I’d like to extend a wish of a very happy holiday season to all of you. Chances are, your holidays will be pretty happy. You’ll get presents, have some time off from work, maybe even get to see some family. The greater challenge by far is to have a happy first week back at work. The culture we live in has created an environment where we are most happy when we are getting new products and presents. Some buddhists say one of the biggest causes of suffering is longing for something we do not have.
As a game enthusiast, I often find myself day-dreaming of the next sequel to one of my favorite games. I spend a lot of time just wanting games that don’t come out for weeks or even months. This time is not enjoyable, and then when the game finally comes out, I am happy for a week or two, and then there’s a new game on the horizon and the cycle begins again. It’s a bad habit that I’d like to get out of, as it causes me to spend more time unhappy than happy. This is OBVIOUSLY a first-world problem, and I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m using myself as an example to show you how material goods are more likely to make you unhappy than happy.
Our consumer christmas is going to make us very happy in the short term, but once we go back to work in January, we crash. You’ve heard the phrase “Don’t try to have the things you want, rather want the things you have.” I’d like to urge you to exercise that sentiment this holiday season. One new holiday tradition I started last year is for New Years Day. I try to go back and play every video game I bought from the previous year. While I play those games, I try to remember how much I anticipated their launches. I try to imagine how much the me from the past would love to be where I am now. This helps me remember that life is actually pretty good. I have an income, I have a roof, I am well fed, and my stocks are pumping out dividends while I sleep.
So when I say “Happy Holidays,” I don’t mean that I hope you get what you want, I hope that you want what you have.