Liberation: A Spiritual Hypothesis

I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well.

The first extreme has people waiting, even wishing, for death, and in doing so, they fail to take anything meaningful from life. Life is suffering, seems to be the message, and you just have to wait it out, and be an okay person in the meantime. It may be positive to encourage people to do good, but this is more or a sticks and carrots, heaven or hell sort of incentive: be good or you will be damned for eternity. It is more of a functional religion, keeping people relatively peaceful and placated while they pass their miserable existence.

Instead of working on spiritual awakening adherents are worried about where their next meal is coming from, or what disease will kill them if they aren’t murdered first.

The second extreme shows up in advanced societies where the standard of living has reached a certain point. Ironically, this might be the point to thank God, Allah, or Gaia, but instead people forget, or are distracted by their earthly concerns. People have responsibilities, jobs, hobbies, and toys which take up most of their time. Then, if they ever need a “deeper” distraction, there is politics, and a culture that keeps them in the rat race. Religion becomes an appointment on Sunday morning, or as necessary to keeping up with the neighbors as the new car. Spirituality is hardly a thought on the mind.

Instead of striving for a perfect soul, people strive for more money, more power, and higher social status.

The Problem: Overwhelming Earthly Concerns

The problem is that people are too worried about their earthly concerns either out of necessity of survival, or out of distraction by unimportant goals.

When people are hungry, they will do crazy things for survival. In actual poverty, it is all but impossible to focus the mind on anything but somehow figuring out how to live through the next day: what you will eat, where you will sleep. There can hardly be a long term strategy for life, let alone trying to figure out the afterlife. People need a certain standard of living in order to seriously explore and engage in spirituality and religion.

When a culture elevates unimportant goals that have no end and are impossible to achieve, people never conclude their attempts to gain whatever they are striving for. If someone wants power, there will be no point where they sigh in satisfied relief and say, “I did it”. There is no end to who can have the best car, best house, or best looks. These are earthly goals with fleeting fulfillment. They will always leave something to be desired, even if you “win” at certain points. People cannot pursue truly religious goals if they are working 60 hour weeks to have the newest everything, or shallowly trying to keep face with their peers. People cannot be spiritual if they fill that void with elections, gadgets, or alcohol.

The Solution: Liberation

Earthly goals are not necessarily a bad thing. We are on this earth for some reason, so it makes sense to accomplish tangible earth things. And as I’ve mentioned, a certain level of disregard for earthly things like food and shelter can be just as spiritually distracting as pop culture.

What I propose is a two part solution for the individual, as for society, as each are a reflection of the other. Life should be lived in two phases; an earthly phase of real world accomplishment, and a spiritual phase of religious learning, soul searching, and acquiring inner peace. The two phases need not be purely separated necessarily, as each person’s journey will be unique. But generally speaking, first liberate your earthly self, then liberate your soul, eternal energy, or mind.

Liberation has just one tenet, and it is the golden rule found in many major religions and spiritual teachings. Treat others as you wish to be treated (unless you’re a masochist). Simply put, initiate no harm to others. Never be the aggressor.

Phase One: Liberate Your Earthy Self

Society: By truly accepting and adhering to the only tenet of liberation, you will set in motion the societal change which will bolster phase two. Liberation does not require social acceptance to work, but as I’ve said, society mirrors the individual, and vice versa. The more individuals who liberate themselves, the greater their reflection on society will be, thus creating more individual liberation. The growth of liberation could therefore be exponential which will assist the masses in their spiritual awakening–though any one individual can liberate themselves with or without the greater society.

For some it will be easier to liberate the earthly self than others, based on the luck of the circumstances they were born into. In a sense, these individuals have a greater responsibility to liberate themselves. The goal is to eventually raise the standard of living for every individual on earth to the point where they no longer need to worry about necessities, and can therefore follow liberation to a spiritual awakening.

There is no requirement on any individual following liberation to give their wealth away, or necessarily help others–though it is usually a good idea to do so. Rather what follows from personal liberation is advancement and wealth which raises the standard of living for all. When every individual is responsible for their actions, they will reap the rewards and suffer the consequences. This is liberation, and it can only be accomplished by individuals, not by edict.

