You are a part of the most affluent global moment in the entire history of the world. Think about that for a second.
Consider how all the discoveries and inventions stacked on top of one another throughout the centuries led to this moment – to the aeroplane, the phone in your pocket, the fact that none of your kids will probably die in childbirth…
And yet, are we any happier than the people before us, who didn’t enjoy these things we mostly take for granted?
Nope. Not a jot. But it’s nothing to feel guilty about.
We are human beings, and it is in our nature to adapt. We adapt to adverse circumstances, but we also adapt to bountiful ones. This doesn’t make us bad, or spoilt. It’s simply how we are. It is a fact of life.
Just as more and better “stuff” has not made the human race happier, more and better “stuff” will not make you happier, personally. What will is appreciating just how good things are.
But you can’t just tell yourself “things are great now,” and expect to feel any different. We learn through experience. And especially through contrast.
The solution I like is fasting.
Fasting gets a bad rep, because it brings to mind scrawny Asians in the lotus position starving themselves in the hope of achieving enlightenment. I’m not proposing this.
But what I’m talkinga about is a much broader view of fasting, and seeing it simply as a conscious, temporary deprivation of something you have become accustomed to. Anything.
Go a day without switching on your phone. Nothing bad will happen. Your followers will still be there the next day.
Skip dinner now and then. You won’t starve. Trust me.
Wrap up in layers tonight instead of putting the heating on. Just for one night.
Basically, what you’re looking for is anything in your daily life that you take for granted – something you see as a fact of life – and then you’re trying to go without it just for a little bit.
You see, when these things become facts of life, you quickly become numb to them. Worse than that, you feel like you couldn’t live without them. Since this is never actually true, you are literally living a lie. You are, in a way enslaved, by these things.
Of course, one solution to this would be to rid yourself of all these things – cut them out of your life completely. But I don’t want you to do that. And it wouldn’t work anyway.
Fast instead – cut them out just temporarily. It’s almost like a little “reset” button, enabling you to actually enjoy things again, instead of just going through the motions with them. Imagine how different an apple would taste after 24 hours with no food, as opposed to after stuffing yourself with a giant Sunday roast.
The thing I like most about doing these little mini-fasts – which I wish I did more often – is the way it shows to me how little I really NEED in life. And the less needs you have, the easier it is to satisfy them.