What Makes Me Happy?

“I know I’ve made it because I have a two-story foyer.”

My friend was thrilled about his new house.

He had no idea that he’d divorce his wife and become estranged from his son less than a decade later.

How many times can we hear, read, watch or live messages that tell us material things won’t make us happy? How long will it take before we realize that, once we have the basics covered, more stuff doesn’t increase happiness.

New York Times columnist David Brooks emphasized this point on the Conversations with Tyler podcast, “I often see money being used to buy loneliness.” In similar story to my friend’s, Brook told of how he believed he’d made it after moving to the suburbs and installing a garage door opener — with an in-car remote!

Now he could conveniently access his home after commuting for hours!

I spoke with Dr. Ashley Whillans, an expert on using time better to make us happier. She called living within walking distance of work her “non-negotiable.” (Podcaster Debbie Millman coined this useful phrase to describe one’s essential life objective.)

One wish I hold for my daughters is they don’t succumb to the rampant consumerism that pervades society. I try to set a minimalist (or essentialist) example, though only time will tell.

When my birthday comes, I follow my father’s example (thanks, Dad!) and tell them that I want a handmade birthday card.

I’m pleased to report they listened.

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