Currently smart mobile devices in Africa are revolutionizing how money changes hands, so that people can produce and trade for the goods they need to survive, without worrying about getting robbed of all their earnings. Only because someone earlier, on a different continent, accomplished their goal of creating a smartphone, can essentially all of humanity currently use the devices to their individual benefit. The same has been the case with most inventions and technology throughout history; that it proliferates after initially only being available to a few. Therefore simply by liberating themselves, free people will create and trade, which will inevitably spread the wealth they create to the masses.

Charity can be a very useful tool, but it should never be required: forcing charitable contributions would break the only tenet of liberation. Therefore adherents to liberation who believe in charity must effectively convince others of their cause, or set the example in using charity effectively to advance the cause of liberation, and therefore the cause of humanity.

Eventually, as liberation philosophy progresses, the standard of living will be high enough so that no individual needs to worry about survival, and can therefore pursue a fulfilling earthly goal absent any financial and material considerations.

Individuals: Liberation of the earthly self will come in many forms, as we are vastly different individuals with different interests and goals. Keep in mind that unlike the corrupting goals mentioned earlier which cannot be accomplished or executed (i.e. more power, more wealth, “the best” clothes or gadgets), the goals set forth in phase one of liberation must be attainable, with a specific end.

“Become rich,” would not be a good goal, because it is not well defined what rich means, and could always lead to wanting more. “Building a million dollar company,” would be a better goal, because it has a finite ending. Still though, if you want a million dollar company so that you can buy a nice car, this is a fleeting goal. If you want a million dollar company because you believe in the product or service you are selling, this is a meaningful goal.

Really you want your goals for liberating yourself to reflect what you will need for a high enough standard of living to successfully complete phase two–though as liberation progresses and the standard of living rises, this will be of less concern. But you also want your phase one goals to be about the accomplishment in itself, and not necessarily for what you can do with the fruits of the accomplishment. Do what makes you feel most free, as long as it does not harm anyone.

For example, my phase one goal might be a self sufficient homestead. This will give me a place to live during phase two, for little cost, while giving me the opportunity to produce passive income, which makes me feel more secure if I were to need money in a pinch. A homestead would also put me in an environment that feels natural to me where I can truly be myself, and live happily and healthily. I want the life that the homestead can give me, but the homestead itself also makes me happy.

Currently phase one can still be rather stressful, as it is hard enough saving for retirement, let alone somehow shaping your life to perfectly suit you in phase two, where you ideally do not need to work, and can devote yourself to spirituality. But having specific tangible goals can help. Most people go through life being prescribed their goals: a mortgage, a good job, a nice car, etc. But many of the things we waste our money, and therefore our time and labor on, do not contribute to long term happiness or spiritual growth.

For someone who craves security, phase two might not start until retirement, when enough has been saved to live comfortably. For the adventurous sort, phase two might start at age 25 after they have saved up enough for a van to travel the country. Some might feel truly themselves at work, and therefore can move onto phase two while still happily employed. Cut whatever societal chains which keep you in slavery.

The point of phase one is to use the material earthly world to accomplish something that is freeing in and of itself, but that will also help you remain free in stage two. This need not necessarily be wealth either; mentally speaking, having helped orphans or provided food for the homeless might be the only accomplishment necessary to move onto phase two. Having created a successful business might be less about if it made you wealthy, and more about the confidence in your own abilities the experience gave you. Perhaps skills you gain in phase one will make you more liberated for whatever path you choose to follow in stage two.

And those who feel they cannot do what they wish to do because of the current unjust power structure must find ways to peacefully undermine those forces. If you are adhering to the one tenet, the golden rule that you will not initiate harm on anyone, then you are doing nothing wrong. You are morally superior to those who wish to curtail your peaceful activities, and should find solace and accomplishment in subverting them. Their failure to enslave is your liberation.

We all have different comfort levels with risk, and different desires, which is why it is impossible to prescribe a specific phase one path for everyone. In that sense, the spiritual journey starts in phase one with trying to figure out what earthly goals are calling you, and what will truly free you. But just make sure phase one accomplishments are not something you must suffer through. Accomplishment is not always fun, but it should be a rewarding, liberating, process.

