTITLED to all the luxury we have in our lives and the bill part in just a very bad inconvenience.
THAT, makes us unhappy. So, how can we become happier? To me, it is quite simple.
Reduce your luxury.
Even if it is done temporarily. Consider it a happiness training. For example, wash the dishes by hand for a week. Wash your clothes by hand for a week. Have a no electricity night once a while.( This one is fun. My kids love it) cook food from scratch. stop buying stuff. sweat in the heat and don't turn the AC on. Put on a heavier Jacket in the cold and leave the heater off. I know theses ideas look dumb. But trust me. After a hot day, you will truly enjoy the nice cool breeze coming from your AC.You will start noticing things that you have not been noticing before and you will start appreciating everything.
If you just train yourself to accept and get used to some inconveniences, life will be so much happier and you will learn to love your washer. You will be happy and feel blessed to be able to do laundry without even getting your hands wet. You would fall in love with all the conveniences that surround you.
All you need is the Sunflower seeds with the shell, your life, with some hard work and inconveniences. The hard work will teach you to truly enjoy every little piece of your life today. In a culture, where we all have more and more conveniences and are becoming chronically dissatisfied despite of all the luxuries, a little bit of hard work is a small price to pay in exchange for happiness.
Think about it !!!.