My Neighbor Has a Vacation Home, Jet-Skis, and a Drone…He Must Be Happier Than I

Do you ever buy-in to this line of thought? I know I occasionally do; like a dumb bass I swallow it hook, line, and sinker. When I do, it is extremely damaging to my soul if I let it marinate in my brain for too long.

This thought process is implanted in our subconscious on a daily basis; maybe even an hourly basis. This is the entire premise of the current consumer marketing industry. We are directly and indirectly told that other people are happier than us, and that what we have is not enough. We don’t have enough toys, enough fun vacations, enough beauty, enough friends, enough, enough, enough…you get the point.

The mommy blogs with a spotless home; the exciting YouTube videos detailing products; the targeted ads for the new iProduct while surfing the internet; the social media posts showing a beautiful filtered picture of a moment of perfection in someone else’s lifestyle. These are all tactics used by companies to create discontent with our current life, and encourage us to spend our money in the pursuit of greater happiness. Advertisers and multinational corporations have found the secret path to happiness, and they are so graciously willing to let us join them…for a small fee.

We are told my advertisers that all we have to do is buy that extra toy, this skin care product, that fancy article of clothing, or that new car, and poof…we will be happier. And since the objective in life is to find true happiness, millions of consumers go along with what the advertisers tell us.

The funny thing is, just before we watch an advertisement, or read that mommy-blog, we may have been perfectly content and happy with our lot in life. We may not have known that our phone was outdated, or our clothes were not as stylish as they were just yesterday, or that our comfortable home was actually ridiculously uncomfortable. We were likely oblivious to how terribly unhappy we were until the marketing firm altruistically pointed it out to us. (Is sarcasm shown best in italics?)

Truthfully, if we try to find happiness in the form of an object, the majority of those purchases ultimately let us down.

The fact is, happiness is not dependent on any external factors. Plenty of people throughout the world live below our American poverty-line, and choose to be very happy. And the reverse is also true; plenty of people live extremely luxurious and opulent lifestyles, and are utterly miserable. When people are truly grateful for what they have, they will always be happy. When people only focus on what they do not have, they will always feel discontentment and then miserable.

Happiness is a choice. An internal, daily choice. We are free to choose how we feel about anything in life. Events happen all around us, some ‘good’ and some ‘bad.’ We don’t get to choose what happens in the world or in our lives, but we always get to choose our reaction to those events.

So, my neighbor has a vacation home, jet-skis, a drone, and many other expensive toys. Is he happier than I? Perhaps. But if so, it has nothing to do with his toys.

When I remember to be grateful for what I do have in my life, I can’t imagine anyone in the world being happier than I.

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