Stuff Can’t Buy You Happiness

When I was a kid I always liked the idea of stuff. You know, material things. I became accustomed to wanting all the newest toys, and boy my parents knew they were in for trouble. Our downstairs overtime turned into a never-ending pile of games, dolls, giant plush animals, tech toys, stuff.

What caught my attention today as an adult is how often these toys were used and genuinely enjoyed. From my recollection they were used sparingly, then unfortunately collected dust. On to the next. I was a kid who had a lot of material possession within my grasp (don’t think I wasn’t grateful – I was very much so), but the question remains, did it actually contribute to my happiness as a child? Or was I a product of consumerism? From what I remember, my most vivid memories are mainly outside adventures with friends & family. I barely recall those toys I had… aside from Dance Dance Revolution on Playstation, that was a highlight. 😉

Materialistic possessions are quite the status quo in society today no matter the age. The relevant struggles as an adult can be: You just paid off your car, but now you’re considering something more up to date with the latest technology. The latest iPhone launched and you just don’t know what you’d do without it. Your friends have X, and you feel as though you should have X too. The illusion is clear: the more you have, the better. What you have translates to success, and success is the ultimate form of happiness…

And so that’s the mentality I continued to follow since I was a kid. I reached and kept reaching and yet I still felt a void. Something was missing. These things I own aren’t making me feel how I thought they would in the long-term. How?

With looking for fulfillment in things we own, are we truly fulfilled with happiness and freedom?

There’s a reason why kids will open a present, find excitement in that product for a moment and go straight for the box instead. There’s a reason why we feel more whole when we’re around friends & family than we feel sitting in front of technology.

We’re creatures of creativity. We feed off of connection, not the tangibles. We crave meaningful conversations, not the games on our phones.

My advice? Pause before buying into the latest and greatest trends. Begin looking inward, less outward. More importantly, don’t compare yourself to others, even those closest to you. You’ve probably heard the richest of celebrities say “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Roll your eyes about the statement, but believe it; they’re wise words from those who understand. Of course, money is essential for meeting our basic needs, but the extras do not buy your happiness. If you feel they do, great, but if you find yourself climbing for more and more, it’ll never be enough. Short term satisfaction!

I know it sounds trivial, but it took me a long time to understand this concept. For so long I kept climbing the latter of not just wanting more, but also feeling as though I needed more. I think it all really started unfolding when I began the journey of emotional awareness. As I questioned the idea of what made me feel truly content, the answers started to unfold right in front of me.

I find less interest in the newest clothing lines & expensive purses and more in thrifting. A day outside with friends is valued more than an expensive brunch. I pursue saving and investing in my future rather than swiping my credit card and spending in the now. During the holidays my dad asked me if I wanted a card, in which I told him I did not unless there was substance to it; thoughtful, loving words scribbled from the heart. All are examples regarding my shift in mindset, the art of spending less on tangible things, the quick fixes, and more on priceless moments and future goals.

The takeaway: Be the kid who goes for the box instead of the toy. Choose to create. Choose quality connections over materialism. Pay attention to what you can afford, and what’s worth holding off on. If you don’t know what intangible things make you feel happiness, learn. Question yourself. What do you value? Does _____ add value to my life? What are my needs, versus my wants? Write it down. Memorize it. Understand it. This starts the breakaway journey from the obsession of acquiring stuff.

“These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values.” – Dalai Lama

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