A lot of people try to make themselves happy by buying shoes. Other people buy art, or cars. When I was young my family was very well off financially, and I considered us a happy family. Some people might say it’s because we had a big house, a nice couple of cars, and every toy me and my siblings could ever hope for. Those people might be right, owning what you want does provide a bit of happiness. However, it’s only temporary. Searching for the happiest times of my life in my mind, I’ve come to find they have nothing to do with being the owner of material property.
While I had everything I ever wanted when I was young, I don’t attribute that as the root of my happiness. My experiences have proved to me that owning this season’s Louis Vuitton $2,600 pair of shoes is not going to bring me happiness. There’s an old philosophy story, The philosophy of the perfect chair. It says how everything you want to buy is perfect in the store, and it will bring you euphoria, anticipation, and excitement before the purchase. Nonetheless, the high peak of your happiness will be the moment before purchasing it. Sure, that moment is such a thrill. It seems fairly easy to be mistaken by true happiness.
When I was twelve, my dad underwent an open heart surgery. Waiting in a hospital for almost seven hours to find out if he was going to make it or not, is one of the most painfully stressful and saddening moments in my life. After the surgery, the doctor came out and with a smile on his face said everything went perfectly. Feeling the release of what felt like giant Hulk hands making knots with my intestines suddenly stop, was the most thrilling feeling ever. I was not going to be fatherless. This peace of mind, and lightheartedness swept over me unlike anything I had felt before. No pair of shoes, toys, cars, houses, or any other material object could ever top this.
For me, happiness is not about what material objects you own; it’s about the hard things to find in life. Anyone with three hundred dollars can buy a GoPro, but its not about the camera. What use is a camera if you have no one to star in it but yourself? It seems like more and more people these days have realized that it doesn’t matter what you have, it matters what you have lived. My dad has a saying, “The song you’ve danced to, the places you’ve seen, and the food you’ve eaten; no one can take that away from you.” In a way I think it all comes down to that. Everything you own can be taken away, but not your family, your experiences, or your values.
In this society we are taught to buy. If you need something fixed, buy this. If you want whiter teeth, look at these whitening strips. Everything is disposable, there is no need to fix anything when you can just buy a new one. At the same time, people are so consumed by their jobs that they forget what is truly important. You can be the highest earning CEO in the country, but spending so much time immersed in your job comes with sacrifices. It can be incredibly hard to be the best in your field, and have a good relationship with anyone that is not an essential part of it. Hearing stories about trust-fund kids that can’t seem to stay out of trouble, makes me wonder what kind of upbringing they had. Their parents are too busy making the money to be able to buy themselves, and their kids everything that they forget to raise them.
I believe owning things can give you a certain quantity of joy, but would never call it happiness. Although the definition of happiness is defined by whoever is experiencing it. I have had every material thing I have wanted, and I have also lacked the monetary sustenance to buy food. Being in both sides of the spectrum and analyzing my well-being in each situation has made me come to the conclusion that my dad was right all along. What matters in life and will make you happy beyond a few seconds, days, or even months is hard to keep, hard to find, and can’t be bought.