This is Part II in my new 5-part series on how less is more in different ways!
We live in an age of information. Not only is information readily available wherever we go (thanks to our portable devices and an abundance of wireless networks), it is also actively and indiscriminately thrust into our faces 24/7, everywhere we go – whether we need it or not.
In the mess of information we receive every day, it is crucial that we learn how to sieve out what is really relevant and necessary to us, rather than allow smart advertising to decide that for us. After all, advertising is done with the aim of getting you to purchase a certain product or service, and convince you that you absolutely need it – that you would be the happiest person in the world if you had it.
Of course, this is a blatant lie. Most things that a person believes would make him/her happy usually fail to do so in the long run.
“But if I got this, I won’t ever need another thing again! This would last me for a really long time!”
Lies! No matter how advanced is the product or service that we have, there is always something better that will come out, whether it be in the next few months or years. Humans are just made this way – we can never be satisfied with worldly things, because they merely plug a gap. After a while, we need to keep up with the latest “happy item”. Such happiness is a social construct – determined by societal perception. If something is deemed out of fashion, it can no longer provide someone with the same happiness it did while it was still hip.
What I am trying to say is this: Happiness based on having more things is a never-ending roller coaster – it is dependent on the tracks of society, and is never, ever constant.
So one’s dependency on having more things to secure happiness is inevitably doomed to failure.
So how to go beyond that, and find happiness that lasts?
I’ve recently finished Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of Zappos) bestselling book , Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, which not only gave me some incredible insight and perspective on happiness in a business context, but I also came to realize that the same principles he expounds on can be applied outside of business as well, to daily life.
Adapting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Tony states that there are three levels of happiness: Pleasure, Passion and Higher Purpose. The happiness based on having more things to give a “high” each time is the Pleasure type of happiness, because it only lasts a while. Passion is the next level – it is described as “flow”, when one is doing what one enjoys at peak performance. The highest level would be Higher Purpose, which comes about when one is engaged in something that is bigger than oneself and that has meaning to that person.
In my own terms, this is Passion with a Larger Purpose, which is Compassion.
I’ve talked about how vital compassion is, and this shows how it benefits the giver as well – sustained, Higher Purpose type of happiness.
At the end of the day, I could sum up the equation as this: Long-term Happiness = Less for Me, More for Others.