To meet the housing shortage in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently suggested building thousands of compact (250-300 square feet) apartments. This proposition may lead people to ponder, “Could I be happy living in such a small space?” or perhaps, “How could anyone be happy living in such tight quarters in today’s world?” After all, where would everything fit?
At present, while many boomers are downsizing and dreading the loss of space in which to keep treasured collectibles, other segments of society are anxiously trying to upgrade their lifestyle. With retail ads blitzing us from all sides, we might wonder how much “stuff” is required for proof of success and a satisfying life. Can we ever possess enough?
These are timely questions given the debate regarding the “haves” and “have-nots.” If the United States is based, in part, on the premise that “all men are created equal,” where are equality and self-worth for those stuck in the have-not group? How can we measure the quality of our lives when there is always someone with more money and possessions? The answers to these questions may require a change in perspective as to what constitutes a life of happiness and contentment.
The award-winning 2012 documentary “I Am,” by director Tom Shadyac, provides insight into this issue. After a life-threatening experience, he gave up his affluent lifestyle for a much simpler, austere life. He went from a mansion to a manufactured home. In his quest to discover the source of true enlightenment and fulfillment, lasting happiness, and healing for society, he discovered that the source of happiness is not in material wealth and possessions.
The Bible addresses the importance of establishing priorities: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). The Bible advises: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (I Timothy 6:6, 7).
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science Church, states, “Happy are the people whose God is All-in-All, who ask only to be judged according to their works, who live to love” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 127). And in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she offers this look at riches: “The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good. Love giveth to the least spiritual idea might, immortality, and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud. All the varied expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality – infinite Life, Truth, and Love” (p. 518).
Clearly, those riches are not dependent upon the size of one’s home or the opulence of its contents, and are not reserved for only the gifted or lucky few. Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Many would be thrilled to have a clean, safe apartment of any size in a crowded city, and rightfully so. But a life of fulfillment includes the knowledge that as children of God we are all loved equally and forever, and that by sharing God’s love, the blessings grow. It is comforting to know that wherever we go, we carry our spiritual riches in our hearts and possess the infinite power to bless.