By Lisa Cypers Kamen.
We’ve all heard it before: “Money can’t buy you love or happiness or satisfaction.” Yet for some reason, these words of wisdom are particularly easy to forget. We focus on money and possessions. As we desperately seek joy from these external sources, we feel more tired, more depleted, and oftentimes more depressed than ever.
The truth is, joy is not something that can be bought or sold. It isn’t available in stores or even on Amazon.com (which seems to have almost everything these days). Instead, true joy stems from the one place no advertiser can paste its logo: inside you.
Many studies examining the relationship between money and happiness have proven that one is not necessarily dependent upon the other. In fact, after evaluating the 2010 Gallup Health-ways Well-being index, a Princeton University research team recently concluded that, amongst other things, happiness is based on life evaluation and well-being. Interestingly, the study found that “research suggests that wealthy people don’t take as much pleasure in actual pleasure as do poor people. In one test, social researchers primed some test subjects to feel rich and found that the ‘wealthy’ subjects didn’t enjoy luxury chocolate as much as the control group, the ‘non-wealthy,’ did.”
So take some time to focus on what you do have and just pause and be grateful. By focusing on the beauty in your life, health, peace of mind, family and friends, you’ll attain the very things we all spend countless dollars and hours fruitlessly looking for in shops: joy and contentment.
Throughout the year, we are pressed to find perfect gifts, whether it be for Christmas and Chanukah or a birthday or graduation present. Interestingly, most of us search for these gifts in department stores and online. The problem with a physical gift is that the moment you give it, the experience for you, the giver, is over. In contrast, giving the gift of a shared experience, whether it be an I.O.U. for a day of gardening or a hot air balloon ride, is a gift both the giver and the receiver will enjoy.
Not only that, a shared experience is one that allows you to focus on your feelings and relationship with that person and allows you to truly express your gratitude for him or her, rather than merely packaging your gratitude in the form of a disposable object. As you connect with a friend, colleague or loved one through the gift of a shared experience, you will both experience true internal joy, which is far being the fleeting pleasure brought on by a material gift.