Phase Two: Liberate Your Eternal Being

Society: It is true that some who are not adherents to liberation will attempt to harm you. These are the same entities which keep those with a high standard of living focused on shallow earthly desires like possessions and power. When people are afraid to lose their possessions, and competing for power, they accept violations of the golden rule based on the belief that it will help their earthly self. It is a sad irony that the earthly individual would have a higher standard of living if everyone adhered to the tenet of liberation, and would therefore have the chance to focus truly on more than the earthly self.

But remember, there is hope! As more people participate in phase one of liberation, the more society will reflect the philosophy, and therefore attacks on liberated individuals will wane. This means the power structure will erode and crumble, leaving no method of manipulating the masses towards materialistic goals, and aggression.

As society begins to follow the golden rule, the one tenet of liberation, it will add yet another level of security to be able to live out phase two in peace. Rejection of harming, threatening, and forcing others will grow with liberation, and soon the tiny minority who have always initiated and wielded violence will disperse in fear of the liberated masses. Liberation in both phases one and two helps to subvert the unjust and evil power these individuals currently exercise. Of course hope is not lost for those who currently do evil; they may yet repent, and liberate themselves as well.

Everyone within phase two will have already completed their earthly goals of liberation, showing the younger generations that it can be done, and encouraging them to do whatever necessary to liberate themselves. The “authorities” and their coercion will soon become an afterthought, a small hurdle before they become extinct. If living the liberated peaceful life you want to live is rebellion of the system, then let’s all be rebels. Help those who may be in harm’s way, simply because they are rightfully liberating themselves.

Individuals: People have surely been reaching phase two of liberation since the dawn of time, without labeling it as such, and have practiced the philosophy without society’s acceptance or approval. It simply takes a person who can rise above the judgement of their peers. Compete with yourself to become happier every day, to get one step closer to ultimate liberation of the soul.

Liberation is an umbrella philosophy which encourages individuals to find their spiritual way by considering numerous possibilities. A person may well decide that the religion they grew up with is the best fit for them, but they should not do this without first exploring various religions and spiritual teachings. What most people will probably find is that melding different religious philosophies gives a deeper spiritual awareness.

If you want to truly know as much as possible about a historical event, you can’t just read one account and assume it to be fact. The best way to understand history is to triangulate the perspectives of various historians, first hand documents, science surrounding artifacts, and events leading up to, and coming after the historical event. The search for truth in liberating the spirit, mind, or soul should be similar, in that you come at the issue of the afterlife, being, or ultimate truth from multiple angles.

For some this will mean travelling the world to immerse themselves in every religious tradition they can find. For others it might mean becoming more involved in their local church they have always belonged to, and reaching out to other individuals, in order to learn. Some may look for spiritual answers in science, history, or mathematics. Others may look for spiritual guidance from hallucinogens–though a word of caution is in order that drugs should never be used to permanently attain a higher spiritual level, but rather give one an example for a useful mindset for looking at humanity and spirituality.

The goal is that after years of study, exploration, critical thought, meditation, and whatever else it takes, an individual arrives at a religious or spiritual philosophy that works for them to happily complete their life cycle. Some may settle on a specific religion, others a melded philosophy of spirituality and religions. Some may follow their own unique path, or start traditions that help them and their friends find peace. One person may believe that we reincarnate until we live the perfect life, and find ultimate peace within. Another may conclude that we are all higher beings in a complex simulation that is testing our fortitude in a material world.

Some may decide when all is said and done that this is simply a material world without a higher anything; but that too is fine, as long as it brings the individual what they need. Liberation is still a philosophy that encourages a happy, fruitful human existence, so even if one is an atheist after stage two, they should be able to look back at their life with satisfaction, knowing that they accomplished a meaningful goal, and followed their desires without harming others, enjoying what life has to offer, and always striving for the deepest truth possible.

Liberation encourages living a fruitful life, striving for higher meaning, and passing on in peace, liberated.

Synergy

Don’t misconstrue the two phases to mean you cannot be religious, or explore spirituality in phase one. Pursue the ultimate knowledge whenever you get the urge and have the time! My only point in breaking liberation into two phases is that you do not need to forgo the material world in order to properly experience spiritual growth. We are here on this earth for a reason, and only by experiencing what earth has to offer can we grow from that experience.

