They want better clothes, a better computer, a better apartment, a better car, a better job, a better life. I understand, of course, because I've thought like this too.
More recently, however, I started just being better instead:
- By realizing that spending more quality time with my family, friends and myself was all I really wanted, I needed entertainment and shopped less. I spent less and got more.
- By learning to eat less and exercise more, I stopped wanting a different body and got into the best shape of my life. I lost over 65 pounds and feel so much better.
- By learning to accept the reality I am faced with and choose a positive outlook, I've seen opportunities where before I only saw disappointment and problems. I am amazed by and thankful everyday for the projects and work I am able to do.
- Maybe most of all, I've interrupted the endless cycle of wanting more and spent more time realizing I have more than I could ever want. I'm the happiest I've ever been.
I don't think enlightenment is something that happens overnight, but I think each of us has enlightened moments every day. I spend time trying to string those moments together by reminding myself of a couple of things whenever I can:
- Realize the cycle of wanting doesn't stop when you get what you want, it stops when you don't want any more. Chances are, you already have everything you need for happiness. Food, shelter, clothing, people you love, meaningful work and a calm mind.
- Helping others does not limit itself to only a few professions. You don’t need to change jobs - just help others any way you can. Help your colleagues succeed. Be there for your friends and family. Encourage others. Play with children. Improve your community in small ways, even starting with the trash on the ground.
- Instead of wanting better friends or colleagues, be one. Being a better friend and being a better colleague takes time, but it's worth it. Be considerate, friendly, positive, kind and honestly listen to those around you.
- Think about those pictures of happiness in your mind - the serene rooms, the pristine landscapes, the simple belongings - and realize that having more stuff doesn't add to those pictures of happiness. In fact, having less gets you closer to experiencing those things.
- Turn off your mind and try to appreciate what you are currently experiencing - eating, showering, walking, working, doing dishes, talking, listening, writing, drinking water. We often miss out on the depth of our experiences because we are somewhere else mentally.
When we realize that getting something better isn't as important as being something better, I think we end up getting what we wanted all along.