As a child in grade school, Christmas was all about getting stuff. For many days leading up to the Christmas I counted the number of packages under the tree, fantasized about the contents, and knew that happiness was contained in one of those boxes. On the first day of school in January, it was common to start a conversation by asking, “What did you get for Christmas?”
With the passage of years, I was still in a position wanting things. I wanted to get more money, wanted to get the girl, wanted to get higher by imbibing whiskey. I wanted to get the promotion, wanted to get new counters, and wanted to get cooler clothes. Throughout life, I was always chasing something that was just out of grasp. It stemmed from a feeling of not being whole. Surely there was a person, an experience, or a thing that would complete me.
After a lifetime of trial and error, in 2015 I walked my second Camino in Spain. There is an iron cross called the Cruz de Ferro. Pilgrims brings a stone from their home and the idea is to leave the rock behind along with something that needs to be purged from life. I took a stone from the creek behind my home and left the illusion that any person, thing, or trip would ever make me whole, because I will never be more whole that I am in the current moment.
The game of chasing and getting stuff has no end-zone where a touchdown can be scored. The field gets longer, the goalposts move, and continuous loss builds resentment. Nothing is more painful that being thirsty and realizing the mirage is a mirage.
If having stuff created happiness there would be no substance abuse or divorce in Hollywood.
We all have some type of abundance in our lives. It may be knowledge, money, time, or experience. I have found that my happiest times come from giving freely with the intention of helping others.
This ancient Chinese proverb provides a nice summary.
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month, get married.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody else.