In general, spirituality and religion is less on the mind when young and full of energy. Harness this energy, and pursue those earthly goals, as long as they are not ultimately destructive. Chances are your early earthly experiences will greatly set the tone for your later spiritual journey. But the phases are just one way of thinking about liberation, and could conceivably (and certainly will at points) be mixed up, reversed, mingled, and intertwined.

The main thing to take away is that liberation is absolutely crucial to a healthy earthly existence, and completely necessary for any considerations of an eternal soul or being. Your human body must be used for what is was intended, and that is to live a fruitful life on earth free to do anything that does not hurt others. And your soul must be explored for what is was intended, and the journey to spiritual liberation will be an exciting one.

Think of the young in poverty, with no opportunity to make something of their lives, which skews the perspective on what may lie beyond. Think of the youth in advanced society, with no direction, no desire, and no motivation. They are pushed this way and that by the power structure, used as pawns, and left empty and bitter by the coercion they feel dictating their every move.

This will end with liberation. Individuals will reclaim their youth for the exciting, invigorating journey of creation and accomplishment it was always meant to be! No more dead end jobs, no more broken promises, smashed dreams, or stolen opportunities. When we liberate ourselves, there is no height to which individuals cannot take this world.

Think of the elderly in poverty, waiting to die to stop burdening their families who already have so little. Think of the elderly with high living standards, waiting to die because they don’t know what else to do, and have forgotten what it means to have otherworldly goals.

This will be no more in liberation. Under liberation the seasoned, the accomplished, will reclaim their position as spiritual elders whose purpose is to guide the younger generations in their life phases with knowledge, experience and example. There will be no end of life regrets, but instead the dying will pass on satisfied, surrounded by those they love, knowing that whoever is left behind will have an equally glorious life.

The whole will become greater than the sum of its parts. Society will see a spiritual awakening brought on by individuals who decide to liberate themselves. It requires no evangelizing, as simply seeing free people stokes the desire to become liberated. It is a movement that has already begun, and cannot be stopped. Already individuals are living the lives they want to live, regardless of what the sick sad system has to say. These individuals will become the spiritual leaders of the next great awakening on earth. The spiritual renaissance is upon us.

Start Today

Begin pursuing phase one of liberation today. You might already know what that is: the business you want to start, the skill you want to gain, the group you want to help, the book you want to write, or whatever else will make you independent and fruitful. You want to be in control of your own destiny, and let go of the things you cannot control.

Liberate yourself! Let go of the fear the controllers of society shove down your throat. Become as free as possible; in doing so not only will your own life be drastically improved, but your positive energy will infect those around you. Let go of the burdens society has foisted upon you without your consent. Take control of your life and set it up the way you want it.

Liberate your soul! Dissolve the distractions and take a journey with your spirit. Become more connected with others, with yourself, and with a higher realm. Seek ultimate truth, being honest with yourself, and those around you.

Join me, in liberation!

Fewer Posts, but More Experiences

What’s Going On Here, Where Am I At?

When I started this blog, I said that a long absence from posting could mean one of two things:

…it probably means I am failing. Or it could mean I am accomplishing my goal so well that something crazy and unexpected has hampered my posting, like a spontaneous visit to the Yanomamö tribe of Brazil to participate in their ash eating ritual of cremated relatives. But hopefully my experiences will be somewhere in between and I’ll post regularly.

The truth is I have been doing tons of fun stuff, and truly enjoying my life, which made this blog take a back seat. Why stop in the middle of an excellent adventure to tell the internet, who is probably not even listening, about it? I’ve found myself thinking less about trying to make money or promote blogs, and more about enjoying the moment.

In that sense, this blog fulfilled its purpose. It started as a catalyst to get me to have more fun, move out of my shell, promote happiness and positivity, and live a life that is not mundane! As my posts have taken a steep nose dive in number, I have also noticed that the energy I felt when I first started this blog did not go away, it was just transferred into my daily life.

Pretty much, I faked it until I maked it. Well I was never really faking it. But sometimes it is hard to be positive, accomplish things, and keep things interesting. When I couldn’t do it in the outside world, I would turn to this blog for help. And help it did! This blog served as a foundation, which I am now building a structure on top of that I call my life. Surely there will still be updates and the spreading of that positivity that I have been able to capture. But I also want to make sure this project doesn’t become a stressor.

