Has Your Pursuit of the Material Been at the Expense of Happiness?

It’s hard to imagine being happy with less ‘stuff’. But that’s exactly what Kevin McCloud so elegantly demonstrates in his very entertaining DVD ‘Slumming It’.

Happy in a Slum?

The people of Dharavi are happy. What does this mean for those of us who don’t live in slums and yet still struggle to find happiness? Does the beautiful home you’re striving for in suburbia bring you more happiness than those living in a slum?

“I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”

            John Lennon

Why Watching ‘Slumming It’ Will Help You Be Happy

For us in watching this DVD we’re without the sense of smell, but Kevin McCloud so very cleverly sticks our nose into everything else. ‘Slumming It’ gives you in-the-face perspective; it reminds you of what really matters in life. You’ll get an immediate lift and most likely see your life with new eyes.

Several people I’ve spoken to have said it was one of the best shows they’ve ever seen.

We were about to re-paint our bathroom when we watched ‘Slumming It’ and afterward my husband said, ‘Well, that’s it… we no longer need to paint the bathroom’. And that’s exactly it, although we still painted, we lost the urgency and got the message loud and clear yet again that this type of thing really doesn’t matter.

‘Slumming It’ shows you what does matter. And it’s not a glossy bathroom.

Why is the Slum Dharavi So Unique?

Kevin McCloud takes the cameraman (sometimes too easy to forget there’s a talented cameraman alongside him!) into all avenues of Dharavi, a slum that sits on only one square mile (1.3 kms) of valuable land in Mumbai.

Incredibly, 1 million people live there.

Often it’s 20 people to a tiny 4-roomed house; beds are made up each night in living spaces. Imagine sleeping in your kitchen tonight with 5 others. My quick calculation means that’s about 200 people living with you on your average house block (surrounded by a million others).

Along with that there’s no sanitation or running water; I do agree these are serious issues which cause illness in Dharavi. There are a astonishing 500 people to 1 toilet. Each toilet juts out over a river which serves as the plumbing.

Why Are the People of Dharavi Happy?

The good news. In Dharavi along with happiness there’s no crime. Repeat: No Crime. 85% of the people are employed. Dharavi has a thriving community. As Kevin McCloud says, there is no danger of an elderly person dying alone in their apartment and being found 3 months later. In Sydney last year shockingly an elderly woman was found 8 years later. In Dharavi, the elderly are included in everyday life; everyone is useful. They work together as a team and support each other.

One of my observations was that when women have babies, they have support 24×7 from umpteen experienced women. The village we’ve lost. I’ll bet their level of post-natal depression is negligible and the women probably don’t even use the term.

Why Do We Want More Stuff?

If we really dig down, the reason we want stuff is to appear successful to others. As if appearing successful makes us happy. It doesn’t. Deep down however, we think it does. We believe if we have enough stuff (to show off) we’ll eventually score happiness. Wrong again. There’s no happy ending to collecting stuff.

Consider this: if you were the only person on Earth and already had what you needed, would you want more possessions?

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

Henry David Thoreau

And What… NO Spoilt Brats?

The children of Dharavi are happy, teenagers don’t have a desperate need for privacy, they’re not grumpy, they’re relaxed and interact freely with adults, the kids have no useless gadgets to entertain and rob them of patience and creativity (my kids no longer have those gadgets and they’re happy again. Phew. A story in itself.)

If you’re interested in finding happiness, discuss Dharavi next time you’re with friends. If you’re out walking or sitting quietly, I suggest contemplating the strong points of such a life. You’ll be amazed at your realizations.

Transform your life: lose your obsession with possessions.

2 Tips to Satisfy & Give You a Happy Life

I realize your life is likely different to that of Dharavi, that you probably already have what you need. If so, move on from possessions and get long-lasting happiness by doing these two things: Continue reading “Has Your Pursuit of the Material Been at the Expense of Happiness?”