Happiness cannot exist when commercialism replaces community


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Let me first squash the cries of hypocrisy by saying that I enjoy the finer things in life just as much (perhaps more) than the next person. Give me the suits, the watches, the cars…

But when I decided to move to Los Angeles in May of 2017, I was willing to give all of that up for the sake of pursuing a passion. I sold my car, all of my furniture, and took a single suitcase of clothing across the country before spending the following year renting a single room in an apartment. No bedroom furniture besides a bed. No car. Shopping on the clearance rack to look good for event and media appearances.

Ultimately, making the choice to move back to the east coast because of what was TRULY important to me: Being close to family.

During this time of year, when we spend Thursday giving thanks for what’s important, and Friday trampling each other for the sake of a discount on material items, the confused view of society about what really matters in life seems a little extra cloudy.

I often think back to ancient civilizations where, granted barbarism and restrictive laws reigned, there was a sense of honor and belonging that drove actions, values, and decision making. People wanted their names to echo in eternity for acts of honor and valor. They wanted to belong and be part of a society. To spend their lives working, building, or creating something bigger than themselves that would last forever.

Today we seem to be playing a game of who can gain the most followers, create the most beautiful Instagram, and fill the biggest closet.

I am not exempt, I admit that.

The key, though, is balance. Is understanding what is truly valuable and what is simply frosting on the cake. To not lose sight of creating a life while we look to make a living.

Seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak.

I watch Black Friday videos of people storming the doors at the opening bell like the running of the bulls. Fighting each other over TV’s and iPads and discounted items like sharks who have smelled blood. A longstanding tradition that I will never understand.

Some may say this is a once a year occurrence and I shouldn’t make social observations based on isolated incidents, but is it really?

This day is simply a hyper-focused ignition of a more widespread problem, much like a magnifying glass lighting something on fire. It is energy that swirls around us constantly as we are bombarded by advertisements in the middle of Facebook videos, surrounded by billboards, flashed with commercials at every turn.

We are creating a society of scarcity, always making people remember what they cannot, and do not have.

A constant reminder of what’s missing, rather than being grateful for what is already around us. Family. Friends. Those we care about. How far we’ve come rather than how far is left to go.

As the holidays approach, remember that the single best gift you can give to someone is the gift of your time and attention. Volunteer in your community. Reconcile with a loved one. Spend a little extra time after dinner rather than running off. Sit and enjoy each other.

Maybe if we started prioritizing deeper relationships again, we wouldn’t drive ourselves crazy trying to fill the void with material things.

Appreciate it when people spend their time with you, more than when they spend their money on you. Money you can get more of. Time, you can’t.

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