Partially motivated by this blog, I will be moving south this winter. I think not having a bitter-cold environment where I am essentially cooped up indoors for six months will greatly contribute to my happiness. Also, this is my first real opportunity to see how much I can produce on my own, working the land, and being as self sufficient as possible. I’m sure the move and the new project of homesteading will give me plenty of fodder for Explaining It All moving forward.

Year in Review

I started this blog almost 14 months ago. It has been with me as I published my first book, which was a huge accomplishment for me, helped along, undoubtedly, by this blog. I posted about pursuing those sorts of dreams, turning off the flow of negativity from certain people around us, and taking steps, large or small towards your goals. I wasn’t writing from a high horse, for the readers’ benefit, so much as I was writing while in the pursuit, planning my future, and encouraging myself to keep going.

I am still very much in the pursuit of many things. Publishing a book is cool, by it is not synonymous with selling a book. That remains on the forefront of my goals.

Buy “Anarchy in New England” now! LOL

But life is always a balance between properly planning to make the future great, and ensuring the present is great as well. In addition to career/ self sufficiency progress, I did a lot of having fun/ enjoying life, including a trip to Florida, a cruise, PorcFest (where I met some AMAZING new friends), camping, the Cape, and finally, Iceland!

So enjoy these pictures of Iceland! I will be making a better effort to post more regularly!

iceland blue lagoon

Blue Lagoon, the required stop for tourists. How did I get the whole pool to myself? Went straight from the airport at 8am when they open!

iceland falls

A waterfall of which I don’t know how to say the name. It was big though. See the tiny dots in the background over my left shoulder? People.

iceland hillside

Stopped on the side of the road when I saw this awesome hill and rock. Jumped the barbed wire fence, and gave it a good climb.

iceland lagoon

A glacial lagoon! Saw some seals swimming around.

iceland reykjavic

I was trying to pose like Leif Eriksson, but I didn’t have my longsword and giant ax with me.

iceland silhoette

Winter Blues

Winter does a number on me, as it affects many negatively. This just strengthens my conviction to move somewhere that is warmer all year round. The winter offers a snowball effect to derail many things that make me and others happy.

It is cold. Perhaps this in and of itself would not be such a big deal, but the cold makes me more likely to stay indoors. The problem is, I love the outdoors! It takes that much more effort to go outside though, and that much more energy to enjoy the time outside—a natural warm breeze can invigorate me, and the only good thing about a cold wind is that summer seems so much better in comparison.

I exercise less. With effort I can change this, but the cold is a large disincentive to excercise. Even going to the gym seems undesirable in the cold, and I am less willing to get off the couch, covered by a blanket, and lift some weights. Running outside is essentially off the table for me, despite the people who tell me, “you’ll only be cold for a few minutes”. Then I’ll be sweaty and chaffing in the dry weather.

It gets dark so early. Even in the summertime there is something about when the sun goes down that can trigger those existential thoughts about the inevitability of death. Also, brightness is just happier! I go fewer places and do fewer things. It is not so much that these things are impossible in winter, there are just extra barriers. And when physical barriers are coupled with mental barriers, the tipping point of, “I’m gonna go do it!” becomes harder to reach. Sometimes it is indeed the snow that traps me indoors.

But all is not hopeless!

It just takes is a little strong will, positive vibes, and determination to get yourself out of a funk and just be happy! That is what I talked about last weekend as a guest on the radio show “Under the Gun”. Generally we discuss politics, in reference to my other blog JoeJarvis.me, but this time we did a “happy show” which focused more on the subjects discussed in this blog.

The recording cuts in after the intro for some reason, but the only thing you miss is the Mark Twain quote which starts the show: “Whenever you find yourself in the majority, pause and reflect”. I cannot embed the half hour show here, so if you want to listen, click here to go to my other blog, and listen there. Let Joe Jarvis explain it all with his voice, instead of his keyboard!

Addicted to Happiness: The Brain is Your Dopamine Dealer

I decided to see if there was any science behind the fact that I love vacations (I know, who doesn’t?) and it seems to alter my brain activity. What I found suggests that, like many other enjoyable things, more dopamine is released when you are on vacation enjoying yourself. You see, I may actually be addicted to vacationing.

