Why do we think we can buy happiness?
This month, our questions are all about stuff. As a society, we seem to be accumulating a lot of stuff; in our homes, in our cars, in the landfills.
We hear from parents that their kids don’t put stuff away or that there is too much stuff around to tidy up at the end of the day. We hear that they are constantly buying the latest thing for their kids – new clothes, technology, toys, etc.
When we ask why they are buying these things, we hear:
“It will make her happy.”
“He really wanted it.”
“She loves these gifts.”
“It was a reward for his chart.”
The first tough question for February is:
Why do we think that we can buy happiness?
Focusing on the external things might carry our kids for a short time but just like an excuse it stops us from facing the underlying fear or discontent. In order to find (and teach) true joy, we need to slow down, become aware and connect with our kids.
In a recent article, Deepak Chopra noted that it is
“Four intangibles which really bring people happiness:
Attention is deep listening. When we give our attention, we are completely present and open as we focus on understanding another person’s perspective – even when we don’t agree with it. We don’t give advice (unless the other person directly asks for it) and we don’t interrupt or try to get someone to hurry up and “get to the point.”
Simply by listening attentively to someone, we are actually helping to calm their brain and reduce their stress, which has many benefits for physical and emotional well-being.
Appreciation is letting someone know that you value them and are grateful they are in your life. You notice the qualities you love about a person and share your appreciation for who they are, their unique gifts, and the ways in which their presence and actions creates more peace, joy, and fun in your life.
Affection is deep caring. We express our affection through our words, physical touch, and other actions, letting someone know that we are there for them. Loving touch is particularly vital to health and happiness. It releases a shower of natural pain-relieving and mood-elevating chemicals throughout the body, calming the mind’s busy chatter and promoting feelings of safety, comfort, and relaxation. While technology allows us to see and hear each other from a distance, it can’t create the true connection and fulfillment that comes from loving touch.
One of the deepest human needs is acceptance . . . that feeling of being completely seen and accepted, even with all of our weaknesses, inconsistencies, and shortcomings. We can cultivate the ability to accept both ourselves and others exactly as they are.”
This week: Consider which of these four gifts you will share with your family members. Notice their reactions as you share attention, appreciation, affection and acceptance.