Picture this: a family of seven living in a basement apartment with two bed rooms, a bath, and a living room/dining room/kitchen. Not too bad. If you were to peek inside you would find that the table takes up most of the room that would normally have been used to play or live in. Quite cramped. Then look into the kids’ bedroom where you see that the whole room isn’t much bigger than the average bathroom. Crammed in there is a bunk bed, two small crib-size beds, -one of which is hanging out of the tiny closet- a cardboard box and no floor space to be found. Some would say that these meager surroundings would make this family unhappy.
I say otherwise.
I disagree, because the family that lived in this apartment was my family. It was I who slept halfway into the closet and my baby brother who spent his nights in that cardboard box with nothing more then a folded up blanket for a mattress. It may not look like much, but we were incredibly happy because we found joy in each other. This is why I believe that happiness has nothing to do with what or how much you possess.
I know firsthand that belongings can make one happy for a time, but eventually the glamour will fade or version 2.0 will come out. Suddenly, what one has just isn’t enough. I have also seen friends try to find happiness in more addicting things like drugs, video games or even food. Sadly, however, they eventually spiral further and further down into the dark pit of depression and even death. No, true happiness comes from people. Interacting, caring for and loving people are the only ways to find lasting happiness. There is nothing better than getting to know and love someone.
I try to get to know people every chance I get. Even if it is for five minutes on the bus, I get to take a look into their paradigm. It is an amazing to way expand my own ideas and to appreciate theirs. Learning to love other people brings me a happiness and a sense of self-worth that no other thing can bring. There are so many people out there that have their own story to tell, and stepping out of my shell I have learned to love the diversity that everyone can bring to the playing field.
Now we live in a three-story house with many nice things, and even though we don’t have to sleep with five to a room and we get along just fine financially, I still look back on the times when our income was as big as the room we slept in. When all we had was each other, but that was enough. This is where I get my belief that true and lasting happiness comes from learning to love people, not possessions.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.