In the past, dopamine rewarded humans by being released to promote survival. Psychology Today uses an example of a berry patch being found, which promoted survival for primitive humans. So the next time they saw a berry patch, or something that last time led to a berry patch, dopamine is released. This ensures the brain is rewarding things that will help you survive.

But it is not always like that these days, probably because it is so easy to survive. An alcoholic gets a dose of dopamine when he sees a bar, and a doctor when he finishes a surgery. I get a dose of dopamine when I explore a new city. But if I always went to the same city, my brain would not release as much dopamine, so I would need to find a new place to explore in order to get the old “high”.

I made this from Caribbean shells that I picked up in February on my cruise, and first vacation of the year. I attached them to a piece of palm bark from Georgia on my way home from my last vacation of the year. Even though I can't always be on vacation, I can bring back the memories and feelings when I see my little creation.

I made this from Caribbean shells that I picked up in February on my cruise, the first vacation this year. I attached them to a piece of palm bark from Georgia that I found on my way home from my last vacation of the year. Even though I can’t always be on vacation, I can bring back the memories and feelings when I see my little creation.

This is the same thing that happens with setting, working towards, and accomplishing goals. Each of these things encourages your brain to release dopamine, thus helping you on your way to “survival”. When I talk about this small goal/ large goal paradigm to promote happiness, this is the scientific explanation behind it.

Everything that makes your brain release dopamine will inevitably get old, or run its course, which is why you need to always have different types of goals you are working towards and accomplishing. Once you accomplish a goal though, your brain is going to want another. Otherwise, the absence of dopamine will make you feel sad. That is why it is important to diversify your goals, and your hobbies.

Work goals should not be your only source of dopamine, because then you might not be happy when you are at home. And hobbies cannot be your only source of dopamine, because then you will become irritated in other settings. The Psychology Today article points out that we need to make peace with our “unhappy” brain chemicals in order to reap the full benefits of the “happy” chemicals like dopamine.

Eventually your brain will be rewired to the point where it knows it can survive the unhappy chemicals. It is like replacing instant gratification with long term rewards. If you can wait it out, and weather the boring or unhappy times, the dopamine reward in your brain will be that much better when it comes.

If the chemistry behind your feelings interests you, check out the Psychology Today article. It also talks about the other “happy chemicals” that course through your brain. If dopamine equals success, serotonin equals importance, oxytocin trust, and endorphins “brief euphoria that masks physical pain”.

They are all released by our brains to promote survival, though congruent with my theory, our brain is essentially still serving cave man needs. That is why it is important and beneficial to understand our brains, so that we can usher them into the modern era, and make them work for us, instead of being a slave to our brain chemicals.

Why Do We Want What We Don’t Have?

Understanding Our Desires

I think a lot about human evolution, and natural selection. I like to consider what aspects of our feelings and actions are based on what made our ancestors survive. Along that thought process, a line in a country song by Jake Owen called “What We Ain’t Got” sparked my thinking: “We ain’t happy where we are, there’s greener grass in the neighbor’s yard, a bigger house and a faster car, we ain’t happy where we are”.

It is easy to be cliche and say things like, “just appreciate what you have”, or “count your blessings”. While these would be great things to do, I find that deeper understandings of our own feelings help us to cope with them, and change them if necessary. If “we all want what we ain’t got” and recognize that, how do we take the next step to being content with what we have or can achieve?

Well in my humble opinion, I think if we can pinpoint the biological or chemical reasons why we feel that way, we can logically overcome those negative feelings. What is it that makes us always want more, and always want what our neighbors got?

Probably survival. For most of human history, it was hard to survive to reproductive age. This is natural selection, and the ones who did survive to reproduce passed on their genes, and taught their children how to survive. In this sense, having certain traits was beneficial to survival. The desire to always have more must certainly have led to better chances for an individual’s survival.

Now in the days of cave men, this probably meant eating more. The more you eat, the more likely you are to survive the winter, or a prolonged period without proper sustenance. The same applied to hoarding food and supplies. I may have enough food for a week, but wanting enough food for a month meant a better chance of surviving. I may have a nice sharpened stick, but my tribesman over there has a thicker stick with a sharpened rock at the front. I want that. It will help me survive.

