Finding Contentment While Others Around You Want More.

You know how it goes – many people are out looking to make themselves happy by buying things. Do you really want to be one of them? Happiness comes in all forms; the most reliable version is the kind that you comes from yourself, not from a “thing”. But all too often (myself included, don’t get me wrong) we fall into the trap of thinking that if we buy something, we will be…happier, smarter, better-looking, etc. Too bad it will never last for any length of time! When I buy something I feel that rush that we get when we finally have what we wanted, and I can see how that would be addictive over time. And oh how I would love a Ferrari to drive around! However, I have learned that contentment comes from somewhere else and not from how much money you can spend – finding it that way is a recipe for failure.

So how can you start feeling as though you are equal to everyone else and content without having to buy your way to that state of mind? The first piece of advice I would give you is to stop receiving catalogs at home. What? Catalogs? What does that have to do with anything? Well, if you don’t have catalogs entering your home daily, you will have less time to either A. compare yourself to the unrealistic people in them or B. spend your money buying their goods. A lot of our behavior as “consumers” (I hate that word, there is a post coming soon on that as well) comes from being deluged by stuff we are made to feel as though we need or we won’t be as “good” as the other guy. Stopping the daily catalogs of clothing and home goods goes a long way to helping us feel better about ourselves, trust me…once I finally stopped all the catalogs I realized I had zero need for any of the stuff they were offering, and instead could go and find what I actually needed when I needed it. Unwanted catalogs serve one purpose – to get you to hand over your money for stuff you didn’t know you needed. So stop the catalogs asap. I use Catalog Choice to stop all mine (it’s free, don’t worry) and they do a good job of keeping that stuff out of my mailbox.

Another great way that we have found to avoid the daily assault of Buy This is to only watch TV we have recorded on our DVR. If I sit in front of the TV because I am bored, I cannot fast forward or skip over the commercials…but if I plan my viewing in advance and record all the shows I like, I can watch them commercial free. That way, I don’t even see the stuff that I somehow “need” to buy – even though I didn’t “need” it a few minutes ago. Now, of course I watch TV unscheduled sometimes – that’s just the way it is if you have a TV in your house. But I do try to limit when that happens and I always hope that there is a show or two recorded so I can watch it on my time, not theirs. We have found that this greatly reduces our need to try to keep up with The Joneses!

The key to finding your own contentment while those around you are seemingly try to buy theirs is to be able to separate yourself from the fake reality that is TV, movies, tabloid magazines, etc.. Most of us are not models or movie stars; most of us will never be pro athletes or playboy millionaires. The majority of us are just regular people, with regular jobs, and are trying to find a way to be financially and emotionally solvent. Trying to live like anyone other than yourself and your means is destining yourself to a life of misery. If you ever get to the point of living like that, by all means – go for it! But you need to be happy with what you have NOW, or you will forever be yearning for more while being unhappy. Contentment comes from within; it cannot be bought at the store if you want it to last more than a few hours or days. Finding your own happiness is way easier and cheaper than trying to buy it!

Photo feature by flattop341

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Comments (13)

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  1. Great post, David. *clap*

  2. Miranda says:

    Thanks for this great post! It’s important to remember that if you aren’t happy with what you have — or at least content with it — you will never be happy. There is always more stuff to be had.

    I also like the idea of trying to distance oneself from measuring worth in monetary and material terms. It’s something that we do too often as a society.

  3. Chuck says:

    I am pleased to hear that our free service, http://www.catalogchoice.org, is working for you.
    We have some great new features on the horizon.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree.

    I would only add that a TV really isn’t necessary at all. We have a digital projector instead. While TV+cable+tivo might not be any more expensive than DVD player+projector (both arrangements represent a significant outlay of money), at least we avoid any casual viewing, because there’s nothing to view until we choose a DVD to watch. And of course, we get all our DVDs from the library, so we have no ongoing costs.

  5. david says:

    I have friends that did that as well, and it was “out of sight, out of mind”. Seemed to work for them too!

  6. TStrump says:

    I do feel content but some of my friends don’t feel the same way – they like expensive restaurants, booze, etc.
    If they go out to these places, I just don’t partake or I make them go somewhere else!

  7. Matt says:

    Great points! Happiness should not be a competition. It should be an individual achievement that can only be measured by the individual. Thanks 🙂 But as Tstrump says, it can be difficult if your crowd has $ to spend and you don’t. Maybe try and find new friends? Easier said than done 🙁

  8. rosemarie says:

    I use catalog choice too and it’s worked great at reducing the catalogs (although not all the companies want to stop sending me their crap).

    I learned at an early age that I wasn’t happier with more, so this is never a problem. Although if I think I want something, I wait a day or two and see if I still want it. Chances are I don’t.

  9. David says:

    I am with you on that 100% rosemarie. Chances are that after my initial “want”, it goes away!

  10. Neal Frankle says:

    This is a fantastic and important post. I’ve found it helpful to remember what’s important to me about money. It usually never involved “things” but it always involves people. If I spend on things it impairs my ability to use it with people.

  11. Great post.

    Never head of that service. I hope it works for getting rid of previous renters catalogs.

  12. JP says:

    It sounds like the people who have blogged are getting catalogs and shopping out of them. I don’t have that kind of money. I have a job and I am scraping by. I try to avoid spending any money on anything other than my fixed costs and gas and food.

    People will always want more. It is easy to share when you feel your needs are met but when your needs/expectations are not met it is very hard for humans to think about others.

    The only secret to happiness is very low expectations.

  13. Sudeep says:

    Hey ,
    Excellent post . I have always tried to be content in what I have .The funny things is yes it some times bothers you when your friend has a blackberry and you do not . But I try to work out , is it must necessary to buy one or am I be ok with out it and it works well with me all the time .