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The Consumption Of Happiness

Updated on February 1, 2014

We've all heard the phrase 'money doesn't buy happiness' before, right? Well...does it? Let's think about this for a moment. Say you just landed that job promotion you've been after for months. Now you want to splurge because, let's face it: You can now. So you go out and buy yourself a fancy new car. Two weeks later that original elation from buying that big-money item dissipates and you're back at square one- You're content again. Not necessarily happy, but...content. So while splurging on something you want can produce a temporary effect of extreme satisfaction, it doesn't always last.

We are in the age of ultimate consumerism. In the article "Consumption and Consumerism" by Anup Shah, highlighted are two tables which showcase the global priority for popular items spent in billions of dollars. Cosmetics in the United States is set at 8 billion, while alcoholic drinks in Europe are at 50. At the tiny end of those numbers is basic education for all- at a super low 6 billion dollars spent [these statistics are from 2011]. Does anyone else think this is just coo coo for Coco Puffs? While the rich in the world are consuming themselves in their multiple houses and thousands of shoes, the poor barely manage to get three full meals a day. Not to say that image represents all rich and all poor.

Now back to the question at hand- Does money indeed truly buy happiness? I say nay. It can provide one with a short-lived feeling of exuberant fun, then once that's all spent up the smile fades and the depression sinks in. Happiness appears to be one of those emotions that many people spend countless years trying to find. What if what they were looking for was right in front of them the whole time? It's easy to feel appeased if you take into account the "little things". Having a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back. These are very important aspects to living a satisfactory life, but do they make you happy? I don't doubt that a homeless person could possibly find happiness out of their situation- the feeling comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It's your attitude that makes the difference.

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Going Mental

Let's get to the mental health aspect of all this.

You can have everything in the world, and still be mentally unstable. The amount of 'stuff' one owns and their own personal happiness coincide in different and unusual ways.

Here is a tidbit to chew on: What if, for every single person on this universe, the number of things they had was directly proportional to their happiness?

If you really think about it, this is quite a terrifying image. People who were homeless would have no hope for their situation what-so-ever. And some don't, sadly. People who lived in luxury homes and owned multiple cars would never know the meaning true gratitude, because their brains would be so wrapped around all that stuff. They wouldn't give it a second thought. I think in order to feel honestly thankful for what you have, you have to set aside your contentment and allow yourself to think for a moment, What if I didn't have all this 'stuff'?

One of the most important things anyone can ever do is to always be grateful. If you have clothes on your back, be grateful. Even if they aren't the high-end designers that your peers seem to own multiple copies of, be thankful that you have any clothes at all.

Back to attitude; this is really a concept that can make you or break you. Let's consider the idea of going on a shopping spree to "cure" a bad mood. You can buy that dress you've had your eye on for weeks, but after one or two wears are you still going to feel as elated as when you first bought it? Maybe consuming more stuff isn't the way to go. Maybe you can feel happy with what you already own. More-so, maybe you can feel happy by just having a great circle of friends, or a family who supports you. These are precious gifts that are often overlooked for that new gaming system or sports car.

More things can only make you happy if you allow these things to have control over your satisfaction in life.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

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I want to read your opinion on all this. Can money buy happiness, or is it all just a big myth?

The most deadly criticism one could make of modern civilization is that apart from its man-made crises and catastrophes, is not humanly interesting. . . . In the end, such a civilization can produce only a mass man: incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities: at best patient, docile, disciplined to monotonous work to an almost pathetic degree. . . . Ultimately such a society produces only two groups of men: the conditioners and the conditioned, the active and passive barbarians. —Lewis Mumford, 1951


The conditioners and the conditioned. Hm.... This does sound familiar somehow. In my mind, the conditioners are those who say "Having more will make you feel more happy". And the conditioned, believing in this sentiment will do just that. They will accumulate more and more, until one day they realize that maybe more isn't more. Just maybe, having less really does mean having- and feeling- more.

Finding Happiness Outside of Material Consumption

Wanting Less means having More

Here is a short but to the point video I found on the relation between consumption and happiness. What are your thoughts? Do you agree, disagree? I'm sure that most of us can relate on some aspect to what Abby Martin has to say.



This Way
This Way | Source

Finding a Balance

Do yourself a favor- be a conditioner in a way that you have not been conditioned. What I mean to say is, find out what makes you truly and ridiculously happy. Keep it. Hold on to it. Tie a bow around it and share it with a loved one. Whatever you do, don't let your credit card determine your level of happiness for a single day. Don't follow the crowd because they seem happy, follow your heart because that is the only thing that can honestly map out your inner justification of happy.

And if you just "can't get no satisfaction", take a look around you. Perhaps that will clue you in as to why.

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