It’s the 21st century. People fly to the moon, other people can watch it on their smartphones. We have large, thin TVs with hundreds of channels in our apartments, and thanks to the Internet – unlimited access to knowledge. There is a wider assortment of stores than our grandparents, great-grandmothers and the whole generation back could have possibly dreamed about. We can travel to a different corner of the world at any time – you can drink a tea with the Bedouins in the desert, and then wander around the mountains of Nepal. For all that, we have unlimited possibilities to earn money.
After all, we still ask for more, and when we get it, for some reason we are still not happy.
Your great-grandfather would probably be surprised if you told him that there is no need of keeping the farm animals in a hut so that it would be a little warmer in the winter. Being in an Old Village open-air museum, I am very happy I live in these times. A Trip back in time such as this one allows you to appreciate certain things that we don’t appreciate every day. I cannot imagine a winter in those days – without heating at your fingertips, without a sauna, without heated leather armchairs in a car, without a pleasure of watching your woman walking around the flat in skimpy sexy lingerie, and without a possibility of going skiing in the mountains. Back then it was replaced by a moonshine and hard work.
Back to the subject…
We’ve believed in the world of perfection
We have believed in perfection, beautiful and ideal people, beautiful lives, and beautiful pictures – there is no sadness in the world of perfection. Social media, commercials, television, they all tell us how fucking awesome everyone around life is but not ours. We are stuck in a peculiar Plato cave – we see only the shadows of reality. We are the masters of showing other people that life is great while being depressed at the same time. While experiencing the moments, travelling it seems that the quality of our camera in a smartphone is more important. We become a side product of feedback.
If we could pay in a store with all those likes, hearts and stars, we would probably be the experts of kissing people’s arses. Relations become shallower – it is much easier to replace them, and the awareness of being disliked is like a modern form of the Egyptian plagues. Every positive virtual reaction produces dopamine inside us. We become drug addicts – we dope likes. We become the prisoners of feedback. This is highly addictive, but as with the other addictive substances, there is no warning label. We are pushing the boundary of the good tact because showing a naked arse on Instagram is not surprising anyone anymore. In the world of beautiful, wise and popular ones, people are thirsty for authenticity.
We forget that everything in this world is dual. There is no happiness without sadness. The world of perfection is an idealised world that drives in complexes, making us realise that something is missing. You start to consume more and ask yourself more often ‘What happiness is and why I am not happy?’
The world of perfection knows what we are missing and surely will want to sell it us.
Don’t let the material things define you
The world was built on fallacious values. Another smartphone and running after Pokémons. We become slaves of a product. This shows the degeneration of our values. As the Indians say, we are free as much as our conscience allows us to. (Just play a Youtube video showing the opening of a new shopping centre).
‘Somehow I think that the more items you possess, the more these items posses you, than other way round. I feel the best when I have almost nothing with me.’
Krzysztof Gonciarz – traveller and a blogger
Having more and more material goods, we are still chasing after something indefinite. We are missing something emotionally, physically, and spiritually – we think it can be bought. Companies do not sell things anymore, but emotions, values and feelings. Coca-Cola – a happy family on Christmas, Pepsi – the joy of summer, IKEA – a moment… But these things don’t provide us emotions, values, or feelings we need. What else I am missing… Oh, just a gyroscope, only a gyroscope and I will be happy. We confuse happiness with pleasure.
We take lifetime loans that we cannot afford – because our own home gives us happiness. It’s so obvious – a happy family on every developer billboard. Let us buy happiness, our own little space that we will be able to fill with accumulated junk. We live in an overpaid flat, sometimes of the size of a bird feeder built from the cheapest materials that was slipped to us by the developer. From today, for the next 30 years, we will drudge for the bank.
We think that at last, we will loosen up a bit, but our standards are growing, and despite possessing material goods that are enough for us to live freely, we are still chasing after something indefinite…
„The things you own end up owning you.”
‘Fight Club’, 1999
Which one of us did not get pissed off when the woman they love above all accidentally scratched the body of the car? Which one of you did not get mad when the loved one accidentally spilt something on a new blouse, boots or trousers? It is just a piece of galvanized sheet metal and a piece of cloth, but we can act like wild monkeys in a life-threatening situation.
We are pissed of when our dog, wanting to play with us, jumps on our trousers, leaving the footprints, but what are these footprints compared to the hairy 5-kilogram ball of love? After all, the dog didn’t make your trousers dirty on purpose.
We waste the best times of our lives
We drudge to death in the best times of our lives, only to make use of it at its end. We have believed the mainstream, that everyone through hard work can become a millionaire. We are hungry for success – more prestige, more fame, and more money. We are running at an alarming rate. What treasures justify dedicating the best years of our lives? The biggest waste is not throwing out food and lamenting about that children in Africa are starving, but waking up being middle-aged and noticing that the life has flowed past you.
We are burning out in our youth, our bodies are getting old at a mad speed, and our mind loses its brilliance and passion for life. Our natural curiosity, enthusiasm and necessary energy are dying. We fall into the blood-thirsty snares of routine and the clock ticks the rhythm.
Hard work has stopped being a value and our time is limited. I believe in hard work, especially targeted into something, but I think we must be able to keep the balance in life.
It’s normal to feel like shit!
For some people happiness is a bar of chocolate, for others it’s good food at a restaurant, and for other people it’s a newer car, bigger apartment, or an apartment at all. We think that temporary pleasures will compensate the lack of that ‘something’. Of course, we need that apartment, but let’s not delude ourselves that it’s going to give us happiness itself. There are those who see happiness in the acceptance of their peers, the other half, the number of admirers, or the number of likes below their photo taken just above the toilet seat with a face like a duck during the breeding season (I have nothing against these). There is a reason why they say that the present generation is a generation of narcissists – blindly self-absorbed, believing that they are unique, but when clashing with the real life they will get cut to ribbons. The problem is that their self-esteem is based on what the others think about them. And how can we talk about self-esteem if it’s based on the opinions of others?
A guy in India, toiling from dusk to dawn with rakes in his garden, seems to be happier than the all of us. What does he have that we don’t have?
– Rakes… Yes, rakes are the key to happiness!
Perhaps, first of all, it’s worth realising that it’s normal to feel shitty. So before we start wondering if something’s wrong with us, we grab another chocolate bar or ice-cream and start filling our lives with temporary pleasures that illusively compensate our sadness. We should accept that it’s normal, from time to time, to feel down, sad and not wanting to do anything. Life is a sinusoid, you need to complete all the stages from raise to fall, in order to develop. Permanent happiness exists only in social media, films and commercials. It doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire, a beautiful model, a rock star, or Mike Tyson. We will always have our bad days.
Probably even the Buddha, waking during a worse day, wonders ‘why do I need all of this, does it make any sense?’ Or maybe just leave everything and head for Amazonia?
There are three pillars of happiness of which you can hear from people who are not yet brainwashed by commercials and the culture of consumerism: gratitude, positive thinking and focusing on what you have and what you can do. Personally, I think it’s the same with happiness as it’s for self-confidence – they are natural side effects of your life, meaning all smaller and larger life experiences. And you absolutely do not wonder whether you’re happy, you just are. And why gratitude? Just because your floor might be the ceiling for others.
Thanks for reading! It means the absolute world to me.