Cripes-that must win the prize for longest ever blog post title…
I was e-mailed recently by a company called Happify– “a NYC-based company with a vision to bring the science of happiness to mass market in an entirely new way” to see if I would be interested in piloting their Pioneers programme.
I was intrigued so I clicked on the links and had a read. I am not sure it is really for me, but it got me thinking about Happiness and whether Making Do and Mending could make us all happier.
And I think as long as you are not trying to blog about it, and save the world at the same time, then yes, it really does.
We are all told that money and ‘things’ do not equate to happiness. There are numerous studies that hit the headlines periodically about how we are now less happy as a nation than we were 50 years ago, even though most of us now have a better standard of living, and possibly more disposable income, and certainly more gadgets and ‘stuff’.
But who of us actually believes that enough to de-clutter and live a minimalist lifestyle? To give away our wordly goods and live a truly simple life.
Who of us is brave enough to really chase our dreams and give it all up to live The Good Life like good old Tom and Barbara?
Since starting My Make Do and Mend Year, my life has got busier and more complicated rather than simpler. But that is only because I have chosen to blog about it, and try and do 80 million other things, like start up an Upcycle Exchange, a Repair Cafe, and run Charity Sewing Days. Oh, and look after, feed and entertain 2 Smalls. That aside, I think it would be simpler. Yes, everything may take a bit more thought and time, but in some ways that is good. It forces us to slow down and focus on what we really want. If I’m not prepared to spend an hour of my time making someone a gift, should I really be giving them anything at all?
Buy what My Make Do and Mend Year is missing, and what I think we all sometimes mistake happiness for nowadays, is….
The curse of our generation, it would seem, or so we are told anyway.
We have grown up in an era pretty much untouched by the needs for constraint or waiting.
We have been told, endlessly, day in and day out, by the very clever ad-men and ladies, that we need newer, shinier, bigger, brighter, more. And that we deserve it. And that we need it NOW. And that it will make us happy.
We have been brainwashed into thinking that we need all these things to makes our lives complete, and that our lives will be better, we will be happier, if we go out and buy stuff.
And maybe for a minute or two, we are happier, we are chuffed to bits with our newer, bigger, brighter, shinier whatever. But then they bring out another even newer, even shinier one, and ours now looks dull and boring and out of date. And we feel sad.
It’s a little bit like the choice between going for a run and eating a chocolate bar, or having a glass of wine.
I like eating chocolate and drinking wine.
But I know that in the long run it makes me feel pretty pants (doesn’t stop me doing it though), I gain weight and feel pretty rubbish about myself.
I am trying to make myself go running at the moment and it is the polar opposite. I don’t especially like it, I am not one of these people who gets a huge endorphin high after plodding slowly around the block, but in the long term it makes me feel much better about myself. Much happier.
So why is it soooo much harder to get out of the door and go for a run than it is to sit on the sofa and scoff Maltesers?
I think it all comes back to our need for instant gratification.
If I sit on the sofa and eat Maltesers, they are yummy, I am happy for a minute or two, I feel I have given myself the treat we are all told we deserve, and it is not until later that the guilt sets in.
If I go for a run, it is hard work, and hot and sweaty, and it is not until later that the smug self-satisfied “I have done a good thing” feeling kicks in, and I am happy!
What I am trying to say in my very rambling way, is that Buying Nothing New is a bit like going for a run.
It can be harder work than the instant fix of modern day consumerism. It can take a bit of patience, and (heaven forbid) a bit of waiting to find or make what you are looking for, but then that self-satisfied smug feeling of having done a ‘good thing’ kicks in. Along with the happiness!
So how do we break this endless cycle of instant gratification and consumerism and not really being all that happy?
How do we make living sustainably, and being happy about the choices you have made, ‘cool’ and mainstream and normal. Not just because it is a ‘good thing’ to do, but because it is the ONLY thing to do if we are to stand a chance of preserving the way of life we have at the moment, and the beautiful planet we live on.
How do we, truly, get happy?
Answers on a postcard please….