Integrated Financial Training: Westchester NY

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Advice on Happiness in Consuming

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The idea that consumption can lead to happiness is not a difficult concept for most people to believe. The problem is the method whereby this occurs is precisely opposite to the naïve manner most people imagine. First let’s debunk the typical thought process. Say I like chocolate. Buying and eating chocolate should make me happy. If I showed up with a truck load of chocolate and told you to eat it in a couple of hours, would you find that enjoyable? Chocolate is a fleeting sensory form of enjoyment that can quickly turn to misery. The same idea applies to a Porsche. Great car, but I need to buy insurance, put gas in it and then watch it deteriorate. Suppose I owned a fleet of them and spend all day gassing them up….not fun.  

Again, we need to go to the idea that happiness comes from making others happy, not enhancing our own sensory desires. This is not an extreme view. We can still buy a Porsche and enjoy it while eating some chocolate. We just need to understand the limitations of these pursuits so we don’t forget to work for the happiness of others as the real source of joy. So how do we make others happy through consumption? Well, for those worried about global warming, we could probably cheer them up by finding ways to cut our greenhouse gasses. Eating less meat could reduce greenhouse gasses and probably make the animal you were going to eat breathe a sigh of relief. Moderate consumption in a very materialistic society could help set an example while also producing a higher ability for you to consume in the future. Everyone should have everything they need, but no one should have everything they want. Part of our consumption could be directed towards helping others in a charitable manner. That said, the principal that it is always better to teach someone to fish than give them fish may inform our efforts. Acting on a sincere wish to help others is far more important here than the actual gift. 

Lastly we still need to listen to our internal view of money. If it is security, we need to spend slowly. For freedom we might want to take a great vacation every year. For power we might want to save and accumulate assets so we can use them to make a positive contribution to the world. These are some ideas that could help us find a more lasting sense of peace and happiness. 






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