I must confess. Over the last weeks, I have been in through what we may call a shopping frenzy. It’s as if all of a sudden I had realized that I was no longer a student (even if I feel like I’ll never be done with school) and that the place I go every week day to do some stuff actually gives me money. You know when the number in your bank account goes up? Yes, a pay check as they call it, although it seems so virtual these days as it comes in and goes out I don’t know if we can still call it money. Call it whatever you want, the point is I have discovered that I had some, and that I could buy things with it.
So I did. Books, pencils, jewelry, clothes, shoes. I didn’t even had to swipe my card most of the time, as most of this shopping was done through the online magic of PayPal. As I am usually quite frugal and very reasonable, it was actually a good thing for me to start spending a bit more on myself, and it gave me the opportunity to let go of very old stuff I didn’t want anymore and replace it with a more appropriate alternative. After all, I do have to get dressed to go to that place that gives me money.
Can I have it all?
Despite that new possibility of spending money, I kept my old habit of going to the library. Last Friday night, I went in to borrow some books in order to spend a exquisite and exciting evening. I got lucky: it was a successful harvest. I found books about chakras and pranayama and becoming the best version of yourself, three things I really want to learn about. As soon as I got home, I sat down on my couch, surrounded by those wonders.
Usually I would have simply enjoyed the moment, fulfilled and happy to discover my new friends. But this time was different. I suddenly felt the trigger to own these precious containers of knowledge. I made the plan to buy them the very next day on Amazon. I had to have them with me for the rest of my life.
Money doesn’t buy happiness but…
How come? If money doesn’t buy happiness, it surely buys something else, otherwise I wouldn’t have felt this urge to keep on spending. So I started reflecting about the pleasure I have been feeling as I have been purchasing all this material recently.
Here’s what I found out. First there is this trigger, this strong desire that appears. It feels like a need: you cannot keep moving on without that thing. If you do yield to the temptation, then you feel a joyful release of tension. You are reassured, comforted.
How come buying a necklace makes you feel reassured? What I discovered as I went through the process again and again is we are buying more than an object: we are purchasing some meaning, a feeling, an emotion.
When I’m buying lululemon leggings, I’m falling into the trap of branding. I feel privileged. I am part of a community of beautiful young pals and gals who laugh out loud as they drink their Kombucha after a vinyasa practice. I am no longer alone.
When I buy a book, I am buying the possibility of gaining all that knowledge, holding it tightly, keeping it close to me. Even if I don’t read it yet, I know I can refer to it anytime I want as it sits there, waiting for me.
When I ask over and over my boyfriend for that special ring, I am hoping one day he will ask me to be his forever and ever, in joy and sadness, in health and sickness, through sorrow and success.
The way out of material desires
When I don’t have those, I need to work harder to feel reassured, confident, strong. I can’t count on some pants to make me feel pretty, I can’t count on my bookshelves to make me feel wise, I can’t count on a ring to make me feel appreciated. Clothes, books, rings all serve as reminders that we are smart, beautiful, loved.
It’s true: money doesn’t buy happiness. It does though strengthen that connection between what we feel inside and the outside world. It enhances some positive feelings we are looking for.
However, when we do resist the shortcut, eventually it pays off. We no longer need those material possessions to feel good. We learn to feel gorgeous no matter what we are wearing, to feel smart because of the wisdom of our heart and not only what we can remember in our conscious mind, to feel unique and cherished for who we are, unconditionally.
So if you are a big spender, you know what to do. Let go of that credit card and start to truly own your life.