“Happiness is a state of mind….not a state of affairs.” – Doug Lennick
The thrill of spending money is real. Our bodies release chemicals that make us feel awesome when we make purchases.
To jump into the science for a moment, our bodies release dopamine, which gives us a shopping high.
Sadly, buyer’s remorse, that feeling in our gut when we realize we’ve done something we shouldn’t have, is real as well. When our mind finally catches up to the chemical reaction of the purchase and realizes that our chemistry tricked our conscious thoughts….we feel absolutely horrible.
Been there? I have. In college I bought an expensive sweater at Nordstrom (I still own it because that sweater is 80’s bad-ass material).
I paid with my new American Express card. I was a freshman in college and had no money AND I went to The Citadel (military college) and couldn’t work to repay the debt.
Weeks later the card was gone and I had a bunch of overdue credit AND a ruined credit rating at 18 years old.
That’s why internalizing Doug Lennick’s quote above, especially if we’re fighting debt or if we’re behind on our goals, is so important.
We can’t get where we want to go by buying things.
How do we get there? Simple. We realize that happiness comes not from things or money, but from inside. If I want to get ahead, that’s great, but I’ll be just as unhappy with lots of money as I was as a college student, flat broke.
When I was in college I dated a woman for four years. Four years (it helps that I had seven years of college….)! Everyone except me was pretty sure that this was headed for bigger things.
When I ended that relationship I had a realization similar to this one on Jerry McGuire:
I had to learn the same thing. I had to be happy with who I was, right then. Girls didn’t like me, and that shouldn’t have been surprising. I was an unhappy mess. Who the hell wanted to be around that?
Why didn’t I like myself? That’s easy. My horrible debt situation grew, I was in a dead-end degree (at least as far as jobs went), and I realized I was ill-prepared for the real world, even though my college experience was close to over. In short: I’d screwed myself and I knew it.
But nothing….nothing was going to get better until I woke up one day and realized that I had to be comfortable in my own skin.
I didn’t have to be happy with my situation.
I still wanted better for myself.
But I had to realize that I deserved better.
I deserved more.
Others won’t complete you. A job won’t complete you. Stuff won’t complete you. MONEY won’t complete you. Happiness is a state of mind.
Check out this review of the great film Happy by my friend Femme Frugality.
Photo: Modern Britain