Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.

~ Captain James Cook (1728-1778) ~

Can You Find Happiness Down the Road?

November 29th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 8 secs

Will a better house bring you happiness?

Watching a TV show called Escape To the Country, you can’t help but think about happiness. The program uses a familiar formula, where people looking to buy a home in the country come onto the show, get shown three or four for sale, and choose one (In the US, House Hunters is roughly the equivalent).

In this episode, a husband and wife had a around a million to spend on a very nice home in the British countryside. This meant the options presented made for a lavish affair and it was all very entertaining.

But there is another side to this kind of program: the guests themselves. Whilst we are all busily checking out the bathrooms, and wondering what we would choose were we in their shoes, it’s the people that make this show so fascinating. I am intrigued by the dynamics between couples, and the way they react to opportunities and disappointment.

Last night’s show revealed a couple totally focused on getting the most they could. Aside from the views, they cared little for the location and showed no interest in getting involved with the local community. It was all about the house, the land, and what they could get. Helping as best she could, the show host tried to put a cheery spin on proceedings. But the woman, leading the way, complained and criticised everything on offer, demanding more and never being satisfied.

I shouldn’t be too harsh. Choosing your home of national television is a pressured and hardly relaxing thing to do. But I kept thinking that she and her husband’s happiness were totally tied to getting the house of their dreams.

This of course is more or less the theme of the show. Find your dream house and happiness will surely be yours. But it’s a fairy tale illusion. Life won’t let any of us work it out that way.

Instead, our deepest happiness must be sorted out elsewhere. Not in some picture perfect street address, but in our heart. Perhaps that’s why gracious types who appear on such shows seem altogether happy in themselves, whether everything is flawless or not.

This leads me to think laterally. I keep thinking if we applied as much emphasis on helping others find a slice of happiness as we do seeking our own happiness, we might find better answers. The act of looking outside our desires offers spinoffs that benefit us all. By helping, we find our satisfaction levels rising, regardless of where we are and what we’ve got. Perhaps reaching out is part of the solution to so much desperate searching for happiness. A new home certainly is a nice thing. But it can never provide enough happiness on its own. Happiness is simply not out there but right here, in you and I.

So, as much fun as house finding shows are, we need to be clear. Happiness starts within us. Palatial manors, delightful cottages, grand mansions, or hip townhouses are just the performance stage. As life’s players, we are the ones who create the story.


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