Since writing my last post about popular culture, money and its blinding effect on the search for happiness. I’ve quit my 9 to 5 job, given away most of my possessions, set up my own online business and moved abroad from London, UK to Porto, Portugal. My living costs have halved, my working hours have halved and I’m now enjoying the freedom of living how I want to live, without the pressures of the rat race and the promise of “good career progression and development opportunities”.
I’m choosing to chase happiness, instead of money.
From the figure on our bank balance, to the amount of followers we have on social media networks. It’s become the norm to base our happiness around our egos, monetary gain or the attainment of titles and things.
Admittedly, money can present us with opportunities to be happy. But sometimes our priorities are led astray by appropriated desires and distractions that are a product of advertisements which grace our television screens and everyday lives.
Forget about wanting more, because by wanting more, you get less. Working longer hours, to attain stuff you don’t necessarily need, which you won’t have the time to enjoy.
Why not have less stuff and do more? The truth is, happiness doesn’t come in a shopping bag, it comes from the memories you create and experience.
Our generation of 20-somethings is squandering our happiness in the name of consumerism, we need to expand beyond our materialistic comforts and seek new adventures. We need to stop wasting our hard earned cash and invest it into bettering our lives.
The problem is, we are encouraged not to take risks, but instead to strive for the safest option available to us. With the cautionary tales of homelessness and despair, we are guided towards a reliable and ‘secure’ future, outlined by the elders of society who’ve wrapped us in the reassurance that this will shelter us from the risks and perils of stepping outside the overbearing arms of Western civilization.
But to find true happiness, you have to travel outside your comfort zone.
Quit your job, move abroad, take risks, make mistakes. You will never be as young as you are now. I urge you not to take the safe route in the hope that in 20 years time you will have built a future for yourself and a future for your prospective families. Because the truth is, no matter how safe you live your life, the universe can turn it upside-down in an instant.
In the words of Jim Carrey in his commencement address to Maharishi University whilst explaining the life choices of his late father, “you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
We need to listen less to the authoritative figures in our lives who warn us into safety. Or to the mass media which tells us what to aspire to, what to be afraid of and what to desire, because all they are doing is inadvertently telling us to give up our true identities. They are turning us into statistics, amongst the millions of other humans who have given up their humanity for a life of 9–5 desk jobs, expensive nothings and weekend thrills.
Instead, we need to seek happiness above all else. Understand what we truly desire and prioritise our actions to turn our dreams into reality.
The problem with Western culture is people are forever trying to fill their lives with things in order to be happy, but the fact is, it’s the moments we experience that truly make us smile.
Follow Dave Weatherall on Twitter @_mynameisdave