Everyday “stuff” is shoved into our faces — lots and lots of stuff.
We’re implicitly told to believe that if we don’t buy certain stuff, we won’t be happy.
“Buy this cream! You’ll look more beautiful and you’ll be happier.”
“If you can get the newest iPhone, you’ll be cooler — and happier!”
“If you buy our lotto tickets, you can be richer — oh, and happier.”
“Get on Match.com. You’ll find the love of your life and you’ll be — you guessed it! — happier.”
And if they’re not manipulating us to buy stuff, they’re beguiling us to buy crap to get others’ approval.
When are we going to learn that this is all a bunch of nonsense? The truth is that “stuff” CANNOT possibly make you happy. It just can’t.
And why is that?
Well, we scientifically cannot be permanently satisfied by stuff — or people — because of a little thing called boredom. Psychologically and behaviorally, our interests are piqued when there is new stimuli in the environment. This helps our basic survival instincts — it tells us to make note that there’s something unfamiliar around you and it’s your choice whether or not to determine if it’s dangerous or not.
But, when that new stimulus remains in our environment for a long enough period, we will eventually get bored. This is pure science. And this concept absolutely applies to the “stuff” we’re pressured to buy and the people we’re pushed to date.
To keep it simple, we’re scientifically predisposed to get bored. We’re human! And that is the reason why new stuff — money, clothes, partners, etc. — do not keep us aroused.
So it all boils down to one question, “So what, then, is the secret to happiness?”
First, let me tell you a story — a true story about”The Nuer,” a tribe in southern Sudan whom was observed by an English anthropologist by the name of Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard in the 1930s.
The Nuer were, in the eyes of Evans-Pritchard, “primitive.” Coming from an advanced society of cars, high-end London fashion, industrialization, well-paved roads and so on and so forth, Evans-Pritchard initially couldn’t see the Nuer as a “happy” civilization…at first.
The Nuer wore minimal clothing, and they had no radio, TV, newspapers, film, clocks — oh, and no advertisements to surreptitiously tell ’em they’re not good enough unless they buy some some useless product.
But Evans-Pritchard grew envious of The Nuer. He realized that they didn’t have the concept of time that the English had (Stay with me now! I promise this story has a point). There was no rushing, there was no sense of tardiness — there was no need to acquire something by a certain time period.
If it were not for the warring tribes at the time, the Nuer were damn-close to being a utopia.
Really, the only thing that the Nuer cared about having is cattle; these animals provided them all that they needed to survive and thrive in society. Food, clothing, and currency.
All they needed was cattle.
The Nuer had no idea what they could have because it wasn’t flashed in front of their faces since there was an absence of the Westernized mode of economics and technology.
Evans-Pritchard, if my memory serves me correctly, said that the Nuer were happier than his own English folk back home because their society eliminated the “yearning” and “need” for stuff. All they wanted was cattle. And they had cattle.
If from this anecdote you got that my point was to ditch our advanced ways and go tribal, you’re atrociously way off the mark. On the other hand, if you got that we needed to rework our thinking and dodge the pressure to buy useless things that don’t even serve their purpose of making us happier, BINGO!
That is the secret to happiness — not having the desire to blindly give up your hard-earned cash to indirectly purchase something as worthless as others’ approval.
Because the truth is, no matter how much “stuff” you buy, the only thing that can help you achieve a peace of mind is reconditioning your mind to repel the need of approval from society.
Now let me be clear — there’s nothing wrong with buying cool stuff. It’s the intent behind WHY we’re buying that product that is the big issue. If you want to buy the new Apple iWatch because you’re a tech whiz who just loves gadgets — knock yourself out. But if the reason why you’re buying something falls under the following categories, I’d reconsider the purchase:
- I sorta wanna to show off and get looks of approval for what I have
- If I buy this, I know I’ll be happy.
- I will feel better about myself physically, mentally and emotionally if I get this product.
So to sum to all up, when making purchase, you should create a need vs. want assessment. To achieve happiness, you should only purchase what you need. And understand that, because you’re human, nothing has the capability to make you permanently happy. Instead, you’ll have to find your peace of mind throughout whatever life throws at you — poverty or wealth.