The Real Cause Of The Unhappiness Epidemic Is Self-Indulgence
I’m not saying we shouldn’t pamper ourselves — I’m just saying we shouldn’t do it all of the damn time.
Those of you who know me well are probably twisting your faces the same way I did when my husband told me we were moving to Kentucky. I’m aware of my fine dining taste and I have learned (through long, painful lessons) that fancy dinner parties and VIP rooftop cabanas should not be the focal point of our lives.
They should be the reward. Or the payoff, if you will, as a result of hard work, may that be in our careers, our personal growth journeys or a “congratulations to me” salutation for really anything you feel is deserving of some version of personal desire extravagance.
A wise author in one of my self-improvement books wrote this simple sentence that truly enlightened me: “We were put on this Earth to serve.”
Among the petty things we obsess over and complain about in our daily lives, this concept struck something deep inside of me. To me, this meant serving our communities, ourselves, and especially, one another, trumped everything else.
I’m not exactly a religious person, but I do believe we were put on this Earth to serve other people before anything else — before “making it” as a working professional, before getting our eyebrows micro-bladed and before taking shots of Patron with our friends on a yacht.
At the end of our lives, are we going to be giving a shit about how good we were at sales? Are we going to be dwelling on that time our business pitch was mocked by a room full of “important people?” Are we going to regret wearing something from Target to a neighborhood block party? I really hope not because all of those things — in the big scheme of things — are so minuscule it’s laughable.
I Haven’t Always Been This Nice.
Becoming a parent, and later a wife, undeniably made me less of a bitch. Why? Because you aren’t just caring about you and when your martini will arrive at the hightop anymore. You’re caring (and genuinely, may I add) about other human beings before yourself — not because it’s the right thing to do (because is it?) — but because you find actual joy in making the people you love most happy.
In the realm of consumerism culture, which is sickening on many levels, a lot of us are way the hell off-kilter with overbuying, overspending and overall, being greedy, ungrateful narcissists all because we need that pair of designer shoes to show our peer group we’re the real deal. We need to show our neighbors how stylish and popular we are.
Despite what that terribly annoying country song says, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
I’m a huge advocate of self-care and will always lobby for doing things that make you feel fabulous so you are able and willing to take care of your other responsibilities, but we’re swinging a bit too far the other way when we catch ourselves saying things like: “I deserve this,” more than once a week. Especially because those statements typically revolve around spending money on things that don’t actually matter and later have the opposite affect of what was originally intended.
I don’t care all that much about being successful. But I do care about being happy.
The other week, someone asked me what my passions in life were. Usually when people hear the word “passion,” they automatically think it’s related to work or money or power or some combination of the three. This is expected because images of people’s “passions” of starting their own businesses and traveling the world on their company’s dime is what we’re inundated with daily. But the image that came to my mind upon hearing this question was myself on a resort surrounded by my best friends and family drinking martinis and laughing.
That is when it hit me.
All of the things we do like it’s clockwork — like complain our house isn’t big enough, compete with our “friends” on who has the better clothes or the chicer hair cut, and preoccupy ourselves with mindless activities like gossip and Netflix — do the opposite of make us happy — they make us miserable. They hold us back from enjoying moments that are meant to be enjoyed.
Upon this epiphany (and life-changing insight from my self-improvement books), I realized your relationships with people are what matters more than anything. Your relationships with people matter more than work, more than how much money you’re making, and what your social status signifies— it goes back to the whole “serving other people makes you feel amazing” thing.
I used to care about having a big corner office overlooking the Hudson. I used to think that having a Chanel bag would change my life for the better.
I still daydream about my New York estate but it’s no longer the missing piece in my life I thought was missing.
My goal is to live — actually live, not just hang out on the sidelines — a life filled with exploring and laughing and having nonstop fun with people I love being around. If I happen to inherit a Chanel bag, then, amazing. It’s a bonus. Until then, I simply don’t give a damn.
What’s your goal?
Thanks for reading!