Shiny Stuff

I am currently enjoying a long vacation with my mom in Palm Springs, California. This is an annual trip to the land of the rich and famous.  $50M private jets litter the runways and $11M will get you 11,000 square feet, 14 bathrooms, and 7 bedrooms. Bentleys glide up and down Highway 111 enroute to The Royal Treatment which includes soaking in a bath of oils and rose petals and then a body scrub of red wine, a four hands massage, 90 minute pramol facial and lavender-body scrub.  Only $1,495.   I have met more than my fair share of uber wealthy people and the myth of money and happiness quickly dissolves in their presence.

While taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago, I had never been happier and never had less stuff.  My pack weighed 22 pounds and was loaded with the basic necessities.  On the second day of walking I started to purge items realizing that I had too much.  Why do we spend so much time wanting and accumulating instead of finding renewable sources of happiness?

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ben Harper slay an exceptional cover of the Johny Cash classic “Satisfied Mind.” Here are a few of my favorite lyrics:

How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way

 But little they know
That it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind

There are a million miles between my life and the man that slept under a bridge last night.  The difference between my life and Oprah’s existence is inches.  Once the basic needs of food and shelter are met, additional resources rarely create any sustainable level of personal satisfaction.  At some point, the excess becomes more of a burden than a blessing.  Greed instills fear of not having enough.  When there is too much, fear of losing takes center stage.  Never satisfied!

With all the advances in technology, the 61 second minute has never been cracked. How much of your time is consumed by chasing more power, a bigger paycheck, more status, a bigger home, or shiny new wheels?  Madison Avenue sells a life of unattainable dreams shrouded in having more stuff.  How about changing your wants and diverting your most precious commodity to something that really matters. Express gratitude for abundance and stop wasting another moment thinking about what you do NOT have.  Take a deep breath and ask yourself “What, at this moment, is lacking?”

What is the return on two hours spent with your child at a local park?  When was the last time you enjoyed an afternoon nap?  Do you ever walk hand-in-hand with a lover in nature?  These activities are great sources of happiness.

Always reevaluate your purpose on the hamster wheel of life.  Do your actions lead to a satisfied mind?