Seeking Happiness

It seems that these days we are on an endless quest for happiness, and none of us are quite sure what is going to get us there. Is it a bigger house? More jewelry? The latest car? The newest designer handbag? What is it that is going to make us happy?

It doesn’t help that the term “retail therapy” is so widely accepted as a way to deal with emotions that may be deeper seated than simply needing to buy a new pair of shoes.

So how to we find happiness if it is not found in buying more “stuff”? 

Firstly, we have to take a look at what the deeper issues are. Assess what emotion you are trying to cover up by buying the latest iPhone? Are you experiencing loneliness from a break-up? 

Are you shopping for things just to fit in? Are you experiencing lower self-esteem at the moment? Are you trying to find validation in making a purchase? 

Don’t get me wrong, I have been there. We have all been there. Buying things is a thrill from the moment you pick up that sweater, feel it, try it on, bring it up to the counter, tap your card and off you go, brand new sweater in hand. 

It is exciting. But what happens next? You wear the sweater a few times, decide it is no longer your “style” and throw it out or “donate” it. 

Did you know that less than 10% of charitable donations are kept for resale at a thrift store? Or that Africa has stopped accepting our clothing donations because they are inundated with the amount we are sending. 

Benjamin Leszcz wrote an amazing and informative article for The Globe and Mail called “The Life Changing Magic of Making Do” where he talks about how we are so attuned to replacing things in our lives once we aesthetically decide we no longer have use for it instead of purchasing quality products, less often, and using them for as long as we can and repairing them when necessary. I encourage you to give it a read as it is quite an eye opener.  

I find it quite helpful to write everything down in a journal. Journal about how you are feeling. Then really assess a practical way to go about dealing with the issue. 100% of the time a new pair of shoes will not solve a deeper issue, it will just temporarily cover it up by giving you feelings of adrenaline and endorphins. 

That’s not to say you won’t ever need to buy anything ever again, because you will. But I encourage you to be more thoughtful about your purchases and buy only what you need and things that will be sustainable. 

What we are seeking isn’t inherently more “stuff”, it is the feeling that the stuff gives us. In the words of Benjamin Leszcz, “our things won’t make us happy....the stuff of life isn’t stuff at all”. 

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