What is the recipe for happiness? As we all know money can’t buy it, or can it? I have always stood by the fact that money is the route of all evil and the more you have the more of a dick you become. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, I am generalising here, but you get the idea.
What makes me happy? Doing things I love, spending time with people I love, making people smile, feeling loved. All those things are mainly free. However, there are always other things that I would like. A bigger house would be nice. Moving to the country, being self sufficient. Having more animals. Seeing more of the world. All these things cost money. Would they make me happier? Potentially, yes. But then I’d be sacrificing other things in order the fulfill them. Like getting a bigger house. Essentially more money, more bills, more cleaning, which I HATE. Ok, I could hire a cleaner, that’s some more money right there. Being self sufficient. You have to speculate to accumulate with this one. So you have to put hard work in, spend some money in the setup to reap your eventual rewards. Having more animals. Even if you rescue, more of them would mean more food bills, vet bills etc. Money. This would also potentially effect Seeing more of the world. Animals are a tie. To get someone to look after them, you’d probably need to pay them. Seeing more of the world is also expensive. And although I would probably take the other half with me, it would also mean I don’t get to see the rest of the people I love as much, no animal cuddles, no self-sufficiency. Do you get where I’m heading?
There is cause and effect with everything. I read an article in the Times recently called ‘How to find Happiness in Today’s Hectic World’. Now a lot of this refers to people with high pressure jobs, living in places like London/New York. But essentially it talks about the fact that because we have more choice in this ever evolving world, it essentially makes us unhappier. Back in the days when life was simpler, less choice meant we settled for less, we didn’t feel like we were missing out, because we weren’t. We were happy with what we had. In today’s society we are constantly flooded with choices. Too many choices. Even just deciding on a drink, do I have tea, coffee or juice? Ok, I choose tea. But what type of tea? Normal tea or fruit tea? Ok, normal tea. But what brand? Earl grey, Yorkshire tea, Tetley, PG Tips, Tea picked by monkeys in China….the list is endless. And when I do finally make my choice, am I judged on that choice? Because I drink PG Tips, will people think I buy it because it is Rainforest Alliance certified, helping the environment, the farmers & their families, or because it comes with a free monkey toy? I know that in reality I buy the tea I buy because I like the taste of it. And probably no-one I know gives a monkey-picking crap about what tea I drink. But this was just an example. You think about everything you do, everything you buy, there is so much choice we often feel like we’re constantly missing out if we don’t have the things society says if we do have, will make us happy. And that disappointment essentially is making us unhappier.
But there is a solution. My mate Barry Schwartz, author and professor has the answer (ok he’s not my mate, but he talks a lot of sense). He’s written a whole book on it, ‘The Paradox of Choice’ (I haven’t read it, but I hear it’s pretty good). The one piece of advice he gives is ‘Remember that good enough is almost always good enough’. He reckons you’d be a lot happier if you stop trying to make all your choices perfect ones and just focus on what’s really important. Family, friends, feeling loved. That’s all we really want isn’t it? The rest is just noise that gets in the way and confuses us as to what we really want. As Bobby McFerrin wisely tells us, “Don’t worry, be happy”. If this doesn’t make you smile, you’re dead inside. (Yes that is Robin Williams. RIP)