Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (a Tibetan Buddhist Nun) once said, “One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.”
Those words ring especially true when I think about the widespread wealth and technology in the world today, and yet problems like depression are at plague levels, even in first world countries. We know in our minds that many people have found misery in wealth and happiness in scarcity, but that is a scary direction for a lot of us to truly consider. After all, we know that poverty doesn’t grant happiness in and of itself, either.
So, what do we do to find happiness? That is truly a question for the ages. This question has been asked for thousands of years, and people are still trying to answer it even today. We know what someone must do to become stronger or faster. We even sometimes know what a person would have to do to become richer…but how do we become happier than we are now? That seems to be something that each of us has to find out on our own, to a certain degree, but I believe that we should remember the wisdom of Tenzin Palmo – that happiness isn’t going to force itself upon us from the outside, no matter what we have. We must pursue finding happiness from within.
A perfect example of finding happiness from within happens in the story of The Lion King. Yes, I do love my Disney . Anyways, we have the main character, Simba, who believes that when he grows up to be King, he can finally be happy. Now, due to the scheming of his uncle Scar, his life as Prince of the Jungle is ruined, and he is left an outcast, wandering on his own.
However, when things are at their worst for young Simba, he comes across two lovable characters with a great philosophy – Hakuna Matata:
Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata, ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days
It’s our problem free philosophy, Hakuna Matata
Timon and Pumbaa know how to let the worries of life slide off of them like water off a duck’ back, and thus find inner peace and happiness. This is something that they are able to teach to young Simba, who is able to overcome the trauma of his father’s death and find happiness. He now knows how to be at peace with himself – whether he’s a king or just a wanderer in the jungle.
So, how does minimalism fit into all of this? For one thing, minimalism has helped me focus my attention where it needs to be. I knew that I wanted fulfillment and meaning in my life REALLY badly, so I decided get rid of the things that didn’t help to that end. Oddly enough, the more I got rid of, the more that I discovered in my life that didn’t help me. There was so much that I had that didn’t make me any happier, or help me do something meaningful. By getting rid of many of my “things,” the true quality of my life went up.
I know that minimalism has helped me in my efforts to develop my own happiness, and I personally believe it can still help many, many more people. There is a good reason that it has become a movement and a community again in this modern age – people are realizing that chasing the accumulation of “things” is the wrong way to go about life. Knowing this, I shall continue to work on creating peace and happiness within myself, and I wish everyone else the best of luck in that same journey.