Having More Won’t Make Us Happy

Having more does not necessarily mean having more happiness.

Barbara Walters interviewed billionaire media mogul David Geffen in a conversation published in More Than Money magazine: “She said, ‘O.K., David, now that you’re a billionaire, are you happy?’ He shot back without hesitation: ‘Barbara, anybody who believes money makes you happy doesn’’t have money.’”

It’s a brilliant insight, because money doesn’’t make you happy. Alternet recently posted an excerpt of Bill McKibben‘s recent book Deep Economy: The Wealth of Community and a Durable Future. I recommend the excerpt highly; it explores the idea that the foundation of our economic assumptions must be re-evaluated and re-tooled for our modern context.

Bill speaks to the heart of the matter: Our civilization has conditioned us to believe that more is better, because we believe simply more makes us happy. We all know it’s not true, but many of us are not willing to face our inner shadow work to really embody this truth in our day-to-day lives.

On a similar note, I find many in our circle of friends in the sustainability movement – myself included – living lives of accumulation and consumption even with a “modest” lifestyle. Yet as human beings, we know that more “stuff” won’t make us happy.

I was speaking about this matter with my friend Marc Barasch, an accomplished author and current Executive Director of the Green World Campaign. Marc said: “The Buddhist tradition states that craving keeps the world of Samsara [eternal suffering] turning.”

He continued: “What people want is love and community and the society tends to systematically undermine the means of attaining that, and consumerism is the addictive substitute. The pleasure of the addiction becomes dry and insipid and becomes simply maintenance dosage to avoid greater and greater pain. And it is this collective maintenance of our consumerism addiction that habitually and automatically devours the planet’s resources.”

So, since you and I have grown up in this system, we are best able to recognize the heart of the matter and begin to deal with the problem at its core. Simply put, in order for us all to manifest the sustainable world built on loving kindness to all beings, we just have to get down to this crucial “shadow work” inside of our own heart of hearts.

You know what I am talking about: this work of overcoming our rampant consumer addiction can only be done inside ourselves. We don’t need anyone else to know what I am referring to, and we don’t need anyone else to do this work inside us. The opportunity is right here, right now.

Counselling Burnaby Vancouver, Via Counselling & Consulting. Burnaby Counsellor Shari Wood, M.Ed., R.C.C. dedicated to helping clients begin their personal therapeutic journey. A Clinical Counsellor, specializing in helping people overcome self-doubt and build healthy relationships.