Happiness Based on the Want and Not the Have

Being Happy

Health through happiness; how do we measure it? How many times have you walked down the length of the mall, window shopping and daydreaming of having that new television with its HD screen and crisp images? How many times have you stared at that new IPad 4 with its retina vision and imagined it making your life easier as you play around while you lounge on the sofa? What about that new laundry machine that finishes its work 15 minutes faster?

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Health through happiness; how do we measure it? How many times have you walked down the length of the mall, window shopping and daydreaming of having that new television with its HD screen and crisp images? How many times have you stared at that new IPad 4 with its retina vision and imagined it making your life easier as you play around while you lounge on the sofa? What about that new laundry machine that finishes its work 15 minutes faster?

How many times have you watched someone drive by in a car you dream of owning, or driven down a street with homes large enough to house 10 families, believing it to be perfect for your family of four? We all dream. We dream of a better life and are willing to do anything to get it, including mortgage everything we have and pull out loan after loan. We become the perfect consumer for a capitalist society.

Life in the developed world has taken on the path of loans and physical goods. Material gain is believed to make people happy, to lift spirits and ease the tension off their shoulders. There is a wise saying, “money cannot buy you happiness”, uttered by the older generations, or those who have seen the deterioration of values in society. Money cannot buy you happiness, but, for a materialist, it can buy anything and everything to bring happiness to your doorstep; literally.

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“Thinking about acquisition provides momentary happiness boosts to materialistic people, and because they tend to think about acquisition a lot, such thoughts have the potential to provide frequent mood boosts. But the positive emotions associated with acquisition are short-lived. Although materialists still experience positive emotions after making a purchase, these emotions are less intense than before they actually acquire a product,” writes author Marsha L. Richins (University of Missouri).

Let’s face it. In the modern developed world, most people have turned to materialism, a way of life strongly encouraged by commercial media along every step of every day. Three different studies followed the happiness levels of materialists, finding that happiness levels showed a significantly large increase when thinking about future purchases, no matter the expense or when this purchase would occur. The very fact that they would be obtaining a new object gave them such euphoria, one is left to wonder at the absurdity of the situation.

Nevertheless, it’s no secret that many people enjoy shopping when things become too stressful in their lives. Shopping therapy, they call it. For teenagers, it’s the breakup therapy of choice among females in North America, it seems. Men show signs of electronics shopping when distressed. To some extent, most individuals have a materialistic streak. When considering the self-proclaimed true materialists, however, studies show that there exists such intensity in happiness just prior to a purchase, it’s rather breathtaking. It’s almost as if they believe the new material acquisition will change their lives in profound manners, increasing the quality of relationships around them as well as the pleasure received from life itself. Once the purchase is made, the euphoria will evaporate, only to regain its intensity at the thought of something bigger and better and probably more expensive.

After all, banks rely on materialists to pull out loans and pay interest over interest, simply for a moment’s pleasure. It’s great to be a banker in the developing world full of materialists. Truly, there is no better place to be if you wish to make money. You do want that new Mercedes, right?

Source: Journal of Consumer Research

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