In modern times, what is it that we need? Our genes might be telling us we need a better car, more technology, and a bigger house. But are we still stuck in caveman times when the desire to always get more helped us survive? It could be that in this modern world, in order to advance, a different set of wants and needs should be adopted.

This change however is not likely to happen quickly, since the two traits may lead to an equal chance of survival. Growing to reproductive age where you can pass on your traits may be just as attainable for the millionaire with a mansion and a ferrari as it is for the outdoorsman who likes to hike and hunt.

But this also led me to thinking about being happy. If it is ingrained in us that we always need to be advancing in one way or another in order to be happy, then we will never get to that place we dream of. Sometimes I feel like I am waiting to start my life until I reach some point, some amount of money, some type of job, some relationship status. But once I get to that point, would I really just be like, “ok I’m done, I’ve accomplished everything I wanted”? I don’t think so. I think the next step would be to accomplish something else. Set your sights on something greater.

But let me contrast the two types of wanting what we ain’t got. Don’t convince yourself that you will be happy once you get the new iphone, or once you have equal clothes to your friends, or once you buy that nicer house. Working towards and earning these things could very well make you happy, but I doubt that having these things will increase your happiness, unless they are a means rather than an end. If you want a smartphone because you love staying in touch with friends all the time, the smartphone is the means, not the end.

On the other hand, being all you can be will almost certainly make you enjoy life more. Understand why you want what you want, and decide if that is something that will put you in a better spot. Is your desire for more, more, more the result of thousands-years-dead ancestors making sure they survive the winter? Or is that born out of the desire to not remain stagnant?

We all have relatively similar chances of surviving “to pass on our genes”. That is why I don’t think material things make people happy; it is a stale process that gets us no closer to survival, and no further from death. If you want to accumulate things, accumulate accomplishments. This could include a big house, or a new car if you landed your dream job, or started a successful company, but those are not the necessary parts.

The important aspect of growing oneself is gaining skills, gaining knowledge, having goals, having direction. Mindlessly accumulating material items may even be a symptom of unhappiness, of not knowing what you want to accomplish, and having no set goals for yourself or your life.

How I Interpret My Goals

Don’t get me wrong, I want material things as well. But when I assess if I would feel happy when achieving these, I realize there is a sad abyss at the “end” of any journey. If you have ever seen Citizen Kane just think of his huge shadowy mansion, with statues, fountains, and things everywhere. But he dies alone and miserable. Or think about the Shel Silverstein book, The Missing Piece. When he finds his piece, he realizes it was the journey to find the piece that made him happy. The solution is to have no set ending for your journey through life. If your desire is power or money alone, this can get dicey. But if your desire is happiness, and money is a means to that end, rather than the end itself, that is not necessarily unhealthy if you are being honest with yourself.

Why do I want a giant house with lots of bedrooms, walking trails, gardens, and a pool? Because I am happiest when I am with other people, my friends, and my family. Because I enjoy outdoors activities, swimming, and growing vegetables. If I get to the point where I can easily invite friends and relatives from all corners of the country to stay with me, that would contribute to my happiness. If I get to the point where right outside my door is a variety of my favorite things, I will be in general more happy.

Is that the end goal? No, there would need to be more accomplishments, and more to attain after that. I would inevitably get bored, or stuck in a rut, so I would need to find a new productive hobby, start a worthwhile business, travel to remote destinations, and help others attain a better position in their own lives. But currently, it makes sense for me to strive for my vision of my dream home and property.

Can I still be happy if I don’t achieve that? Sure! That can always be in my head as something I want to attain, but I don’t necessarily have to get there to be routinely happy. I can start a garden before I am a millionaire. I can use trails that I don’t own. I can save up for vacations with friends and family, where we will all be together for extended periods of time. I can be happy while on the path to those achievements, because I am making progress, and achieving goals.

After camping with my family, it was disappointing to have to go back to the real world. In fact I started this blog coming off of a vacation mentality that I wanted to keep forever. My goal is to always feel as good as I feel while on vacation. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy until I get there, if I get there.

As with so much else in life, there is a balance. Be happy with where you are, but not to the point that you stagnate and lose that appreciation for your accomplishments. Strive for achievement and gain, but don’t let the goal blind you from the enjoyment of the journey.

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