Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Interview with Andrew Schwab

This is a little different.

My friend Andrew writes a blog for men on Patheos called "The Tin Soldiers." He also has written a book under that title. 

He interviewed me for his blog and the results can be found HERE.

I hope you enjoy our words,


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Little Bit More

The quest for relative happiness never leads to truth.

We know this, right? Even Hollywood tells us, movie script after movie script, that money and the accumulation of stuff cannot bring us happiness. Every rom-com tells us that love is all you need. Even the Beatles told us that. But we didn't listen.

Many of us live our lives looking toward some brighter day, when we finally get that job, or that salary, that car, house, wife, or family. That one thing we want that will finally make us happy. And what happens when you get it? Ask a millionaire. All of the honest ones will tell you there is no happiness to be found in money, that a bigger sum just means a bigger burden, more stress, more anxiety. Like the great Biggie Smalls once said, "Mo' money, mo' problems."

We know this. We've heard it a million times. The quest for material things ends in sadness... So why do we still look at so-and-so's job, car, house, body, style, life and crave it like it's the antidote?

The quest for relative happiness never leads to truth. Key word is "relative." It means, "in relation to." In relation to this person, I'm happy, or not happy, or good, or not as good. It's comparative, but even more (and worse) it's competitive. 

Oil baron John D. Rockefeller was once asked by a reporter how much money is enough, "Just a little bit more," he replied.

Point being, there is never enough.

So you've quested for relative happiness. You've finally made a million. You're in the 1%, which means you're comparatively richer that 99% of Americans. Here is when you cash in, right? You live on the interest, right? You go do full-time charity work and live a meaningful life, right?

Wrong. Your quest for relative happiness has trained and defined you. You are now innately competitive. You cannot settle with "enough" because compared to so-and-so, you don't stack up. You tell yourself, "Just one more deal, just a few more years, just when my savings hits this number."

Just a little bit more...

We know this, right? How many movies and songs and books have been written about how money can't buy us happiness? How much have we learned about how the accumulation of stuff has the opposite desired effect?

Yet we still clamor and scrape and justify our motives. It's all a bunch of silliness.

We know this, but we look forward to that next thing that will bring us happiness. That fantasy that will fulfill us.

The problem with fantasies is that they change your perspective on reality. You can't be happy with the tangible present because the expectations in your head are unrealistic. Now you're perpetually sad. Life is disappointing. It didn't turn out like the fantasy. That next big thing didn't bring happiness. How depressing. Keeping up with the Jones' did not bring happiness. The quest for relative happiness did not get us closer to meaning or truth or peace. And we act surprised, but we shouldn't.

Because we knew this, right?

The thing is, if you actually know this, like if you actually take it to heart, you're already richer than a million millionaires. You have the thing they desperately want. The thing they're all clamoring for.

Taking it to heart means living in the present. It means giving yourself to the people you love and loving the people you don't. It means putting others above yourself. It means doing generous work. It means being generous with your time. It means not competing for more stuff, and not being concerned with the comparative material wealth of your neighbor.

This is how Jesus said to live. He said things like, "Love your neighbor," and "Turn the other cheek," and "Go the extra mile," and "Blessed are the poor," and "Love your enemy." 

He turned the world on it's head with that kind of talk, but you know what? It's a better way to live. It actually creates deep and real contentment, and that's a good enough reason for me to try to follow it.