Musings On the Meaning of it All

Welcome to my new blog! I wanted to start things off with some ideas that have been swirling around my head for years. I’ve finally taken the time to get these ideas down on ‘paper’ and it feels so liberating. Read on to learn more…

I’ve recently been giving some serious thought to the meaning of life. Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the age of 30. What’s funny is that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been just as happy as I am today. And all of that constant happiness is despite the fact that as my life has progressed I have acquired more and more things. So, it occurs to me: does acquiring more things really make us more happy?

It sort of seems like, at least in Western society, the purpose of life is to acquire as much stuff as possible before you croak. I appreciate that this is not a particularly bright characterization of the purpose of life, but it’s definitely the undercurrent of a lot of things we see. We all seem to be told that getting a good job, working hard, and making a lot of money will help us buy a lot of great stuff, with which will come a great deal of happiness.

But, I remember being a pretty happy go lucky person when, back to my high school days, I was perpetually broke. Being broke didn’t mean we couldn’t have a good time though; it just dictated the sort of fun we could have. In other words, cheap fun. Fast forward 10 years and I’ve got a job and a decent salary, with which come some things like an apartment and a car, and some disposable income to boot. And while those things let me have more expensive fun (or at least relatively more expensive), I’m not sure how much more happy I am as a result. To be totally honest, it seems like I am having the same amount of fun, just with the added anxiety of having to know that I’m due back at my office and piles of work come Monday morning!

What does make me more happy these days, at least for a temporary period of time, are experiences. Getting a day off here and there, or taking extended vacation, make for my happiest days. Could it be that we’ve all fallen for a trick? In an effort to become happier, we are all trading our waking hours at our jobs in exchange for money, which we use to buy more stuff, which doesn’t increase our happiness levels at the end of the day. But, if only we could use those waking hours to have experiences that are fun and rewarding, we would directly increase your happiness levels. We might have a bit less cash in our pocket, but does that matter if we are happier?

This probably isn’t a revolutionary concept, and it’s probably occurred to many of the people that step away from the 9 to 5 world in order to try life as an entrepreneur. Flexibility is awesome, and if I had it I would definitely spend more of my week enjoying the outdoors instead of strapped to the desk in my office.

But how do we achieve it? The problem is that most jobs are the usual 9 to 5 routine. Although a lot of jobs can be much more intense than that, the 9 to 5 routine is still fairly onerous. In particular, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for recreation during the week. If you’re a health-conscious cheapskate like me, you’re probably inclined to prepare your own meals, which means that your weekday evenings are probably spent making dinner and then cleaning up afterwards. Most of us get our weekends off, but, if we have to be honest, much of the weekend is probably spent decompressing from the physical and or emotional strain of the prior work week, or taking care of stuff that you need to get ready for the next work week.

So, the traditional lifestyle may not actually be bringing us closer to a more happy, fulfilling life. It seems, then, that those of us who have the courage to step away from a traditional lifestyle and try something different should do it. Doing so is probably going to be a bit uncomfortable, and it probably won’t always win everyone’s approval, especially those of our parents’ generation, but it does seem pretty clear that, for some of us, that’s the only way to live life to the fullest.

Interesting thoughts… 🙂