At the core of the human experiment is our quest to fill our lives with things that we believe will make us happy. There is nothing wrong with the desire to be happy, of course everyone wants to feel good about their lives. Rather, the pursuit of happiness as an end itself is a foolish pursuit because happiness is a byproduct of sowing the right seeds rather than constructing the right circumstances.
The biggest lie that leads to unhappiness, is that we have duped into believing that “having” will make us happier than “doing.”
The “having” group of happiness seekers looks for fulfillment in possessing “things” that will give them the satisfaction they desire. This is your classic, “keeping up with the Jones” type of scenario. The latest gadgets, cars, houses, or accessories become the arbiters of happiness as each new purchase brings with it the hope of eternal satisfaction.
The problem with the “having” philosophy is our human ability to adapt to new environments. The novelty of new “items” wears quickly wears off until we arrive at a new normal.
The “doing” group believes that experiences, not stuff will lead to a more fulfilling existence. Science also backs up this claim. In one experiment, researchers gave two groups participants $ 100 to spend.
One group was directed to spend the money on a material good, the other group was directed to spend it on an experience (i.e. a concert, a meal with friends, a show, etc). The researchers then measured the level of happiness in each group of participants through a series of surveys and found that the group who had spent the money on “doing” something was significantly more satisfied than the group who bought an item or good.
The important lesson here is that when we prioritize experiences, people, and “doing” over things, stuff, and “having” we are going to be happier. Happiness is a byproduct of prioritizing people over possessions. “Doing” strengthens our relational bonds, allows us to invest in important relationships, and keeps us away from buying into the lies that consuming more will make us happier.
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