I’m currently writing an article about whether or not we can buy happiness and love. At first glance, the concept seems a little strange. Can I really go to the nearest mall, slap down a few greenbacks, and walk out with happiness in my pocket and love in my handbag?
When I was a little girl growing up in sunny California, there was this one tree with leggy branches, and peeling bark. The leaves on this tree were the exact split combination of silver and forest green. My parents told me that it was called a Money Tree, and I thought we were rich! Who said, “Money doesn’t grow on trees?”
Now that I’m a little older (ok, a lot older!), I’m convinced that money buys choices, not happiness or love. I can choose to buy those really funky bejeweled sandals, or the practical non-bejeweled walking shoes. I can choose the trendy, everybody-has-to-have-it $350 Coach handbag , or I can choose to buy a non-label purse and settle for function.
The interesting thing here, is that happiness and love are the two most sought-after emotions, and we typically do go hunting for them with money. I think we’ve seen a bit of this regarding our current economic woes. We reason that we’ll be “happy” if we can just have that thing. We think “love” will knock on our door if we’ve covered ourselves in the latest trends, and topped it off with properly coiffed hair.
Our brains are wired to solve these economic problems. If I find something I want (which is often!), my brain will try to figure out how to get it. I can charge it, sell something else to get it and so on. Once my brain and I have come to a solution, I have my “want” in hand and feel like I’ve just conquered a problem-solving dilemma. I also have a little happiness and love in my heart, which lasts temporarily until the credit card bill comes. And so it goes.
What if we convince ourselves we already have the money to buy the “thing?” The actual, tangible desire of our hearts at the moment. If I “knew” I could afford to buy that new car, my brain wouldn’t go into problem-solving mode, it would go into reasoning mode. I would now start asking, “Should I buy this new car?” or “Does it make sense to buy this car?” I would no longer accept a ridiculous price tag just to have it, and ask, “Is this a good price?”
I have yet to adopt this line of thinking, and hope I can trick my brain into playing along. As for happiness and love, I will tuck them in my heart and not go looking for them at the local mall. Although I do have a 30% off coupon at Guess! Oh, dear.