We Americans like a bunch of “stuff.” The bigger the house, the better the deal. If you love a pair of shoes or handbag but your budget doesn’t, whip out the AmEx and worry about it later. And if the car you must have means an outrageous monthly payment, well you’ll just have to make a way – hopefully without adjusting your standard of living.
Any of this sound familiar? Society teaches us that having a lot of material things will make us happy. Why else would the average American be over $14,000 in debt and need 3 or more credit cards? But the recent economic climate has begun to teach consumers that happiness doesn’t come from upgrading your tech toys every six months or restocking your wardrobe every season.
You and your happiness
Take a moment here to think about your life at its most basic point. Don’t think about your job. Take away your material things. And remove all thoughts of anything tangible. Now consider this question:
What moments in your life are you truly happy?
I’ve said many times that happiness is a conscious choice you must make daily. But what about those moments when you find yourself gravitating towards something because it makes you giddy? As much as happiness is something you absolutely must pursue, it’s also something that shows itself in unexpected moments. And for most Americans, those moments are probably fleeting.
The pursuit of happiness
Maybe the times you felt the most empty were the times you rushed out to your favorite shop and bought that expensive handbag. It fills that emptiness, if only for a moment. After all, you’ve had a rough day; you deserve it.
Purchases like this give you a great rush of adrenaline. This new “thing” has solved your problems and made you feel like you can conquer whatever issues may arise. Until the credit card bill comes. Then panic sets in. You get nervous and sweaty. Then resentful.
How could this one item cause you to get so out of sync with your happiness? The daily battles in the pursuit of happiness may knock you off track in your long-term pursuit. To really win the war, you have to take an honest look at your everyday actions.
It’s up to you
You must recognize your participation in your own life. You know why the credit card bill deflated your good spirits, but why did buying that handbag make you feel so good? Did someone make a comment about what you had that made you insecure? Or maybe your boss got one, and you want to look like you belong.
When dealing with your day-to-day spending, always look at the root of your purchases. You know it only takes one misstep to rob you of your happiness. Accepting that blame means that you know you have a choice to either continue in the position, or to walk away and start fresh. You’ve taken responsibility for your own happiness.
Sign up for my weekly words of wisdom (in the top right-hand corner of your screen) for encouraging thoughts each Tuesday. And be sure to check out my book, The Emotion Behind Money, for guidance and healing. You can take control of your finances, and I can help you.
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