Buying Happiness

Hot Pink Zebra Shopping Bag - $13.99

Hot Pink Zebra Shopping Bag - $13.99

I have a confession to make. Like so many “stupid Americans” I buy myself shit I don’t need to make myself feel good. If my sister says something to me in the morning before I go to work that hurts my feelings, or a conflicting conversation I had with a friend the other day is on my mind, I will be more tempted to stop in at Macy’s on my lunch break just to “see” if they got something new and cute in…

Any emotional help that a purchase of a new item will make will either be miniscule and temporary, or completely ineffective at all. It is a shear case of trying to treat the symptoms of a disease, without attempting to treat the disease itself. I think I have personally gained greater control over my spending habits, but I will admit to slipping once in awhile. The important part is that I am slipping because those shoes are sooooooooo frikkin cute, and not because I feel like buying the shoes will lighten my mood.

Girl's Night Out Earrings - $4.95

Girl's Night Out Earrings - $4.95

I grew up poor as a kid. And by poor I mean poor. I lived with my family of two other sisters and a brother with my parents in a tent. That’s right, we were permanently camping, but without the fun of roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories around a campfire. Eventually we were able to “upgrade” to a mobile trailer, but we were still a very large family to cram into the hallway of a house. We never had electricity or actual running water. One of my winter chores consisted of gathering snow into a bucket so we could melt it on the wood stove to take showers with. I tell you this because at the time, it seemed to be the repetitious argument that if only we had more money, we could be happier. Looking back as an adult, I see that the issues with my dysfunctional family were centered more around domestic violence and alcohol abuse rather than a lack of funds. However, the train of thought that I can be happier with more money still sticks to me psychologically at some level, I have no doubt.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold - $21.99 (new)

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold - $21.99 (new)

At least I can identify this irrationality and attempt to work with it. To a certain extent, that of which basic needs can be met, money does buy happiness indirectly. It’s hard to experience “happiness” when worrying about shelter, transportation, and getting enough healthy food to eat. Even beyond the basic levels, it’s nice to have money, especially disposable money, that can be used to buy gifts for others, spend on traveling and vacations, dine out, see live performances, etc. However, one can be happy without these extras, and not even necessarily less happy, if his or her focus is on relationships.

Despite the advertiser’s goal of making you feel like crap because you don’t own x, y, and z, it’s actually your relationships with self, family, friends, spouse, etc. that determine your level of happiness. Good health and good relationships (a component of good health) are the answer to being uplifted and living a life of quality. It really isn’t as complicated as marketers of products would wish you to believe.

Beaded Barrette - $19.95

Beaded Barrette - $19.95

As a seller of handmade goods, I have to look critically at how I am trying to sell my wares. My hope is that you will buy, for example, my latest hair barrette because you think it’s pretty and it will go oh, so well with that dress suit of yours. I do NOT, however, want you to buy it because you somehow feel that getting something new for yourself will make up for the disappointment you feel at not losing that 5 pounds you had been trying for. Or because you got in a tiff with your boyfriend the other day. Or because you are simply feeling under the weather and can’t explain why.

A huge way to save money, or at spend your money on different things, is to evaluate WHY you are buying something. Are you treating what is actually wrong, or just the symptoms of that wrongness? For example, when I feel like I have been working hard and not getting any appreciation for it from my spouse, I may be tempted to purchase a new dress as a way to “award” myself for my hard work, and make up for the “lack of appreciation” I am getting at home. What I really need to do in this situation is treat what is really wrong (the relationship problem), and not the symptom (the feeling of remorse). Instead of buying that dress to try to make myself feel better, I will make myself feel a hell of a lot better if I simply speak to my husband about how I feel. By confronting the real issue head on, I can work on, and eliminate, it’s symptoms altogether. A happier result will arrive that could not have simply been achieved by making a purchase.

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2 thoughts on “Buying Happiness

  1. Juliet Robley September 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm Reply

    “There is no limit to the power of loving.” ~ John Morton

  2. […] Buying Happiness Coping with the American desire to purchase our way to a better emotional state. […]

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