Happiness and the simple life

  • June 8, 2007
TORONTO - I was walking along Queen Street in downtown Toronto with my friend and dwelling on the fact that I had flooded the entire grocery store where I work by leaving the produce hose on. I was scared about what I had to face the next day at work and upset that I made such a careless mistake.
But as I walked on wearing a frown on my face, a homeless man looked at my friend and me and said, “Smile, it’s Saturday!”

I could not help but feel embarrassed after this encounter -- to see someone who was in a much worse off state than me telling me to smile. It made my problems seem very trivial. The man, who probably had no job at all, was perfectly happy while I was mourning over work-related issues. It really dawned on me how many things I generally take for granted.

We are living in a “glass half empty” era. No matter how much people receive, they are still unsatisfied and want more. A person can have a fantastic life yet be completely unhappy because it does not meet their expectations, or more importantly, society’s. To be happy now means one must own an expensive car, the latest fashions and have a glamourous job. To me, being happy always meant being surrounded by loving friends and family, though I must admit that having an iPod couldn’t hurt, could it?

The truth is it could. Maybe not the iPod itself (though my hearing has been a little off lately), but the expectation that the iPod is your key to happiness. The ideal that whatever item is popular on the market will satisfy your hunger for happiness... until of course something better comes along. This way of thinking will leave us consistently unhappy because we will become dependent on material items to keep us content.

The happiness we desire can easily be found in family, church, friends and prayer. Those are only a few of the things that come to mind. Whenever I have an issue that is troubling me I turn to one of them for advice. A little trick my sister taught me when dealing with problems is to ask yourself this question: “Will this bother me in a month?” If the answer is no, then what you are worried about probably isn’t that big a deal.

We have to stop looking past unnecessary things to find joy. Will a cell phone be there for you when you are older and feel alone? The next time you need forgiveness for your sins will you consult your iPod? I highly doubt it. Keep these things in mind the next time you feel upset or worried. Joy can usually be found in the simpler things in life. Once you understand all of this you can get out there and get happy.

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