Literally…my cups runneth over. In Psalm 23:5, King David feels incredibly blessed by God (given more than his needs required both physically and spiritually), saying “my cup runneth over”. I’m not much for organized religion, but I do consider myself a spiritual person (in saying that, I’m aware that my definition of spirituality is just that, my own). Whoever you are and whatever you believe – it’s likely that you’re familiar with the feeling of being blessed as well as the feeling of being depleted.
Oftentimes, when we feel depleted it’s more of a feeling than an actual state of being. To quote Leon Trotsky, “Everything is relative in this world”. Our beliefs/feelings can be somewhat irrational at times and are, as Trotsky said – relative to our background, our culture, our environment, and well…everything around us. Furthermore, fluctuations in these very relative beliefs/feelings can (and often do) occur with changes in our mood, our diet, our activity, new experiences, the time of day, the time of month, the phase of the moon, the tides, etc. Given the lack of true objectivity when it comes to things like feelings – perhaps it’s best to err on the side of thankfulness.
Living in a first world country surrounded by all the glitz and glamor that modern consumerism offers – it’s easy to feel deprived when you don’t have the latest generation of iPhone, have to drive a late-model car, or can’t afford a fancy dinner or vacation to Fiji. This, while people in other areas of the world feel incredibly blessed when the drinking water they have to walk miles to reach isn’t full of deadly parasites. Clean water to drink, food to eat, shelter to sleep – we must remind ourselves that these are the true essentials.
I’ve been reading an incredible book by Francine Jay entitled The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide – talk about a healthy shift in perspective. In chapter 9 (the joy of enough), she speaks to feelings of happiness based on relativity:
The fact of the matter is, once we’ve covered our basic needs, our happiness has very little to do with the amount if stuff we own. Beyond this point, the marginal utility (or satisfaction) derived from consuming additional goods diminishes rapidly; and, at what economists call the “satiation point”, it actually turns negative. That’s why “more” often fails to satisfy us – and in some cases, can even make us less happy. Consumer one-upmanship, therefore, is a shell game; the only winners are the companies selling the goods. We’d actually be happier, more relaxed, and more satisfied people if we disengaged from it entirely.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is far more conducive to a minimalist lifestyle. If we recognize the abundance in our lives, and appreciate what we have, we will not want for more. We simply need to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. If we’re going to make comparisons, we have to look globally, as well as locally; we have to look down the ladder, as well as up. Even the poorest First World Families are rich by Third World standards. So while we may feel deprived relative to the more affluent in our own country, we’re living like royalty compared to many others around the world.
Royalty – think about that. Most of us are blessed beyond measure, regardless of how we feel from day to day. Minimalism is a growing movement in this country (and that says something) – one that I’m lucky enough to be a part of. It’s prompted me to zoom focus on the things that are truly important in this life. I’ll give you a hint – those truly important things are not in the stuff we already have, or other people’s stuff we wish we had, or the expensive and exotic stuff we can’t afford.
Don’t spend your life wanting for something more when what you need is oftentimes within reach and completely free. Love, family, friends, inward and outward exploration of the beautiful earth we were born on. Your happiness is not contingent on things that cost money. Happiness is something that can be cultivated independent of outward circumstance.
I am blessed, and my cup(s) runneth over – they’re overflowin’, yo!
When it came to our literal cups (as in the ones in our cupboards and cabinets), they were overflowing as well. A mis-matched mess of partial sets (survival of the fittest glass wear), souvenirs, and funky mugs. If all of them were clean at the same time, there wasn’t room for the last two…so they stayed on the counter. There are only two of us (humans) living here, so you’d think our cups/mugs/glasses would have in someway reflect that – not at all. Well, I’m happy to report that our cup count is now down to a more respectable number, and we still have enough for our beloved guests!
“My Cup” – Bob Marley