I mean, it seems so obvious (to me) sometimes just how much happier we might be if things were a little more simple. Less stuff, less food, less mess, less surface area, less shit to clean, less small talk, less distraction, and, most importantly, more attention focused on to what brings value to our lives.  Not subjective value–better cars or clothes, better beer or restaurants–but real value that creates a sense of warmth somewhere deep within.  Is it family? Is it exercise or yoga? Is it a companion? Is it freedom, curiosity, and imagination? Is it a new business idea? Is it a grand piece of abstract art? Is it a super computer held in the palm of your hand that instantaneously connects you to the world? Or is it all of these things?

What is that warmth somewhere deep within? Deep within where? The brain, the gut, the spine? The nervous system gives us a lot to work with–sensations from the entire map of the body, mixed with sound and visuals–but is that feeling visceral first, or is it part of our internal monologue creating a physical response. Just a thought–but  I feel as though thinking about the origin of these kinds of deep feelings of value would be great insight into what we might want as individuals.  Most of us don’t know what we want–stronger relationships, travel, simplicity, rewarding careers, academic success, relaxation, invention, hedonistic experiences, children, money. And most of us don’t know where to start.

As I listen to more speakers on TED.com and lecturers within a variety of departments, there is a general  trend observing that intrinsic self-value is residing in “belongingness.” The longest living people on earth have stable support networks. Huge successful companies work with tight knit teams. The moderately poor with big and loving families report unexpected ratings of complete and utter happiness. Fashion/nationalism/political affiliation functions on the fact that a certain style of dress/flag/party associate an individual with a larger group–all generating this apparently satisfying experience of “belonging.” Belonging to a network, a club, a team of researchers, a religious faith, a family, a business, a friend group.  And even greater than ‘belonging’ it seems to be, ‘connected,’ or communicative, or open and free, but needed.

So, what next? I say (to my future mes, and maybe you)–start over if you don’t have direction, start over if you are unhappy, and start over if you feel overwhelmed. Start small. Start with less. And start now. Coner Oberst said, “Everything, it must belong somewhere.” And he’s pretty much right about everything.

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