Abundance | Why We Suck at Being Happy

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I feel like this is big to why we get so belabored with the daily grind - why we so easily live the every day life under a canopy of fatigue rather than joy. Being abroad and alone the past summer triggered it: the realization of not just how much I have but how much surrounds me. Not to say that I was never aware, but this was when the implications hit me with the force of a bullet. 

I had never felt so utterly helpless, lonely, unequipped, out of place, and scared. I mean I love my personal time, but juggling unfamiliar surroundings and culture and work combined with alll the feels...not easy. Yet I’ve also never experienced such jubilance, awe, wonder, affirmation, strength, encouragement, and spirit.

But where did that go? Why is is so much harder just to feel on deeper levels being back in school in America versus during my time working in China?

Over the summer, I was desperate and lacking - physically, mentally, and spiritually (the physical aspect was real - definitely desperately lacking regular digestive cycles, oh man). Daily experiencing the trifecta of thirst led me realize truly how much faith I had put in myself and the life I built up. But the fact of the matter is that
You can’t truly experience living whilst spending your whole life on one end of the social strata.
Classes have just started and I'm already as;ldfkjsdf. It's funny - I drafted this post before the school year even began and one of my thoughts was: "I can’t complain about school, America, Georgetown's housing system (lol) anymore. Having free speech (Google never felt so good), grounded community, a relatively high degree of knowledge and control...wow. Wow."

Having so much around us is not the problem, but the complacency that creeps up on us is. Everything is in abundance; everything is the newest edition, constantly updated. So much is free and instantly accessible. Furthermore, we’re oh so capable and competent. No one stops for you, and you don’t stop for anyone.

As harsh as it sounds, I realized that no matter how knowing or humble or socially conscious I thought I was, no matter how many social justice projects I committed to - comparatively speaking, I don't know jack about what it actually feels like to be lacking for an extended time period, much less to not have access to what I was used to.

We’re so bad at being happy because we don’t know what it means to be lacking. We don’t know how it feels to be completely helpless in multiple aspects of life at once. True need leads to true freedom - put otherwise, you can only enjoy freedom if you realize how much you actually rely on it for sustenance.

Growing up in America makes it easy to forget we live in an increasingly interdependent world. People are still people wherever you go; we’re all constantly striving for that something. Day after day I forget that hungry people affect us; their situation implicates us. Whenever I speak to a homeless brother on the streets, the conversation usually extends far deeper than any passing exchange I would have with a friend on the streets of campus: “You are born. Then you learn to live. Once you learn to live, you learn to love. Once you learn to love, you learn to love life. Once you learn to love life, you learn to love all things and find inner peace.” (Kenny, the man who sits across from CVS on M St. Go talk to him!!)

It's so much simpler once you take out academics and extracurriculars and work and all the "important" obligations we fill our lives with. Even the intangibles - relationships, image & status, abilities - they're all aspects we take so much pride in. And yet those are the very things that fill us also with weariness and complacency and apathy. And out of these emotional states, you don't see the latter two as much in those without a home or without food because those are often the consequence of privilege. With our basic needs (and more) satisfied, we forget what a joy it is to be alive. Hardly fringe benefits, no?

Life is a lot. Literally, there is so much around us. If only we could open our eyes to the bounty of God's grace that floods our existence - if we realize there's something greater already keeping us afloat in the ocean of life and then concentrate on swimming and supporting others...then that would be a different story.

That would be a renewed daily being, utilizing abundance to fulfill what's lacking. That would be a spiritually trying yet completely freeing life.

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