How I Stopped Searching For Happiness
I’ve been living in a 63 square metre apartment for eight years in Sydney Western suburb. Now it is finally up for sale. But why am I selling my place now if everything is okay? Letting go of the eight-year memories has never been so easy.
Sarah Lindberg, writing for the Healthline website, in her article “How to let go of things from the past”, argues that to let go of the past, you need to make a conscious decision. So you can take control of the situation.
Hence, I decided to sell the apartment and live less in a tiny flat with 32 square metres. But letting go of the past, for some people, can also mean stepping into the future uncertainty. Is this the right decision? How about if this is all going to be a mistake? But you will always learn from a mistake. We all learn and grow from our mistakes.
So most people keep searching for happiness. But I realised that searching for happiness will never end with happiness. What is happiness, anyway?
For a long time, I didn’t know whether I was happy or unhappy. Not because I didn’t have enough money or a well-paid job. Neither owning property and living in a prosperous Australia that I was content with happiness.
It was because I couldn’t find the exact answer to what happiness was. I wasn’t unhappy either. But one thing for sure that I always felt discontent in my life. Everything I had never done up to my standard. Hence, aiming for perfection will always end up with failure. So I always felt incomplete and discontent.
But when I travelled solo to Kyoto, Japan, in May 2019, I stumbled upon the ancient wisdom. It says
Do not let troubles catch in your mind, nor future fears. Live in this moment, this place in pure mind without regret, and each day will be a good life — Honourable Dai Min.
Though the founder of Nanzen-Ji temple in Kyoto, Japan, penned his words in the twelfth or thirteenth century, it is still relevant to our modern lives today.
‘Live in this moment’ was playing repetitively in my head. It was stuck firmly in my head until I was back home in Sydney.
I began to list what I had done in the past that prevented me from living in the moment. Then from the list of past wrongdoing, I listed what I wanted in life.
The first point on the top of the list is my life is the accumulation of past times. I had stacks of trinkets in my apartment and basement storage. They didn’t serve any purpose other than sentimental attachments.
I thought accumulating my life with purchases of knick-knack would make my life complete — at least it would give me a sense of completeness. The truth was it didn’t. It never did. So here it is: I found out that the more materialistic attachment you’ve got, the more barrier you built to live in the moment.
The one that comes second is social media. Social media only creates unnecessary noise and distraction that prevents me from living in the moment. The truth is social media is constantly bombarding you with endless product marketing.
You can always recall, for the past five years, how many new social media emerge? Though they offer different forms for different demography, social media is nothing but a digital marketing engine. An engine needs fuel to run the entire mechanism. The power is you; your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, friends, kids, cats, and dogs. It is everyone.
Digital marketing is a data thirsty engine. The more it feeds, the better the machine performs. Social media is noisy and full of distraction. So I deleted my social media accounts.
Number three that comes on the list is my social life and friendship were toxic. My four-year relationship was meaningless. Though I loved my best friend SA and loved my ex-partner SP dearly, our relationship was unhealthy and pointless. We filled it up with parties and drugs. He worked full-time, and I worked part-time.
Our money flew away instantly on alcohol, oxford street parties, cocaine, Ecstacy, MDA, LSD, Meth. We accumulated our lives with toxicity. We were happy, but our happiness was fleeting and discontent. They had affected my health.
I knew something had got to change, but I didn’t know how and what. So I cut off my toxic social life and friendship. I started vegetarianism, and the result was outstanding. Then veganism was soon on the way. I have more energy than before.
But what I want in life? So I wrote down many things I wanted in life. The more I added to the list, they all lead to one thing: I want to live in the moment. I don’t want any burden of past on my shoulder. I don’t want any troubles to catch my mind. I don’t want any fear to face the future.
It is living in the moment that leads me to true happiness. At the time, I didn’t know the term ‘minimalism’ and ‘minimalist’ lifestyle option.
Then I searched for a minimalist lifestyle. But those minimalism pioneers are younger than me. Most of them are white males, and they had been in the phase of success in their career.
In my case, I haven’t got the privilege of top paid job and education at all. Neither I’ve ever had an eight-figure income, nor I’ve had a big house. I didn’t convert into Minimalism because of the abundant resources from my top paid job.
I don’t have the whiteness privilege of a straight male either. Soon I realised that Minimalism isn’t for young white generations who left their top paid jobs and big houses.
Minimalism is for everyone longing to live happily without any burden of the past. Minimalism is about embracing the minimality of space, living in the moment. Minimalists will live less with the things that serve maximal functions and the things that matter to them.