“I want a BMW!”
“I want a Louis Vuitton Bag!”
“I must have the latest iPhone!”
“I want to have the perfect body!”
“I want everyone to like me!”
These are some of the thoughts that many people have! When we see something good, we want to possess it. We dream of a perfect life where everything functions as we want. We want the perfect body, the perfect job, perfect people……..!
Did you know that such thoughts and your wants are detrimental to your physical and mental well-being?
We believe that the more we acquire, the happier we will be! This belief is endorsed by the fact that each time we acquire something we are happy! But does that happiness last? If you think about it, you will realize that each time you acquire something new you are happy for a brief period, and then you lose interest and aspire for something new. And, the vicious cycle continues where you keep wanting, acquiring, and wanting more!
Unfortunately what we believe is happiness is not happiness but pleasure. Happiness is a feeling that comes from within while pleasure is something we feel externally. Happiness is long-lasting while pleasure is fleeting. The problem with pleasure is that it releases a chemical called dopamine in the brain that drives us towards more of a particular thing. This is the reason why people become shopaholics, alcoholics, social media addicts, etc. In all these activities, the more you do it, the more you want to do it.
The internet and social media have increased the exposure multifold. They have increased our awareness and we now crave just too many things. And, with the help of Artificial Intelligence(AI) marketers exploit our need to have more. When we browse through a specific product on the internet, the data is collected and we see a similar product when we are browsing the internet again. And, we are tempted to buy more.
But we need to think about where this mindless consumerism is leading us! We want to buy more, own more and this attitude is destructive to the planet!
This is because if everyone wants more, more products need to be created. We will need more resources, more space, and create more pollution. So, our greed directly impacts the health of the planet and that of our co-inhabitants on the planet(plants, animals, all other creatures). We encroach on their habitat to fulfill our need for space and greed for more!
Our greed which we confuse as our need has disturbed the entire ecosystem, the food chain,
and the entire functioning of the planet.
“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.”-Hippocrates
It is high time that we spend some time reflecting on what are our needs and what are things we want to satisfy our greed.
Our basic needs are food, clean water, shelter, clothes, love, and security. When our basic needs are satisfied our needs change and we progress towards needs like knowledge, self-actualization!
Unfortunately, we get so entangled in our basic needs that only a few progress towards higher needs. Once our needs are satisfied, greed takes over. We want more of the same things and then dopamine takes over and we keep wanting.
Often we do not desire things because they will make us happy. On the other hand, it is because someone else has that thing or we feel we will be superior to someone else if we have more.
This constant chase for stuff or striving for perfection makes our lives stressful. Controlling our desires to acquire more will not only make our lives easy but also eliminate a lot of our stress. Besides, it is better for the health of the planet!
“We lost our way and allowed greed and excess to become the twin pillars of too much of the financial culture. We became a society utterly absorbed in consumption and dismissive of moderation.”~ Tom Brokaw
So, what is the need of the hour?
We need to focus on the self instead of external sources for happiness. We will improve the quality of our lives if we spent more time building our physical health with exercise and mental health with techniques like yoga and meditation. We need to build meaningful relationships.
Will that make our lives dull?
If you sincerely shift the focus of your life on your personal growth, you will find that you are not stressed, you will have more time for yourself and feel good about yourself. Isn’t this what we aspire for most of the time and believe that our possessions will help us achieve them.
You would have experienced that even when you acquire the things you aspire to, you still feel a void, you will not find a sense of fulfillment. This is simply because fulfillment is an internal feeling and does not come from external sources.
When we are satisfied and fulfilled from within, our need for validation from others will automatically reduce. We will also stop craving for more! This will enhance the overall quality of life and we will have more time to nurture important relationships in our lives. This will give us a true sense of security which is far more satisfying than the false sense of security that we get by owning more.
Does it mean that we should Stop Shopping?
It does not! Of course, you need to indulge in shopping and buying stuff to add zest to your life but you need to be cautious that you do not give in to dopamine and let it become an addiction. The point is to enjoy the good things in life without becoming slaves to our material possessions.
Does this mean that we should not Strive for Growth?
Growth and perfection are two different things. When we strive for perfection we are never satisfied with what we do or achieve, we want more because we believe that it will make us happy. We are too hard on ourselves when we are in pursuit of perfection. Replace perfection with excellence. You do not need to be perfect at what you do but you accomplish your tasks to the best of your ability.
Does it Imply that we should not Focus on Money?
Money is a basic need. We need it for a comfortable life. But be wary of the power of money to become “greed” instead of need. Ask yourself how much money is enough money for a comfortable present and future? Make a habit of saving regularly but do not be obsessed with accumulating more. Money is not a solution for the internal void you may feel. We mess up our lives by obsessing over money. When we limit our needs, our need for money will automatically reduce and again our stress levels will reduce.
After all don’t we want a peaceful life with minimal stress and disturbance? All it takes is to shift your focus from have not to what you already have. Developing an attitude of gratitude will shift your mindset from lack to abundance. Just look around you, you will find that you have a lot to be grateful for! And, this will give you a sense of fulfillment and change your perspective on life!
We are all seeking satisfaction and happiness in our lives. We make the mistake of believing that our possessions and wealth will give us these things. But even after possessing these things in excess, we are not satisfied and we feel a void. Hence, it is vital that we realize that happiness is an inside job and not an outside one. So, we need to shift our focus from external growth to internal and watch our lives transform. Besides, we will do a world of good to our planet!
Learn More About How to Focus on the Self and Transform your Life in my book You are the Hero of Your Life!
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