Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Musings: On Happiness and Shopping

Does anyone else spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about what they would do if they suddenly had an endless disposable income? It occupies a great deal of my brain power. What a silly thing to think about! I know that I should be thinking about how to end hunger, or get clean water to rural third world villages, or why there is suffering in the world, or how one person can make a difference, but, and here we are moving into confessional territory, I think a great deal about what I'd like to buy.  And, yes, my family chastises me for this tendency regularly, so I am well aware of my issues.

I defend this proclivity to myself by saying that I appreciate beauty, and because of my deep aesthetic sensibility, I must think of decking out myself and my home in beautiful things...it's the artist in me, or something like that. So, I was wandering around over the weekend thinking of what I would want to buy if some money were dropped into my lap, and I decided to make it a feature this week. I will have three price points and various and sundry items that would, theoretically, satisfy my urge to shop (although everyone knows it does not work like that because buying one things simply begets a desire to buy more things.)

I watched a movie last week entitled Project Happiness. The film has become an educational initiative, so I am quite sure that most of you will never see it. It isn't a "get some popcorn and a gallon of soda and get ready for some laughs" kind of film. It talks about the nature of happiness and includes perspectives from people all over the world, including the Dali Lama. One of the moments in the film that stuck with me occurred during an interview with George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars. He explains that his theory of happiness is that there are two aspects to it: pleasure and joy. Pleasure occurs when we are the recipients of something. Shopping would fit in here...intimacy...receiving gifts. These things do make us happy, but the feeling of happiness is not sustained. It is temporary and particularly marked by being needed to be constantly supplemented. Like a drug, you are always chasing that first high. Joy, on the other hand, occurs when we do things that are self-less or that create benefit that is not solely personal, and that kind of happiness is the lasting kind.  His perfect analogy is that there is nothing more pleasureable than creating children and nothing more joyful than raising them. I wholeheartedly believe George Lucas's theory. And, (because at my last job I was told to always frame statements as "yes...and" instead of "yes...but") I still can't quit you, J. Crew. I wish I knew how to quit you.

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