Happiness in unexpected places.
Here are the things that companies make you think will make you happy, in no particular order.
1. A large television screen.
2. Expensive, designer clothes.
3. A sexy, trim, perfect body with 0% body fat except in all the right places.
4. A brand-new SUV that can read your mind and save you from all future car-crashes.
5. Alcohol. All the kinds of alcohol.
6. A large house or spotless condo.
7. Cute, adorable little children.
8. Greasy comfort food or healthy food that will make you thin.
No matter what media you choose to consume (Yes, Instagram counts!), that will be the narrative you'll be spoon-fed. The companies all have the same thing to say and it's that, "Consume this thing and it will give you that thing you're desperately looking for."
It's really easy to fall for this. Why? Because it's everywhere. Our current economic system feeds off of consumption and so for everything to work, we have to want, want, want. We have to want and we have to spend.
The funny thing I've noticed though, is that the people you would think are the happiest - the people who have everything - seem absolutely miserable. Why? Because there will always be more out there to consume. There will always be something better than the last thing. And where does that end? It ends in unhappiness.
I'm bringing this up because C and I have basically clawed our way out of being "poor" and we've started working towards building "wealth." This marks the first month I'll have been truly debt-free since my second-year of university (where I took out my student loans that I'll have just paid off this month). It feels amazing to have put that debt behind me and things are starting to look up money-wise.
On top of that, I was given a fairly sizable bonus from my job today.
However, because I haven't bought much of anything for....months and months on end, the money I allocated to spend on "myself" feels kind of strange and that got me to thinking. I have been happier the past 8 months than I've been in a long time...despite not spending much money at all. And so what's really been making me happy?
So, here's my list of "Things that make me Happy":
1. Feeling secure in my job, relationships, and financial situation.
2. A good group of friends and family.
3. Having challenges to solve/overcome.
4. Sunshine and bright days.
5. Learning something new.
6. Exercising in any way I can.
7. Experiencing new things and visiting new places.
8. Spending quality time with my guy and our pet rats.
9. Getting to be creative and think outside the box.
10. Freedom to do as I wish (most the time)
11. My health!
12. Being able to enjoy nature.
Notice how most of those things....you can't really buy at all. Or if you can buy it, the price isn't usually very steep? And yes, this is definitely easy for me to say now that I've made it through the rough patch. But I can honestly say that many of those things, I did before I was making this wage....and now that I'll be making more, it just helps to cement certain aspects (such as feeling more secure).
I guess what I'm really trying to say here is that money is important. It opens up avenues that maybe you otherwise wouldn't be able to utilize. But, it doesn't equal happiness. Spending money frivolously on unnecessary things will not make you feel better for any real length of time. Buying the coolest new gadget won't make you happier. Buying new designer shoes won't make you happier. Having a massive house won't make you happier. In fact, if you overspend and end up in debt it will actively hurt your chances of happiness. Most things are fairly unnecessary and we buy them because we can.
So before you buy that thing, think about how much you need it - and then compare it against your own list of things that make you happy. Does it fit in with anything on your list? How does it stack up? If you think it will ultimately increase your happiness - go for it. If not, skip it. At least for now. Put it towards something that you will make you happy later. The pay-off and satisfaction will far out-weigh that quick jolt you get right now.