Things’ do not make us truly happy

Things’ do not make us truly happy

‘Things’ do not make us truly happy

This is article 6 of 7 in the Common-Sense Financial Principles series.

Stop for a minute and look around you.  Everything you’ve brought into your life was once an object of desire.  Given that you have this stuff, are you now fulfilled?

All this stuff was ‘important’ enough that you took the action to buy it, and part with your money (and by extension your time) to get it.

Did fulfillment arrive with these things?  And did the benefits and good feelings last?

Don’t get me wrong.  Stuff is great.  It is ok to own things, so long as they don’t end up owning you.  Normally this happens when the debt used to acquire them outlives the satisfaction they provide.  If only debt disappeared as quickly as the lustre of a new purchase.

The problems begin when we don’t make our acquisitions with intentionality.  Or where we give our stuff the job of making us happy.

Most things are designed to perform a function; they have utility.  However, somewhere along the line, we have imbued them with the power to meet our psychological needs.  And even though they’ve been found lacking, we keep going back to the well.

Online shopping has significantly reduced the friction associated with our transactions.  One click and the item will soon be at your door.  This ease of purchase is like retail therapy of old, but on steroids.  Comfort shopping, like comfort eating, doesn’t end well.  Throw in some BNPL options at the checkout and we’re starting to see where it can go seriously wrong.

And in a troublesome spiral, any dissatisfaction you feel about your latest round of purchases failing to do their job of filling the void, can lead to more purchases.  It is tempting to think that the right combination of stuff will add up to the satisfaction we’re looking for in life.

So, what can we do to change this scenario?  Start by differentiating between a Need and a Want.  Think carefully about whether the item will truly add value to your life.  Or are you just keeping up with the Joneses?  It might be better to let go of the item before it comes into your life.  Consider how you can avoid clutter and save money by avoiding unnecessary purchases.

Intuitively we know that there are greater and more meaningful elements to our life.  It’s our relationships, personal growth and progress that can deliver lasting wellbeing for us.  We explore this further in the next and final article of this series. In the meantime,…

Are you clear on which things will add value to your life?  Would you like help to align your spending with your most important goals in life? Let’s schedule a Zoom chat to talk about how you can move forward today.

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”
P.T. Barnum
American author