As I get older, I realize how unimportant the formerly important things were. I think of all the status symbols that used to matter – a new car, fabulous clothes, the newest iPhone… and now I say to myself, what was I thinking?! Truth is, those things can make you giddy for a brief moment, perhaps excite you, but they cannot bring true happiness. Happiness is found deep within, an inner peace and contentment, not with belongings or possessions, but with feelings.
In my late 20s I bought a Mercedes, a shiny black four door sedan. It was what I thought I wanted at the time. What I thought I should obtain by a certain age as a symbol of my socioeconomic status. I posted a picture on my social media site, the car almost smiling with its big lilac colored bow. See me, I am happy. I can afford this!
I had set a goal for myself to get my dream car and I did. Turns out, I was setting the wrong goals. The car wasn’t what I needed. I needed something more. I was foolish and thought a [insert designer brand name here] handbag would make me happy. I spent $1,300 on a piece of monogrammed leather, yet the high was temporary. The purse soon lost its luster and there was a whisper of emptiness.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” -Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Once I hit thirty, I realized how much of this “happiness” I was being fed, mostly by society and the media. Instead of striving for greatness in my life, I was longing for material things. I decided to reprioritize and focus on things that really mattered.
Now, happiness is going full-time with my education and working to finally finish my degree. Happiness is applying to graduate school. Happiness is doing well at my job. Happiness is walks with my husband and our dogs. Happiness is blogging. Happiness is volunteering and making a difference. Happiness is taking pictures. Happiness is wandering our great country.
“When someone chooses to value herself over the things she can buy, true transformation begins.” -Suze Orman
My thinking shifted. Love for material things became replaced with a love for experiences. I made sure to cut out the noise from social media, TV, and the internet telling me I desperately needed a new outfit every season, the last gadgets, and a daily $6 latte.
Of course I still buy things, but I definitely think long and hard whether I am making a purchase for the right reasons, or if I am only trying to fill an emotional void. My husband and I decided to invest in my education. I amped up my retirement fund. I began to save rather than buying more things. Turns out, happiness was putting me first.