I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between striving and gratitude. I have spent a lot of my life striving towards a few particular goals, and in some cases it has served me well. I have spent most evenings for the last two years working in order to build up my jewellery business to a point where I could go full time with it and as I sit here on a sunny Friday afternoon writing this blog from home, I fell that it was all worth it. However, I have also grown increasingly aware of the interconnection between striving and the belief that a particular achievement or success will bring happiness or fulfilment, the idea that if I get that job/girlfriend/house/gig/lifestyle I will be happy.
This is a tendency I have had throughout my life and although it can be a great driver in getting things done it can also lead to an overwhelming lack of fulfilment. As a child I always wanted to play music. I revolved my whole life around music, to the detriment of everything else: personal life, career, friendships etc. In my early twenties I actually managed to get to a point with it where I achieved relative success, we did a live session for BBC Radio 1, played Reading and Leeds festival, toured Europe, all things that when I was 15 would have seemed like the dream. However, when I got there I felt euphoric for a matter of days and then felt an almost instant dissatisfaction and my mind began focusing on the next big thing to achieve. In this sense I had a small glimpse of what famous people must feel, the idea to us that they could possibly not be happy with fame and wealth seems spoilt and unappreciative but it is so easy to see how that happens and how easy it is to become disconnected from what really brings happiness.
I am starting to now feel content in my day to day, finding joy in playing shows and connecting to the songs in that moment rather than concerning myself with where a successful gig might lead me on the music industry hierarchy. Enjoying building a little peace at home and a business that brings me a humble and happy life day to day rather than striving for a level of success that ultimately only brings stress.
I think often in our society we are told that you have to be the best and most successful version of yourself, but what if the happiest life is actually somewhere in the middle, somewhere where you can sit down each day and find gratitude for where you are. Striving relies to some extent on a dissatisfaction with where you are in life, a need for something more. Having said that at some points that might well be necessary, if you’re in an unhappy situation it often takes a lot of work and focus to get out of it, I definitely think that is positive. I guess what I’m saying is that in that process being careful not to get caught in a goal orientated view of life which only sees contentment coming from the realisation of a particular set of goals.
This isn’t a new idea either, the cynics were talking about the same stuff in Ancient Greece 2500 years ago, choosing a life of poverty, free from material belongings to achieve a freedom from desire. This also comes up a lot in many Eastern religions and philosophies, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the west has been the most dominant and powerful force in world politics as of late (the last few centuries) but also seems to have an epidemic of depression and misery,
Anyway these are just some rambling thoughts I’ve been having, many of which arose whilst reading Russell Brand’s new book ‘Recovery’ which is really good by the way. Whether you identify with the idea of addiction or not I think most people will recognise some of their own destructive behaviours in the descriptions. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter and just for the record this doesn’t make me an eternally positive guy either, gratitude doesn’t mean trying to dress up shitty scenarios or behaviours in happy multi-coloured suits but it does mean trying to recognise the many things we all have to be thankful for.
One thing I am very grateful for at the moment is the beautiful evenings we’ve been having on the farm, so here are some pictures.