Happiness. Everyone is constantly searching for it, no one can ever seem to pinpoint it and we all think we have to find a way to earn it.
But, according to many of the greatest philosophers and creative thinkers of human history, happiness requires almost nothing. You cannot buy it or sell it. It doesn’t come with intelligence, or beauty, or fame. Don’t believe me? Just read on to hear what Steve Jobs, Cary Grant, Jim Carrey and Bob Marley all had to say about “the answers” in life.
Here are 10 quotes from some pretty famous names that express the same point in many different ways, and in lots of different contexts – from business success to artistic exploration, and everywhere in between.
- You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple of years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got the sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you. Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Fight Club is a great book. Chuck Palahniuk’s debut novel packs a punch not found in many other books. (If you loved it, check out Fight Club 2) Disturbing at times, hilarious at others, it also hits on some important aspects of human nature. The acquisition of money and possessions are often at the center of our commercialized society. But, do they really matter?
Are our lives fuller if we have more stuff? Do we enjoy our days more on an expensive couch? The answer is no. The things that matter most in life cannot be bought, of course. But, we keep striving for more and more. When you realize that no one takes any of this stuff with them to the grave, and you cannot create a full life by filling with things, you will be one step closer to your best life.
- Making the simple complicated is commonplace. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity. – Charles Mingus
Jazz musician Charles Mingus always told it like it was. Anyone can take something easy and make it harder. It’s easier than you think to overdo something and ruin it. Anyone who has ever tried out painting, or drawing, or any other visual art can tell you that. Writing is the same way. The cutting of words is always the best way to create an amazing piece.
Minimalize everything – clean out your junk. Get your mind uncluttered. Slow down and think. The less you TRY to create a great life, or a great piece of art, the easier it will come to you. Promise.
- There are always flowers for those who want to see them. – Matisse
Matisse was a visual artist who was always looking for beauty so that he could recreate it and share it. With that eye, he saw the world through a filter that made life more beautiful, and much more enjoyable. The truth is, there will be good days and there will be bad days. There will always be moments in our lives when we feel like our whole world is barren and ugly. Our brains are like deserts with nothing to offer and a lack of proper nutrition to grow amazing thoughts.
Your thoughts, believe it or not, are your life. You have no other power in the world as great as you do over how you think, feel and react. If you find yourself in a dark place, seek the light. Look for the good. Find the small and beautiful things that make life worth living. Enjoy the little things.
- The greatest wealth is to live content with little. – Plato
This quote from what of the greatest minds in history just about sums it up. If you can find joy with nothing, then joy will not escape you. If you depend on material items, or wealth, for your happiness, you will only be content when you have money. Money comes and goes and life can be tough. But, a person who can ride those waves with grace will enjoy their life fully.
There’s nothing wrong with having money, of course. If you view money as a tool for happiness, you will never find happiness. If you see money for what it really is – a convenience – then you will not become attached to material items that must be purchased. You will simply enjoy using the tool of money, without allowing it to rule your life.
- That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. – Steve Jobs
If you want to be the best at your business, your game or… life, for that matter… then follow the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). It worked for Jobs because the most complicated concepts in the world (robotics, computer code, advanced technology, etc.) have to be taken apart and then put back together in order to become something amazing.
Focusing on the small things is never a bad idea. Sure, the big picture is important. But, 9 times out of 10, you’ll benefit from breaking something down into smaller bits, not creating an even larger problem. Right?
- “I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of – so they will know that it is not the answer.” – Jim Carrey
We are all guilty of it. It is human nature to think that money will fix everything. After all, money makes the world go ‘round. But, does it make us happy? That’s a whole other conversation.
The truth is, that anyone who is rich and famous can tell you that money and accolades won’t make an unhappy person happy. They will just make an unhappy person rich. The best lives are the lives that are lived to the fullest with passion and joy – about even the smallest things.
- My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best as I can. – Cary Grant
Is there some big grand plan for your life? Are you on a track for a career, money and fame? Are you making strides toward all of your goals? Cool. But, the truth is, we are all just human. So, we do the best that we can.
Break down your day. What do you do? You likely sleep and eat and do all of the things that all normal humans do. And, then you work at some tasks or duties that keep you busy. If you can see the beauty in that simplicity, your life will be all the better and easier.
- Life is really simple. But, we insist on making it complicated – Confucius
Humans want so badly to have answers to everything. We want to know what is happening, when, where and why. We want to be prepared for what is coming. And, we are terrified of what might occur should we not have a plan.
But, life is simple. You eat, sleep, and keep busy… just like Cary Grant said. You also should hope to find love, experience a few things and eat some tasty food. But, beyond that, you’re overcomplicating what could be a very magical experience for you. Life is short. Enjoy your dinner, watch the birds, sleep in…
- I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Thoreau
The simpler your life, the easier it is for you to prioritize what you want and don’t want and what matters as opposed to what does not. You may feel like you need your big house or your fancy car but you don’t. And, cutting down to the bare minimum (even just for a period of time) is a worthwhile exercise.
Thoreau expressed his desire to truly understand what is essential, and what is not. This is a fundamental piece of understanding that will serve anyone.
- Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you are riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live! – Bob Marley
The ups and downs are the parts of life that we often want to speed through. But, the ruts and the valleys are where we figure out what exactly we need and what exactly we are made of.
Anyone who has ever been broke can tell you that making do is an art all on its own. And, it is worthwhile to keep moving and do the best you can even when you have very little, or are not particularly joyful.
So, there you have it, ten times that ten smart and talented people reminded us all that money, fame, material goods and beauty will not buy us into our best life. The best life is the one that we are grateful for every day, even when it rains, or the car won’t start. We are grateful because we have learned to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures like raindrops on our skin or having the opportunity to learn how to jump a car battery.