You know the Beatles had it right: “Money can’t buy you love”!
Do you love to shop? Do you shop online, at the mall on the weekend and look out for late night shopping?
Do you find yourself falling in love with the newest, latest, and better than ever phone, techno gadget or gizmo or game? Are you crazy for shoes? Clothes? A foodie? Appliances? The latest car? Video games?
Have you lined up for hours to get the best deals at the sales in the big box stores? Go on, admit it, you love to shop!
I bet you feel just great when you buy the latest “must-have” item. Do you get a kind of warm and fuzzy sense of elation as you clutch your shiny plastic bag full of awesome new stuff? However, have you noticed how that happy feeling imperceptibly disappears over the next few hours or days as the novelty factor wears off?
Are you left with a dreadful, hollow ache inside that says you are empty? Do you start feeling isolated and disconnected, lonely, sad and even downright miserable? So much so that the only way to feel better is to go shopping again! You’re trapped in a cycle that never brings satisfaction.
Research suggests that even the wealthiest of people are not necessarily happier.
They may have more freedom but they can find that freedom overwhelming. They may have more choices but that can cause confusion. They may worry about how their rich children will be perceived by their peers.
The moral in the tale is basically, no matter how many riches you may have access to on the outside, or how many notes and pieces of plastic are bulging from your wallet, your mind still holds the key to your happiness. “Stuff” gives us a very temporary “high” and soon we are left with our previously existing underlying internal state to either face or avoid.
Therefore, happiness must be cultivated on the inside, and not depend on outer circumstances. If we expect the outside world to bring us lasting happiness, we must always be disappointed. Our loved ones die, we too must grow old, life is a constantly changing landscape where nothing lasts forever.
As the Dalai Lama famously said:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Knowing that your life is as temporary as all the things in it can help you cultivate a sense of gratitude. The more you appreciate what you have, the more you focus on what is going right for you, and develop your “gratitude muscle”, the more you will actually start to experience more joy, happiness and optimism.
You can increase your sense of connectedness and decrease your sense of isolation, according to research. You can start to behave with more generosity and compassion, which in turn will increase the inner feel good factor, and you can even boost your immunity with this practice alone.
Keep a daily gratitude journal or think of three things you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. Being grateful helps, you experience more positive emotions. Moreover, just think of all the money you will save!