Contentment Comes from People not Things

Contentment Comes from People not Things

Every year it gets harder and harder not to fall into the trap of buying more stuff. I first published this in November, 2014 when I didn’t even have a bed, but since then my lifestyle has changed pretty dramatically. I have a fiancee, a dog, and an extra bedroom in our apartment, so going back to re-publish this post was a good reminder not to seek contentment through things.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the race to have more and more stuff. Whether you’re a tech junkie like me, a collector of glamorous shoes, a classic car buff, or an avid video gamer there is always something out there that you simply must have because (A) it exists and (B) you want it. I’m not going to get into the financial implications of purchasing things, because for plenty of people reading this, the ability to afford things isn’t the issue. The issue here is the misconception that “things” are the best way to happiness

Getting stuff actually does make you happy…temporarily…and then it wears off and you have to get more stuff to feel that rush again. This cycle never ends.

But, there’s an easy way out…

And that out is to cultivate personal relationships. Having secure relationships with people actually increases happiness and makes you not want to buy more stuff.

It’s crazy that the answer to our addiction to possessions is that simple. So, if you find yourself constantly seeking out the next thing to buy and you feel like you need to quit, here are some ways you can refocus that need into relationships that will get you longer-term happiness:

If you’re going to eat out, do it with people

Whether you eat out because you’re too lazy to cook or you just love the food, minimize the amount that you do it alone. Instead, invite a friend you don’t see often, a coworker you rarely talk to, or a neighbor who just moved in.

If you’re going to make a big purchase, invest in a social one

I don’t like buying furniture because I don’t really need it. I’m perfectly content sitting on the floor in my apartment, but I have realized that if I want people to feel comfortable coming over to visit, I do need a certain amount of it.

If you’re going to travel, don’t go alone

I love to travel. When I am looking at places to visit though, I center my plans around friends, family, or classmates who I can see along the way. Not only does it save money to stay with someone else, but it’s a lot more fun to have a local show you around a new city.

If you’re moving to a new neighborhood, join the community

Moving into a new neighborhood or a new city is often a scary experience, but it’s also a great opportunity. It’s a chance to get out there, meet new people, and join a community, so don’t let it pass you by. Get to know local shop owners, volunteer at community organizations, attend neighborhood events.

What do you do to cultivate personal relationships rather than getting more things?