“It may sound childish,” I said to my Grandmother, “but I love this colander so much that my heart fills with joy every time I use it.” “That’s not childish,” she replied, “it’s the route to real happiness in life.”
It must have been more than thirty years since we had that conversation and my dear Granny is no longer here. But her words still remind me of the route to real happiness every time I rinse vegetables, in any old colander. What she meant, of course, is that if you can appreciate the little things you will never be short of reasons to be happy.
I won’t start attacking consumerism, for all it’s an easy target. I think the problem with modern society is much bigger than just buying things for instant gratification. Consumerism is only the tip of the iceberg. Another issue is that we are forever encouraged to want more. More of everything – wealth, health and achievements. Proving to ourselves and the world that we are a bit better. Better than what? Ourselves last year, our friends, our parents?
Improvement isn’t bad as long as it doesn’t become a burden. Take a step back, take a deep breath and look at your colander. Or whatever little thing around you that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be an artefact, it could be your family, your job or a talent you have. Maybe those little things are more valuable than finishing the Iron Man Triathlon?
Happiness is so much more than the passing adrenaline kick of completing a challenge. I find that real happiness in life is a constant state of contentment, nothing you can chase or catch. And of course you can’t buy it, but that has already been established by many a great philosopher.
To me, happiness isn’t about brief moments of excitement, but about being present here and now. To consider the joy a colander can give, even if it is childish.