On Happiness

One way to seek happiness is through shopping. Consuming your way to nirvana. Spending, gorging, and bling bling’n ‘til your heart's content. When one is regularly moving toward pleasure and away from pain through greed and gluttony one is practicing hedonism.

Another way to seek happiness is to avoid anything painful or laborious. Run, flee, skedaddle from challenges or difficulties. Anything that might promise exertion, avoid at all costs. Or as Bob Marley said, “Don't rock my boat, I don't want my boat to be rock’n.”

But there is a third alternative to consider. Acceptance. With acceptance you don't try to buy your way out of your constriction and you don't dawn your track shoes and start running. When you accept your situation, it doesn't mean you like it or that you don't do anything about it. If you can avoid either of the first two choices, and give yourself a chance to accept your situation, you can begin to change it. You don’t waste your precious resources by running down dead ends.

I’m not suggesting a leap to acceptance to avoid your feelings. Feel your outrage. Experience your internal protest, emotional riot, and meltdown. Don’t fight it. Expect it. Get in touch with your suffering. To experience your suffering fully is a form of compassion. The word "compassion" literally means to sit with suffering. Through self-acceptance you can begin to heal yourself, which leads to happiness. Acceptance is the key.

There are times when buying things will provide some superficial happiness. And other times when avoidance will be useful. My warning to you is, don’t take yourself hostage by using spending or avoidance habitually. Be aware that when you’re purchasing you could be fleeing your feelings, and when you're fleeing your feelings you could be purchasing some future misery. Whenever you try to fix the human condition by using consumerism and avoidance unconsciously you can end up worse off without knowing it until you're out of money and exhausted.

A lot can be gained from people who practice 12-Step recovery. They've learned to accept and avoid using anything addictive one day at a time. That approach provides many of them with a great deal of happiness.

You can try to buy happiness. You can try and run from problems.  Acceptance offers a third alternative.