Monday, March 30, 2009

True Happiness Starts Here

After knitting with friends in Dallas yesterday, I headed for Half Price Books (where a large percentage of my money goes...) because I had my 50% off coupon good for Sunday only. I hit my favorite sections, crafts, fashion, art and business and found nothing. So on my way to the cookbooks (if all else failed, I knew I could find a cookbook) I hit the creativity section. (Bless Half Price Books for having a section on creativity.) I found a book titled Living Artfully - Create the Life you Imagine by Sandra Magsamen. I was drawn to the book.

On the inside flap is this quote:
"Many people today are looking outside themselves for well-being and happiness when what they're searching for has been inside them all along" - Sandra Magsamen.

I think this book speaks to one of the problems in our society today. Too many people believe that they need bigger houses, newer cars, designer labels to make them happy. In other words, they think their stuff will buy them happiness. (Another great book on happiness is What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, PhD. & Cameron Stauth who list "Trying to buy happiness" as one of the 5 happiness traps). I thought stuff would make me happy too. But after a particularly difficult 2 year period not too long ago (which I wouldn't trade for anything) I realized that stuff meant nothing. I could do without the stuff and I did.

I can afford stuff again and will splurge once in awhile but those 2 years gave me a new appreciation for the people in my life and Magsamen's book echos that sentiment. She wants us to embrace the relationships and connections that we make and the way that we make them (like putting a note in your kid's lunch with a funny joke, preparing a homemade batch of cookies for the new neighbors or making a gift instead of buying it).

Our country's current economic condition has a lot of people rethinking their lives and choices. Many are discovering or rediscovering hobbies and interests that allow them to express their creativity and connect with others. Instead of going out for dinner, they are cooking together or instead of going to the movies, they are staying in and having game night. Or instead of shopping for stuff they really don't need, they are learning a new skill while being able to express themselves.

When you think about it, most consumerism is really a passive activity. Which story is going to be laughed about for years to come - the one where you went to the chain restaurant and had the generic meal or the one where you and your friends cooked your first Thanksgiving but forget to pull the gizzard package out of the neck (think Bridget Jone's Diary blue soup fiasco)? Are your really going to connect with your kids at the movie theater as much as you would spending the same 2 hours actually interacting over a game? And what shows a person more that you care than spending your own time and talent in creating a one-of-a-kind gift for them.

Hard times suck, I know. But living is about growing and you don't grow unless you are challenged. The question is - will you accept the challenge?

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