Friday, July 2, 2010

Freedom to Be

"Lives based on having are less free than lives based on either doing or on being."

- William James -

We all need things. We need food and shelter. We need transportation and clothing. We need a way of getting money to buy these things.

But do we need all that we have?
We are freer than we think, simply because we have more than we really need. But most of us have a concept, called "this is what it means to be successful," that we are striving to meet. And for most of us, that concept includes a lot of stuff that we don't yet have.
There is nothing wrong with having stuff. But when there is a difference between the amount of stuff we have, and the amount of stuff we think we should have, it creates suffering.
We assume, though, that the way to ease our suffering is to get what we want. When the secret might actually be to want less in the first place.
Easier said than done. But when we look at the moments in which we are happiest, they tend not to be the times that we are spending with the things that we have.
It could be a sunset. A lover's touch. A baby's smile. Moments of transcendence in the midst of ordinary lives.
There are other moments, too. A presentation to a big account. A big sale. A new idea. Challenges that are met and bring personal satisfaction.
If your car or house bring that kind of satisfaction, that's great. But it can be a worthwhile exercise to look at the things in your life and see what they bring for you. If they bring joy, keep them. If, on the other hand, they are more burden than bliss, it might be worth rethinking.
Here's to a weekend of celebrating freedom.

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