This is a continuation of Expectations Vs. Reality, Part 1.
I encourage you to read Part 1 before reading this entry. The second example I will write about in this Expectations Vs. Reality topic is concerning material things.
In my life, there was always something I wanted to buy. I thought that if I had that thing, it would change my life. If I buy this pair of new shoes, I’m going to look so good. I can’t wait to wear it so my friends will be impressed.
If it wasn’t shoes, it was something else. It was a new jacket. It was a new iPhone. It was a new apartment. It never ended. Sure, the rush that comes with purchasing something new is real. But that rush of adrenaline and happiness doesn’t last forever. The expectation that it would last forever was not actual reality.
One of the biggest examples that I am guilty of was when I bought a new car. This was in my early 20’s. I had just gotten my first real job out of college and was making the big bucks. Since I had been working so hard my whole life to get to that point, I felt that I deserved something nice for myself.
I woke up that day and went to the dealership with my dad. I remember the anticipation, the excitement I felt. I remember thinking how much my life was going to change after this—I couldn’t wait to pull up to work the next day so my co-workers could see; to show off to my friends; to let my family know that “I’m successful;” thinking that I would get so many girls with this new car. I expected my life to change after that purchase.
It’s been almost 6 years since the day I bought that car. I still drive it today. However, it has almost no effect on my day-to-day happiness. I could be driving any other car, as long as it was dependable, and it wouldn’t affect how I felt on a daily basis. Sure, a lot of the stuff that I envisioned actually did happen—my co-workers and friends were impressed, my family thought I was successful, and I didn’t do too badly in attracting girls.
But were they impressed with me, or with they impressed with the shiny new car?
Either way, that adrenaline rush of a big purchase, the fleeting happiness that came with it, was just that: fleeting. If I look at that car today, which is sitting in the garage downstairs, I don’t all of a sudden become filled with joy and pleasure. The newness has worn off. The excitement is gone.
Reality has set in.
I see a lot of people, my friends included, who buy a lot of stuff. I don’t judge them when they purchase new things, but I realized that I’m just not that way anymore. I don’t need the new phone. I don’t need the new clothes.
All I need is the basics. Because I know that buying new stuff won’t make me happy. I know that material things don’t control my happiness.
I’m in control of my own happiness.
I came to the realization that material things shouldn’t control how I feel. When there was something that I wanted but couldn’t afford or obtain, then it would affect my feelings. It would make me feel down or sad. But why should I let that happen? Why should I let a material object have so much control over me, like it is pulling the strings and I am just a puppet?
Even just recently, I have been wanting the Google Home. Over the Christmas season, there was a lot of hype and talk about that and similar types of product, like the Amazon Echo. I would hear about it on the news and read about it over the Internet. I really wanted one. For several days and weeks, I kept thinking how cool it would be to have. To just say, Google, open Spotify and play me my Party Playlist, and then music would play through my speakers without me lifting a finger. If I had guests over, they would be so impressed. But again, I asked myself, would they be impressed with me or would they be impressed with the technology? And why I am even yearning for their approval in the first place?
If I hadn’t discovered meditation and mindfulness, I’d probably already have caved in to my shallow desires and bought a Google Home by now. I would have let the advertising, the marketing, the hype, the expectations of buying that product, win over me. I would have let that material thing decide how I felt.
But that’s not going to happen. No, I want to be the one to decide if I am happy or not. I want to choose how to feel. Ever since I started meditating, I’ve had this feeling of independence and freedom. For the first time, I was taking control over my life. I wasn’t letting work, school, co-workers, friends, family members or parents control me. I wasn’t letting external factors affect the way I live and feel.
In my life, that’s all there is to it.
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