The Buying Happiness Disorder

What is real happiness?  Why are so many people sad when their whole lives seem to be focused on achieving happiness?  Is it human nature to be happy or sad? Does lasting happiness come from achievement and success? If so, why do so many successful people look so glum? And why are there so many troubles in the world today? We need good answers to these questions?


The truth is that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who seek happiness and there are people who do their best to be happy and with what they have. The first group will never be happy. They are so future-oriented that they can’t enjoy the steak that they’re eating right now.  The second group are the happiest people in the world! They are making the best of what they have right now. The first group of people are in a constant state of “need”. They almost constantly feel that they are missing out if they don’t have the object of their present desire. They think: “How will I be able to live without that thing? I must have it!” and the more that they harbor this fallacy, the more they believe it.  “I need a new sofa and dining room set. I just can’t entertain guests anymore with these old beat-up dining room chairs.” “The neighbor has such a pretty garden. Let’s run to the store and buy more stuff to make our garden better.”




Is there anything wrong with wanting to have a pretty garden? No.  There’s nothing wrong with buying a new sofa either. The problem is how people buy this stuff.  There’s no problem if they buy it because they PREFER to have it. The problem is when they feel that they MUST immediately have the object of their desire in order to fill up a gnawing feeling of emptiness that they have inside themselves. The problem is in believing that they absolutely must have these things in order to be happy.  The problem is living in a compulsive state of need and urge to acquire because they feel that they lack something.


Our Sages say it is the natural state of man to be happy and that he lacks nothing.  This means that if man were to live his life without being exposed to all the wonderful enticements of the world, and not be made to feel that he MUST have them to be happy, he would be perfectly happy.  Man’s unhappiness only comes when there is something that obstructs and interferes with his nature, which is to be happy with what he has no matter what.

But when a person’s eyes see something glorious – a breath-taking three-story villa overlooking the sea, and he realizes that he doesn’t have it yet (even if he can afford it), it uproots and robs him of the present peace and happiness in his soul. 


Think about it. If the Creator of the world testifies that everything He made is “very good” (which includes YOU!), do you think there is anything in the material world that can satisfy you more than living in harmony with yourself? Do you really believe that the deepest satisfaction can come from something outside of yourself? If someone offered you a whole shopping mall full of stuff in exchange for tuning yourself out and not appreciating what you presently have would you take that deal?


When people see something beautiful and say, “How can I live without it?” they are running away from the greatest possession they have– themselves. Where can you find maximum happiness? It’s very close to home. It’s as natural as sitting in your own living room or out on your own porch.


The next time you feel that you MUST have something, close your eyes and say: “I don’t need this thing…I’ll be better off without it…I’ll be more complete without it. I’ve managed just fine without it until now. If the Creator really wants me to have it, it will come to me at the right time.”


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© 2020 Zev Ballen, Psy.D, LCSW