Do Things Bring Happiness?

I can’t tell you what made the truck burst into flames or if anyone was injured in the crash or the fire. All I know is that it created one hell of a traffic jam and that it extended my commute by an additional 45 minutes.

When you are stuck between exits and know that unless your car develops wings you are going to be there until the vehicles in front of you start moving you find ways to occupy your mind.

Sometimes that means listening to music, developing to-do lists in your head or just thinking about whatever crosses your mind.

An RV Or Jet Would Be Nice

After a solid ten minutes of not moving I looked at the Tesla on my left and the Winnebago on my right and started thinking about possessions and what I really need/want in my life.

It started with wondering what it would take to turn my my car into a version of a Harrier Jet, you know the kind of plane that can take off vertically because with something like that I wouldn’t care about the cars that were five feet front and back of me.

I could just take off, no runway needed.

But then I started wondering about the engineering requirements and whether the force of the jets would make my car rattle apart because after all, it is 15 years-old.

Don’t even get me started on whether it is aerodynamic enough to fly efficiently.

because taking my home wherever I went like a turtle might cut down on the commute.Click To Tweet

So I moved from that thought to wondering if I would want to live in a Winnebago because taking my home wherever I went like a turtle might cut down on the commute.

I have never lived in one so my thoughts here are theoretical, but I would imagine that one of the primary components of being happy living in a recreational vehicle is having one that you like spending time inside of.

Of course I have to also believe the location you park yours in might play a significant role in your happiness too, but when you are stuck in traffic you don’t necessarily pick apart all of the elements of happiness in an RV, you just brush against them or at least if you are me that is what happens.

Anyhoo, my thoughts about whether I would want that RV were shattered by the head shaking caused by the idiots i front of me who kept trying to pull closer to the burning truck so they could snap more photos.

I don’t know about you, but my epitaph isn’t going to read “died while trying to take a selfie with a burning truck.”

Cursing Cars

Traffic started moving before I had time to worry about whether the people in front of me were going to do something really stupid and I had to focus on coming back up to speed in a car that believes acceleration is optional.

Somewhere in between cursing the vehicle for being stubborn and wondering whether that would be the day I chose to buy a new car I started thinking about what sort of car I needed and what I really wanted.

It led me back to my apartment in Texas and memories about how little I had there and how happy I was.


I don’t need much to be happy.

I took the photos in that collage just before the movers came so you won’t get as clear a picture of how little or how much I really had in it.

Here is the manifest I created for myself before we packed the truck:

12 boxes
1 queen size bed,
one 40 inch TV,
1 folding table three chairs
two plastic containers
1 couch
3 suitcases

That doesn’t cover what I took in the car with me, laptop, small backpack with clothes and toiletries and a portable GPS.

Nor does it provide you with any indication of the size of the boxes so you don’t know how most were filled with books and the rest were a combination of kitchen stuff, odds and ends and assorted things.

I loved that place. It will forever be locked in memory as being somewhere I spent some of the happiest moments of my life.

Do Things Bring Happiness?

Perspective is a wonderful thing. If you were to compare the apartment I had twenty some years before that one in Texas you’d immediately notice the differences.

One looked like a recent college graduate had scraped together a couple of bucks and was just barely getting by and the other looked like it was lived in by some one who had enough money to buy real furniture.

I suppose I ought to mention that manifest doesn’t tell you about vacuum cleaner or entertainment center I gave away.

They were in good enough condition to travel but I got rid of them because I had duplicates waiting in LA and because I knew I had a ton of things waiting for me.

Things that don’t have memories attached to them are just stuff and I am not very attached to stuff.  Stuff is replaceable.

So the answer to the question of whether I need things to be happy is it depends.

And the older I get the more time I spend trying to rid myself of stuff because in my head stuff is often equated with clutter and who needs more of that.

A Final Thought…Maybe

Sometimes I wonder how my perspective would be influenced by money. That really starts to tear into want versus need so maybe we’ll save that for a different day.

So I’ll close with I need and want that flying car, if it is good enough for George Jetson it is good enough for me.

What do you think?

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  1. Joshua August 17, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Hey Danny,

    Glad you liked it, I have to admit that I am fond of it. It doesn’t happen often that I come up with a line that I truly like, but that one…

    Well it won’t make me rich or famous and that is probably a good thing or so I tell myself because I wonder what sort of trade offs they require. Or maybe they don’t require any.

    Who knows, it is like you said our priorities change over time. Now that my kids are a bit older and don’t require as much hands on guidance I can see a time not so far off where my time will be mine in a way it hasn’t been for years.

    It is surreal and in some ways I look forward to it because it will be nice to be able to focus on doing some things I can’t now but at the same time I am willing to wait.

    We get our children for such a short period of time, no reason to rush into that next phase.

  2. Danny Brown August 17, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Hey there Josh,

    First, I have to say this is one of my favourite lines from any post I’ve read in the last 12 months or so (seriously!):

    *I don’t know about you, but my epitaph isn’t going to read “died while trying to take a selfie with a burning truck.”*

    Perfection. 🙂

    It’s funny how our minds change with age, and the import we give certain things mellows, as other, more important things take their place.

    When I was single and living in the UK, my happiness was completed by the kick-ass, total man-cave home cinema set-up I had in my bachelor pad. This would have put many small movie theatres to shame!

    Then I fell in love, got married, and realized happiness was seeing my wife smile, and meet the goals and dreams she had. Then we had kids, and now my happiness is knowing my kids will have the support to be who and what they want to be, because their happiness far outstrips mine (although the two are obviously intertwined).

    More money would be nice – but would that truly bring more happiness with it? Maybe, maybe now – but it doesn’t matter if I never know. Because at this moment in time, happiness isn’t decided by financial numbers.

    Of course, once the kids move out for college, I may need some more money to reactivate that old man-cave sound system I had (wife permitting)… 😉

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