Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Consuming For Happiness

I was reading Gretchin Rubin's book the Happiness Project yesterday at the gym and found myself pondering the question, as she does, "Does money buy happiness?"  Rubin concludes that having money does not mean you are happy, but having it can certainly help you achieve it.  I think that is a wise perception, and it turns a lot of people off, because it suggests that we are perhaps embracing material items over things like love and natural beauty and personal development.  However, if spent consciously, money can be used to support all those things.  And we don't really mean wealth, we're talking about being aware of what makes you happy and what you are buying for superficial reasons. I highly recommend the book, and invite you check out Rubin's blog.
Let's take my luxurious image of me on a treadmill, in an air conditioned gym, reading The Happiness Project on my Nook.  I shelled out money for the privilege of being at the gym and for the Nook.
A lot of people, especially environmentalists, would argue that the gym is a scam, full completely overpriced machines that don't really work out your muscles appropriately and it's full of people who are obsessed with their looks more than their health.  An honestly, I agree with these ideas. However, being able to be stationary while exercising so that I can read on a flat, easy to manage apparatus is really the best motivation to get me to exercise at all. So, knowing who I am, I am buying the perfect environment for me to stay healthy. 
This idea is a direct Pillar of Conscious Consuming.  Spending money that support our desired lifestyle, even in small ways like spending the extra couple of bucks for grass fed beef, yoga classes, knitting yarn or books, makes you more aware of where your money goes and brings us the most possible satisfaction.  It is important, however, to be honest with yourself and do not let these fleeting desires you pick up from media or marketing drive your ideas about where to spend money.  Elizabeth Gilbert discusses this syndrome in Eat, Pray, Love when she realizes she is not the silent, peaceful, ethereal apparition gliding quietly around the temple in solace after all, and decides to embrace her naturally bubbly social demeanor. The point is, sometimes things you admire are not in sync with your personality, and its good to be in touch with that, otherwise you are left looking at your pile of abandoned craft projects wondering why you spent all that money on supplies that never get used.
Please comment on purchases that contribute to your happiness, I'd be interested to know!


  1. In regards to consuming, I like to think of purchasing consumer products as a relationship. When I consume something, whether I need or want it, I think of the other side of the relationship. How did the person make the product? Did they ethically produce the product? Are workers fairly compensated? Then I think about how the money that is going to the other party is going to be used. Is it going towards enriching a corporate fat cat or is it going towards workers who will use it to further engage in ethical relationships/transactions? When I feel good about "relationship" when consuming goods, I feel good, even if I am going to pay more. I really enjoy your blogs.

  2. I love your mixed, yet real feelings on the gym. That is how I feel about giving my money to Nordstrom. As for Nic's perspective on feeling good about a relationship, I get the warm fuzzies when I give my money to Chipotle.