Experiences over things. Expanding perceptions
By Rachael Cadden
“Mojave” — Afro Celt Sound System
Happiness is not doing — or having — or stuff. It’s about being. It’s reflective. It’s fluid. It expands our perceptions.
I first realized I didn’t miss my “things” when I accepted a summer job in Alaska some years ago. I was “in between” jobs during the economic slump. I embraced it as an adventure. Traveling and working somewhere I had not been that also provided a 4 1/2 month contractual income.
I followed my summer work in Alaska with more travel for 3 months, trekking in Nepal and exploring Thailand and Indonesia. I was excited. I sublet my li’l beach adjacent studio in Venice, California and was on my way.
At the time, I was already downsizing and letting go of possessions little by little, including clothing and extra furniture that I didn’t value or need. I do like nice things and a comfortable environment, but I found I could live with far less over time. Particularly after I came back from working the summer and my travels to find I missed nothing. Those items didn’t define me and I was more happy and satisfied to be my most authentic self without things, schedules and agendas. My simplifying of things, time and stuff, and experiencing more began.
Climbers Memorial – Nepal – Everest Basecamp, Khumbu Valley & Kathmandu
More than ever our lives are consumed and filled with stuff including social media and never ending to do lists. There is nothing wrong with productivity, I love productivity, but it is often just “filler” — and brings about a selective numbness to our true happiness. It takes up space, deprives us of stillness and connection — connection with ourselves and others.
Busy-ness is static in our lives and it drowns out what our true selves long for. We experience others living sometimes scripted lives, through a little screen that robs of us experiencing our own life. It’s time to stop the glorification of busy, get off the roller coaster of extensive productivity and have experiences.
Experiences over things — expands our perceptions.
How do we do this? After all, I like roller coasters. They’re thrilling and fun. Roller coasters are an adrenaline rush and that feeling is explicating. Nothing wrong with exhilaration and fun. Every once in a while.
How do we have more experiences over things? The only way is through our choices. Choices of letting go of stuff — of schedules — of the news media. Let go of others expectations. Let go of people — and listen to that still small voice of your own true desires. One step at a time. As mentioned, it takes courage, personal authenticity, and a willingness to be vulnerable and imperfect. Even fail.
You don’t have to be in the best shape of your life. You don’t have to be financially secure. You don’t have to have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted. You just have to begin.
I am novice, at best, in my writing career. My grammar, my plurals and my tenses may at times be unpolished. At times I “feel” as though I have no idea what I am doing. But I am doing it. Rustic and uncomfortable as it may be. I have begun.
What I can truly say from experience is, nothing replaces the feeling of truly doing and being what and who you want to be. Be it travel, creating income out of your passion or even just living more simply. One thing I know for sure, it will never be all laid out perfectly, and you will never be perfect. You just have to step out in faith and as you move along, more steps will reveal themselves.
Remember the scene in Indian Jones where he was at the cliff and to get to the other side he had to trust that when he was told to stop that the “bridge stone” would appear. It’s like that. Embrace the scare. And be OK with being and experiencing imperfectly.
Moving towards your most authentic self is inspiring to others. It is also expansive for you. It expands our perceptions. Our view of the world. Our world changes. It expands. We become more connected to ourselves and to others if we do the same.
True connection is what we are wired for. Quieting the static in our lives and experiences will reconnect us. What is it you want to experience? What have you always wanted to do or where have you wanted to go? What would make you most happy and as Marie Kondo inspires, What would “spark joy” for you to experience it. Make a plan, take the steps necessary to execute, then go out and do it. It’s scary, but just start, even if you don’t know what it will look like entirely.
Have more experiences. And evolve into who you truly are. Surprise yourself!