In praise of….nothing.

I think now, more than ever before people feel a tremendous pressure to do and be as many things as possible. Pressure is everywhere and it is not just about surviving this crazy life. Most of us being lucky have all the essentials we need – food, water, a roof over our heads and good health. There is another kind of subtle pressure that eats away at the core of us. You need to do better, be better, act better and have more. There is ravenous wolf chasing us away from what matters most.

Nothing is ever good enough. What if people realised that they can be content with themselves without needing to have more? Standing still of course is not a good thing either. I think it is important to learn, grow and experience what this amazing life has to offer. The other feeling I mention is something that makes us feel empty in a negative way.

I know this feeling. I don’t know why I feel it sometimes myself, but I do. I think we all do from time to time if I’m honest. Sometimes I feel literally swamped in my mind by ‘stuff’. Must buy this, must have that. It tries to suck you in and I’m tired of it. Even just browsing in shops, there are images of so-called ‘ideals’ everywhere – a poster or a billboard of a sexy, perfect woman or man with no physical flaws visible selling us perfume, watches or fast cars – ‘buy this, and you’ll be complete…it’ll make a difference to your life if you buy it.’ Yey capitalism. Make a profit, make a profit at all costs…

There is nothing wrong with having possessions of course. As long as you don’t define yourself by what you have. The images of aspirations society throws at us versus all our feelings of inadequacy. Images are all they are. Perhaps nothing is ever good enough because the concept of nothing is quite scary. Having nothing, being nothing, doing nothing. We fight to hold onto our possessions and the desire to have more and more at all costs. But within nothing, there is something extremely valuable at its core. Freedom to be yourself.

If we are conforming to ideals of how to look and act, we are not being honest with who we really are. As soon as someone you know has something bigger, better and more expensive, you will begin to compare yourself with that person and somehow, you will start beating yourself up again for not being good enough, for not having enough.

Call me crazy but I don’t think that’s a healthy or a fun way to live.

Some of the happiest people in the world have nothing (or very little). Because they have so little, they appreciate everything they have. My husband visited the Gambia a few years ago and he saw very severe poverty and sickness. The one thing he did notice was how many people were smiling and welcoming despite dire circumstances. They had so little – not even three meals a day and they were not complaining. They were happy and content with what they had. What a lesson this is to us all.

The things we take for granted are in fact, the best things in life. Not the ideals in life. We all know it but we forget it so easily. What’s amazing? Having the courage to be yourself. True happiness is simply remembering who you really are.

© Christina McDonald 2014

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