cohdra100_0271ps2.jpgPatience is a virtue that’s lost on many people in our current state of getting so much instantly. The Internet allows us to find out news almost immediately after it breaks. People text each other from almost everywhere. Walking down the streets of NYC one sees a slew of people giving their electronic devises more attention than they do to where they’re going. Most information is just a few clicks away. So it’s no surprise that people crave more instant gratification than ever.

All this has skewed people’s views of how to be happy.

The need for material possessions is at an all-time high, which in my opinion accounts for why fewer and fewer people seem happy these day. I mean truly happy–the inside out kind that radiates from feeling steady contentment. Instead, people go after the rush of acquiring something they’ve convinced themselves they have to have. It feels great to get the new iPad or other hyped toy.

But, usually once the rush wears off, and it can wear off fast, you’re left with a need for another new toy.

Think about your possessions. Is there one you can think of that make you smile whenever you see it, that can brighten your spirit when you have a bad day, or keep feeling down at bay because you have it? I have lots of things I love but none would fit that description. While I love writing, my computer doesn’t bring a smile to my face. My clothes don’t lift my spirits if I’m in a funk, and even my bank account doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy when I need cheering up.

It’s hard to live in the glow of acquiring a new possession. It gets old fast.

Yet people chase happiness by pulling out their credit cards to buy something. Many can’t accept that contentment isn’t about instant gratification. Happiness takes the slow and steady road. When I order something I’ve wanted and it arrives, I enjoy trying it out but don’t get the same rush as I do from waking up feeling content with my life in general. After I open my package and enjoy the fun of a new purchase, the rush starts to dim. Real contentment doesn’t, because it is based on self-acceptance, faith, and love.

I had a client who was saving for the car of his dreams. He knew the model and color, down to the floor mats. Paul worked extra jobs to save for it and said it would be his dream come true. He kept saying that once he got the car his life would be happy. When the big day came he called to tell me how great he felt–like he was on a drug high but he didn’t need drugs! The next week he was still happy but not quite feeling the high of his first few days with the car.

After a few weeks, driving it was still fun but it was becoming part of his life and didn’t feel so special anymore. Then he began talking about the rims he had to buy for the car to really make it his dream car. Many accessories later, Paul still wasn’t happy. He has happiness highs when purchasing something but they wore off fast. He’s still trying to figure out why he can’t lose his need to keep chasing material possessions.

Material things and conquests can be like a drug high–for a few minutes. And like drugs, you can become addicted to buying things that excite you.

But it’s usually the thought that excites you, not the actual purchase. And when you buy it, the excitement slowly dwindles. So you need to create a new thought about something to crave to continue the rush of going after the high gotten from the purchase. Or you may be trying to have sex with someone and think that will make you happy. But once you’ve gotten it, the challenge is over. Whew! Are you following me??  

The only thing that will make you happy is to stop chasing stuff that brings you momentary gratification and spend time being loving to you.

Work on your faith! The more love you give yourself, the greater your inner contentment will be. That can help you weather the storms of life. A car or toy or great sex won’t! If you’re addicted to stuff, try to curb your habits and replace them with loving acceptance of yourself. It will keep life on an even keel as you weather problems and prioritize what’s really important for a happy life.

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