How to Find Happiness Without Buying It


March 22, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Our materialistic society has led us to believe that happiness cannot be obtained without having money.

Rather than learning to be satisfied with what we have, we are taught to want more. We learn from advertising, and from the media, that we need to buy trinkets and toys in order to make ourselves happy, or to fulfill emotional needs, and that the purchases they are trying to talk us into will provide us with the psychological comfort we are looking for.

Unfortunately, as a society we have bought into these misguided messages and have come to believe that spending money on certain items will bring us fame, fortune, happiness, beauty, or popularity. We end up using money as a crutch to provide us with something we ultimately must find within ourselves. As we become caught up in this charade, we trade precious hours of our lives trying to earn the money we have been taught to covet so much. We trade hours of our lives working, sacrificing time that could have been spent with our families, for the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

In order to find true happiness, we first must learn to change our attitudes about money. We must learn that money, and the spending of it, provides only a temporary relief but does not present us with any real long lasting benefits. We end up owning something we either do not really want or do not really need, and the underlying emotional issues remain.

Rather than focus on the temporary satisfaction you may feel from spending money, try the following to bring you happiness without it.

    • Imagine Having no Money
      Imagine what you would do for happiness if you had no money at all. Think about how you would spend your time, and what you would do for enjoyment. Change your focus from material possessions to other things that bring you enjoyment, such as spending quality time with your family and friends. Rather than focusing on the accumulation of possessions, concentrate instead on playing with or reading to your children, or spending time out enjoying nature. 
  • Want What you Already Have
    Society teaches us to want what others have. Instead, shift your thinking so that you are satisfied with, or want, what is already yours. What tends to happen is once we reach our goals in terms of owning personal possessions, we trade those old goals in for a set of new ones that involves bigger, better, and grander objects. 

Goals are good to have because they motivate us to work, and to continue to strive for self improvement. The key is to find a balance between having worthy goals and recognizing when we are allowing the desire for possessions to overwhelm the importance of other aspects of our lives. Rather than constantly striving for things we do not have, we need to shift our focus to being thankful for the things we already possess. 

  • Volunteer Your Time
    One way to appreciate what you have is to work with others who have nothing, or who have disabilities that no amount of money can overcome. Volunteering time to work in a food bank, or to work with underprivileged children, can really alter your perspective on where you are in life, and can create a deeper appreciation for the gifts you do have in your life. 

Helping others can boost your spirits as well. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction to be gained from giving aid to those who are in need of it, leaving you with a sense of satisfaction that will carry over into your own life. Use the experiences of helping others to teach your children compassion and civic responsibility.

There are a number of ways to enjoy life without the need for a great deal of money. Certainly, it is important to work and earn enough to provide for our basic needs and the needs of our families, but it is important to recognize when the desire for personal possessions becomes overly consuming. There needs to be a balance between a satisfying work life and a rich home life, and the best way to achieve such a balance is to ensure the drive for material possessions does not become all consuming.

Written by David B. Bohl, the author of of Slow Down Fast Photo Credit: lanmuoip

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