Now that we have our solar panels installed, I thought I would be so happy. I am, but the feeling is fleeting. The same thing happened after we got replacement windows, or even when I get a book from Amazon, or the perfect all purpose travel blazer. But it’s not just about stuff. Often I wait with great anticipation for our kids to visit or to get an award. Somehow, I keep thinking that this purchase, event, or accomplishment will make me happy – and it does…for a very short time. Bottom line: Happiness of this kind is fleeting. I know that, but the emotional promise is still alluring.

So, is there anything that brings lasting happiness? Healthy relationships, having a spiritual core, working at something you love, finding meaning in life are all things that come to my mind. Usually these deeper satisfactions go beyond material stuff.

It was with this attitude that I watched Graham Hill’s Ted talk, Less stuff, more happiness. By virtue of my organized personality I really liked his super efficient, tiny apartment, which was clear of clutter and employed multiple use furniture. This was appealing. But, I realized that even if I had the perfect tiny house, this would not automatically bring lasting happiness. Some sages say that happiness is an inside job. True, but perhaps even truer is that happiness involves giving ourselves to others. Some examples that come to mind are:

  • Meaningful relationships (friendship, marriage, family)
  • Service
  • Commitment to the common good
  • Helping those in need

Pair these with time to be self-reflective and ponder creation and the prime source (who I call God) – maybe that’s enough.

How have you found happiness that lasts?