There are so many things to be tempted and distracted by in the world. It’s easy to fall into a comparison trap. The reality is though, more stuff won’t make you happy. But, gratitude will.
Why more stuff won’t make you happy
Does the stuff you own now make you happy? Not as in do you like it, but does it bring you true and lasting happiness? Even if some items spark joy, stuff isn’t at the center of fulfillment or contentment.
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting more. We may believe advertising claims about how much better our life would be with this or that product. I’ve found a few products that helped simplify my life, but they are few and far between.
For most things, if they bring you joy at all it’s temporary.
No matter how much stuff you acquire it never feels like enough. When you’re acquiring things to make you happy, you’ll find yourself sorely disappointed. Stop chasing things that are empty.
If the stuff you own now hasn’t brought you happiness, why would you think that more of it would?
Stuff can become part of your identity. You begin to believe you are what you own, but you’re so much more than a consumer. So don’t put your identity in how much money you have and what you’re able to buy. You’re worth more than that.
I bet we can all think of people who became rich and famous only to find that it didn’t bring them contentment or solve all of their problems. They’re a prime example of how more stuff won’t make you happy.
When you focus on what you lack, you’ll always find it. Search for what is meaningful instead.
In so many cases the products don’t live up to the hype or are quickly replaced with a new version that is now the latest and greatest. Before we know it that item that we thought we needed or would make us happier becomes clutter.
Now instead of it improving our lives, it’s causing us to feel overwhelmed and burdened as it’s just one in a long line of purchasing mistakes. We hang onto the items (and the regret) because we think it could be useful or we spent so much money on it.
More stuff won’t make you happy. It will instead continue to clutter up your home and life.
Stop expecting things to make you feel better. Retail therapy isn’t a real thing. Buying more won’t solve your problems. It’s a temporary bandaid. When you process emotions by shopping you’re left with guilt, regret, debt, and clutter.
Peace doesn’t come from an overextended and cluttered life.
Leading by example
Have you met kids who get everything they want? We typically call them spoiled or entitled. And yet as adults, many do the same thing, but we call this treating yourself instead.
There is a time for enjoying things, but it’s happening constantly in our culture. It isn’t the exception. It’s the rule.
How do we expect to have kids who are happy and grateful when we keep buying more and more? If we aren’t demonstrating contentment ourselves how can we think that they would?
When children are repeatedly given too much they tend to be less appreciative. They want more for the sake of more. They’ll continue to want the newest, latest and greatest things if that’s what’s being modeled for them.
Kids get overwhelmed and are forced into a situation of having too many options and too much to clean up. Let’s teach our kids how to live well in a culture of excess. Help them to focus on gratitude instead.
Why gratitude will make you happy
Gratitude shifts our focus to what we already have. While it doesn’t change our circumstances, it completely changes our perspective.
“Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.” (Harvard Health)
Start a habit of choosing gratitude every day. Even if your situation stays the same, you’ll be happier when you’re focused on gratitude.
Think about what brings you joy in life. What makes you happy? What is your why? Consider what is meaningful and fulfilling in your life. Do your life goals reflect what brings you happiness? Often we include material things in our goals, but perhaps gratitude will help to refrain what is truly more important.
It is often some of the simplest things that bring the most joy.
How to have more gratitude
We are so inundated with messages telling us about the stuff that choosing to live more simply in a consumer culture doesn’t come easy. It takes effort and intention. Through these tips, you can have more gratitude in your life.
Comparing yourself with others rarely inspires positive action. Sure there are role models we can look up to and aspire to become more like, but most often that isn’t what’s happening.
Typically we are seeing someone else’s life through the lens of social media and decide it is somehow better than ours. They look happier, more put together like everything is going their way.
It’s not reality. Everyone has their own unique challenges and the majority are not sharing them on Facebook. Do yourself a favor by not comparing yourself with others.
Protect your mindset by being careful with what you allow in. Unfollow people if you need to.
Look for the good
What you choose to focus on grows. If you want to be happier, focus on what’s already good in your life. In some situations, it can be more challenging to find but there is always something good if you look hard enough for it.
Choose to dwell on the positive. When you continually look for that good and choose to be grateful, you will feel happier. In even the most trying circumstances there is still something good that can be found somewhere.
In all the things you already own, look for your favorite and most treasured items. Often they are hidden underneath the clutter. Decluttering can make you more grateful as you rediscover the things you love that were crowded out by the excess stuff.
Reframe your thoughts
When you’re tempted to buy something, ask yourself why. Are you looking for it to bring happiness? Think about your motivation for shopping and whether or not you really want that item. Remind yourself that more stuff doesn’t bring happiness.
When you’re tempted to compare yourself with others, shift your perspective on what you have to be grateful for. Think about what’s unique and special about you. Shift your thoughts and keep your mind focused on being thankful.
If life circumstances have you down and you feel like complaining, reflect on what you’re grateful for. The discipline of shifting your focus will help you to break the habit of complaining.
Start a daily gratitude practice
If you haven’t yet started a daily gratitude practice, today can be the day. It can be as simple as writing down three things on a sheet of paper that you’re grateful for.
You could create your own gratitude journal or buy one to keep an ongoing list of what you’re thankful for. Then in the trying times, you have these to look back on and remind you of the good.
As you create a habit of gratitude, it will change your outlook and your life.
More stuff won’t make you happy, but gratitude will.
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