By Karen Wright
It seized us when we were pre-verbal, this addiction to stuff. Getting, acquiring, having, owning, possessing. Mine! It was one of the first words we uttered and mine is still the most common measurement of success. Those with the most stuff are lauded, envied, influential. Having lots of stuff seems to indicate that they know more than the rest of us. And those with the very most of all are elevated to the status of royalty.
I'm not among them. You? For most of us, we're somewhere in the "I don't yet have all I'd like to have" stage. Which is a pretty overpopulated place. And should we come close to having all the treasures we aspire to, well, that's where the advertising machine kicks in with some new stuff we'd never heard of, but desperately now want. After all, if you don't have the latest and greatest, you're a nobody, right?
So, why do we want all that stuff? It's not what you might think. And because our motivation is so unconscious, we fall each and every time for the Next Big Thing. Listen up because we're about to break through the fog we've been living in and see this obsession of gimme that with fresh, clear eyes. The old game is about to end.
Before I dispel the myth, why do you want what you want? Do you hope to impress someone? Are you feeding your sense of worth? Do you seek ease or comfort? Are you looking for a good time? Do you want to know more than others? Do you crave others' approval or respect?
No matter how you respond to the question of why you want what you want, the truthful answer is always the same: you want to feel good. It's the basic motivation for everything we do - and don't do. We want to feel happy, fulfilled, satisfied, worthy, peaceful. Choose your own word, but it all boils down to our quest for that most cherished, and often illusive, state of all - to feel good. That deep sense of "all is well."
Now here's the ultimate question - does all that stuff make you feel good? Does the new car, house, spouse, job, or hottest techno-gadget truly have a deep and lasting effect on your sense of well-being? Yeah, maybe in the first moment or day or week. But, like any other addiction, the fix soon looses its power to deliver the goods. So, we get, set aside, and move on to the next promise of glory. It's why we have garages so full of stuff that our cars sleep under the stars each night.
If what we really want is that inner connection to a more profound meaning of self - to feel good - then my friends, stuff won't get us there. Never has, never will. Put your money back in your pocket, seal your garage door, and close your department store accounts. Nothing out there will EVER bring you that kind of serenity. Peace, meaning, connection - these are inside jobs.
If you want to feel good, all you need to accomplish that goal is to decide to feel good. You don't need a crutch or excuse or reason. Just choose to feel good regardless of what's out there. You're already very good at this since it's been you all along who has generated that feeling of satisfaction - however temporary it was. You received praise - you let yourself feel good. You accomplished a really tough task - you let yourself feel good. It wasn't the praise or accomplishment; it was YOU. Plenty of people receive praise and don't let it in. It doesn't make them feel good; it makes them feel anxious.
YOU and only you decide how you are going to feel in every moment of your life. We've been blind to that power because early on, when we first experienced feeling good, we didn't really know the difference between us and not us. Infants don't acquire a sense of a separate self for a few years. So, we learned, erroneously, (and it was supported by everyone who had influence with us) that stuff out there made us feel good or bad or fearful. Not so. It's all us.
A true sign of emotional maturity is the ability to choose our own state of mind. To not be victimized by the external world and toyed with like a puppet. Regardless of what happens out there, what happens in you is your decision. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." And they can't make you feel angry, resentful, joyous, or fearful either. They do whatever they do - but, YOU decide how to respond. YOU decide how to feel.
This is liberation, my friends. The knowledge that feeling good is a choice that is ours by default. It cannot be stolen, destroyed, or usurped. It's yours 'til death do you part. No matter what the world does, you are in charge of your thoughts, feelings, and choices. Think of it... that's incredible power! You have choice, no matter what.
So, how do you feel? We aren't infants anymore. We are wise enough to recognize truth when we hear it. And the truth is, happiness is a choice. Feel good now. Why not? Imagine the money you'll save on stuff! Oh, and the car... it's got dibs on the garage.