I came across a blog this morning on materialism . The author was describing the misconception that when we buy something it produces a feeling of happiness, as opposed to the reality, which is the feeling is excitement. Perhaps this is more common in women. It would seem that way to me. Why do we equate spending with happiness?
This got me thinking of how I have changed my own patterns since becoming unemployed. Oh yes, I could say I’m employed now as a writer, soon-to-be author, and all around creative, busy girl. Employed in the sense I’m referring to here equals a steady source of income. Back then, I gave myself little perks and prizes every day. Why cook when I can stop on the way home for amazing take-out Italian? Need to go to the dry cleaners but have a quick trip to New York? Just go grab a new outfit. Someone at work shows up with heart-stoppingly cool new shoes? I’ve worked hard all morning, lunch is just enough time to go to the shoe store. I was buying excitement and that tingle of “new.” The underlying unhappiness that lead me to reward myself for living went unnoticed.
Last weekend when Oldita and her family came to visit, I gave them a quick tour of my home. I love people’s reaction to this house, it is absurdly oversized for little old me, but I have managed to fill it with an eclectic assortment of stuff. When we got to my bedroom, I opened the walk-in closet door to show Ella my 1960’s cocktail hat collection. Oldita exclaimed, “Michael, you’ve got to see this closet. Martha always had the coolest clothes!” The compliment was huge but also made me stop and think of the materialistic life I had lived in those clothes.
Remembering my post from yesterday on “Do-Overs,” I asked myself if this was something I would change in my past. If I didn’t have that closet full of expensive outfits, I wonder if I would appreciate my current wardrobe of riding britches and jeans? Or am I still defining myself by the material “armor” du jour?
Beyond apparel and accessories, I have a garage full of what I loosely term “horse stuff.” There are fleece coolers left over from ponies long gone, bits and pieces of tack, trunks full saddle pads and winter blankets. The amount of excess is embarrassing. It reminds me a little of the cartons in the attic of Lex and Hanni’s Breyer Horse models. In the early 60’s, when Breyer Horses first showed up in my life, I had just one. It was my pride and joy. I took particular care when I set up my “barn” in a discarded shoe box to house my magic horse. I never felt the need for a whole herd.
I surmise the behavior of happiness is known as a child. The actions of adulthood transfer that behavior to what we believe fits the blue-print for joy. It is within everyone’s power to see the difference.