‘…The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares it’s resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally…’
~ The Irish Proclamation, 1916
For this author, personally, the term italicised above, is the single most important term in the Irish Proclamation read aloud on the steps of the GPO, Easter Weekend, 1916. It’s most important, because it seems today, over a hundred years later, we have lost sight of what ‘happiness’ is.
How many of us are truly happy?
What brings us happiness?
What makes us happy?
Money? Wealth? Success? Status? Materials?
For many of us, happiness is portrayed / exhibited through the material wealth we have, through the position in the workplace we hold, through the amount of holidays we take a year, through the latest celebrity endorsed make-up set adorning our appearance. It seems there is a ready-made blueprint towards acquiring happiness in modern-day Ireland. The college graduation, the two-up two-down semi-d, the continual career promotions, the saloon car(s), the cruises etc.
Of course, there is a monetary price to pay for these things. But many people will pay more for them than simply the commercial price. They’ll unwittingly sacrifice more.
Minimalism = Happiness ?!
Newly added to the Netflix portfolio you will find: ‘Minimalism: A Documentary’. The subject matter focuses upon people dedicated to rejecting the ‘American / consumer-driven’ ideals that bring perceived ‘happiness’ and show an alternative way of life, geared towards attaining true contentment, through having less material wealth.
The documentary follows the two main protagonists: Joshua Fields Millburn (JFM) and Ryan Nicodemus as they travel (not crusade!) across America, offering to tell those who will listen, about an alternative template for a ‘happier’ way of life. Their journey began, not upon the promotion of their newly composed book on ‘Minimalism: Everything That Remains’ but through the broken homes which they came from. These middle-class Americans both lost a parent’s love to substance abuse. Having witnessed first-hand the devastation of living with addiction, they grew up so determined NOT to end up, as their respective parent’s had. Unbeknownst to them, they had a gaping emptiness inside them. And so, they sought to fill this ‘gargantuan’ void with: ‘STUFF’.
They entered the ‘Corporate Rat Race’ with gusto, (selling smartphones to 5 years olds to gain promotions), attained six figure salaries and copious commodities along the way. And still they were miserable. There was a malady. A spiritual malady.
It was only when Joshua, first and then, Ryan – having noticed the remarkable change in Josh’s demeaner, as only a best friend can – discovered ‘Minimalism’ that things began to change positively for both. They began to remove the clutter of the past. They began to free themselves from the bondage of materialism.
The Minimalist message is simple. But it is also a paradox. The less you have, the more you gain.
You see, the costs for material driven society can be severe. Poignantly, JFM was so wrapped up in his career, he sacrificed the things that truly mattered in life. As his mother lay dying, his focus was upon decorating his new apartment with all that IKEA could provide, from sofas to rugs, bathmats to runners, curtains to a TV stand (without even the TV to accompany it).
Black Friday vs. Happiess
Looking at some of the ‘car crash videos’ from Black-Friday American style, it cannot be ignored that there is a warning for us all. Is there any difference between the ‘consuming’ folks in the videos referenced within this article, and the zombies from a George A. Romero’s movie? What are we becoming? It couldn’t happen here, in Ireland, could it? Well, we have the first part of the puzzle in place, don’t we? Black Friday has been introduced to our ‘Grafton Street’, almost subliminally. Suddenly, it was there! The spiritual side of Christmas is all but gone. Like elves, working for a Titanic Santa we are following the same path as our consumer-driven brethren from across The Pond. Thankfully, it can be argued that our levels of consumption have not quite reached ‘American Compulsory Consumption’ standards… yet.
Like everywhere, our consumerism is being fuelled by advertisements and marketing. It’s everywhere. Offline, online, everywhere! Even Je Suis Personality and Personal-a-Teas can be found within this ecosystem. But we consider ourselves outliers in this regard. The reason being: is that our focus is ‘people’. People are at the heart of our vision. We wish to reward both you, Dear Reader (with a degree of entertainment, self-discovery and a treat!) and our client café proprietors, alike. We want to brighten up your days, collectively – to give you a little positivity, a boost, an emotion! We believe in community, equality, opportunity and happiness.
How can we find happiess?
Minimalist’s advise us: to ‘take a step back’. Take a break. Take a break from continually hunting. Continually gathering. Continually acquiring. And when you find this new time, time for you, fill it with reflection, appreciation, usefulness, with thoughts of others – helping others – it’ll actually come naturally. It’s human nature, after all! It’s what makes us different. The change in mindset, will be remarkable. You will see, in fact, you lose nothing (nothing of worth!) and gain so much.
And the minimalist’s message is growing. People are listening. People are realising. Imagining a life with less. A life with less stuff. Less clutter. Less waste. Less debt. Less stress. Less discontentment.
Having accepted this new way of life, a life of less, the promise is a life of gain. ‘You will gain more time. More time for growth. More time for meaningful relationships. More time for contribution. More time for helping others. More peace of mind’.
You will be happier.
In conclusion: ‘Love People, Use Things – because the opposite never works’.