We live in an increasingly consumerist society: we buy our basic needs like food, clothing, shelter. We buy our education in the form of ridiculously expensive textbooks and skyrocketing tuition fees. We buy our safety with cameras, guns, and pepper spray. We buy our friends in the form of nights out, road trips, and birthday presents, and our significant other with candlelight dinners, elaborate weddings, and more presents. We even buy water, and in some places, air, which are both just all around us, free for the taking.
But, are we also buying our happiness?
For most of us, the answer is yes. We shop for happiness by spending money on these things:
- Travel destinations- from plane tickets, accommodation, pocket money, even for souvenirs so that we can also make the people who weren’t with us during the trip theoretically happy
- Big and small material purchases, whether it’s an avocado sandwich, a movie ticket, or a new ferrari
- Fun and relaxing activities, such as amusement parks, bar hopping, resorts, spas and salons that some of us frequent weekly
- Bucket list items like cliff diving or seeing a Lady Gaga concert that costs about a month’s worth of salary
- Life milestones, be it getting an education or buying your dream house, each costing us more and more money
This never-ending search for happiness in the next big thing or activity or important event that we can afford is actually leading us further away from that seemingly elusive happiness.
This consumerist approach on happiness all just results in discontentment with what we have, because we always feel that happiness is in the next big thing. It makes us stuck in a cycle of reminiscing the past and obsessing with the future, rather than living fully in the present. We become historians and astrologists- studying the past, predicting the future. We look back at the moments that made us happy and try to recreate them, but this time even better.
It just doesn’t work. Sure, maybe for those few precious moments, you felt happy. But we weren’t meant to live a life with only a small part of it being happy. It isn’t right for us to think that we can only be happy when we have money to buy us happy experiences. After all, don’t we often hear the phrase “money can’t buy happiness?”
Then, where can we find happiness?
We are not saying don’t travel, or eat good food, or go out with friends, or buy that green scarf. You just have to remember that you can be happy with or without all these things, simply because happiness comes from within ourselves. It is not found in all the things and experiences in the world, but inside each one of us.
We shouldn’t look for happiness in the next person or activity, but rather look inside of ourselves. Take being in a relationship, for example. A healthy and happy relationship is when two happy people come together and share and grow that happiness, not one or both of them looking for someone and depending on that person in order to feel happy.
See, happiness is in the knowledge that you are a whole and complete human being, and wholeheartedly accepting yourself. It is in fully living and being in the present.
Happiness is in you, in this moment, right now.