As parents, how many times have we heard: “I want the new iPod . . .I want the new iTouch . . . I want the new Wii . . .I want the new Xbox . . .?” Our children are told by the all-powerful television and the all-knowing internet, about the games, devices, toys and new shows that they absolutely must buy or watch in order to make their lives complete. First, I must confess that I am a huge fan of technology and all things Apple. Let me also tell you that no one has a more effective marketing strategy than that elegantly simple, plain white silhouette of a fruit. Yet, there is something inherently disturbing about their underlying message or at least what most of us take away from their marketing strategy. Can we survive, can we be our very best, can we be happy and complete without the latest and greatest new version of the iWhatever?
Let’s also be honest here, the proverbial apple doesn’t fall from the tree. It is not just our children who want more, need more and are looking for what will make them truly happy, fulfilled or complete. As adults, we are continually looking for the next big thing. What will make us truly happy?
Ah . . .but this is the crux of the problem (and the brilliance of Apple). We will never find it (happiness, contentment, fulfillment) where they want us to look. We will continually need to keep looking, keep buying. Perhaps the marketing team at Apple studied ancient Eastern philosophy? The human quest for fulfillment has become something like a dog chasing his own tail, always running after that one thing he wants so badly, only to find that the elusive prize is not quite within his reach.
When we look outside ourselves for happiness, we will only identify what we lack. When we look at what others have, we evaluate ourselves in their light and identify what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. Deborah Adele said it beautifully in her description of our quest for Contentment:
When we expect the world to meet our needs, we turn outside of ourselves to find sustenance and completion. We expect our partners to fulfill us, our jobs to meet our needs and success to solve our problems. And when it doesn’t, we continue to play the “if only” game, looking for that one more thing. Or we play the “planning” game or the “regretting” game. We let our contentment be managed by all of these uncontrollable variables. As long as we think satisfaction comes from an external source, we can never be content. Looking outside for contentment will always disappoint us and keep contentment one step out of reach. The Yamas and the Niyamas.
So, don’t look to others to make you happy. Don’t depend upon material things to meet your needs. That new car, new house, new clothes, new iPhone, will not be the ultimate source of your happiness or the cure-all for whatever it is that you are lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun to buy things, but try to remember all that you already have. Everything you need to be happy and complete you already have inside of you. You just have to reach deep enough and sit quietly enough to find it.
Maybe instead of the iWant Generation, we can teach this lesson to ourselves and to our children, and become the iHave Generation!