Consuming Happiness

In our culture, Happiness has been consumerised. Like almost everything, it has become a product.

Despite the improved quality of life in much of the developed world, many people are remain unhappy.

The consumer culture tells us that we should always want more stuff. We’re told (or sold?) that the money that we earn needs to be spent buying more things, so we can store them up for ourselves or consume them immediately. We then need to buy “the next thing” or the newest version of a product, as soon as it is released.

We equate having new and more things with finding happiness, yet this “retail therapy” often leaves us feeling emptier than before.

I am frustrated with myself when I participate in this culture. I know I have too much “stuff”. In the summer, I spent a whole weekend sorting out my old things and clothes that could be recycled, charity shopped or sold. Yet, when I moved to my new uni house for this year, I was still left wondering how I still had a van full of belongings.

I don’t need it all. Many things are from my childhood – memories, old school work, books – but I no longer have a use for most of them. (Then again, am I again falling into the consumer trap, thinking everything needs to have a use or purpose to be of value to me?)

When I finish uni, I’ve promised myself that I’ll have a big clear out of all my old things. I hope I can donate, recycle or sell on many things I no longer need. 

I have a strong desire for simplicity and minimalism, but I’m not very good at it at the moment.

Do you feel that you have too much stuff?

(Adapted from and inspired by p.122 of Finding Happiness by Abbot Christopher Jamison)