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The Pursuit Of Happiness

2 Minute Read

Too bad happiness can't be bottled up and sold. Because there are plenty of people out there thinking it can be bought.

A new study out by two professors at the University of Missouri finds that people who usually go far into debt did so because they wrongly thought they'd have "unreasonable degrees of change in their lives from their purchases."

In other words, they thought stuff would make them happy. It didn't. And they found out the hard way: by running up a huge tab that will follow them around for years.

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Those unrealistic expectations, according to the study, fell into four categories. People believed having more stuff would:

  • Make them a better person (more self-confidence)
  • Get others to like them more
  • Make them more fun
  • Make them more effective

Buying stuff isn't necessary for any of those. Making up your mind to do them is.

Quick note: The survey also found unrealistic expectations are much less present in people who don't have debt problems. These people know spending isn't the way to have a content heart.

Having stuff is fun, but that doesn't equal happiness. Fun is like a balloon pop—one burst of air and then it's gone. Happiness is like the air you breathe—a genuine feeling of contentment. It's a mindset, and it stays with you.

Do you really want to buy a $500 suit just to get a few compliments at your next meeting? You'll be paying for the outfit for months, but the "nice suit" props will be over before the end of the day. How can you honestly say that is worth it?

Material possessions won't bring you happiness. As soon as the thrill of a new suit wears off, you'll try to fill the hole it leaves with a vacation. When that's gone, you might go for a car or a house. Each time, you'll be more upset that you can't find sustainable happiness, and you'll buy something bigger, only to be disappointed again. You see the pattern here.

Don't place your hope for happiness in something that won't fulfill it.

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