• Anita Chastain

Advertisers Are Fooling Us About Happiness

Updated: Feb 8

Happiness exists but it's rarely packaged with a bar code.

Advertising tells us that we're only one product away from a better state of being. All we need to do is buy this razor or rug or eat at this restaurant and we'll be happier and life will improve almost instantly.

It would be great if life actually worked this way, but it doesn't.

Here's what usually happens: you buy and buy and buy, but you're never fully satisfied. You appreciate the convenience, or ease, or relief that a product brings right now.

The product might even make you happier for a few days or weeks or months.

Then you find you're back where you started - dissatisfied on some level and ready to buy more.

It's Experiences, Not Products, That Make You Happy

Think about the new car you bought or your new tv or cell phone. Buying it made you happy.

Six months later are you still as excited and happy as you were on the day you bought it? Probably not.

Now think about a really great experience you had. Maybe it was a vacation or weekend trip. Or maybe you went for a long run early one morning or cooked out with family and friends.

Do those events make you feel happy, even years later? Probably so.

After the excitement of a purchase fades, it doesn't have much of an emotional impact good or bad.

That's the problem with looking for happiness in the stuff you buy. The happiness of owning the item is often shortlived.

True Happiness Isn't Mass Produced in a Factory

Advertising tells you that you will never have enough of anything. This message is reinforced through a steady stream of ads encouraging you to buy. (Experts estimate that we see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads a day.)

Ads appear on tv, on websites and social media accounts, in magazines and newspapers, on billboards, in junk mail, and on buses and trains. They're everywhere.

Their messages seep into your brain and influence how you feel about yourself and your buying decision.

The (usually) unstated message behind these messages is this: The status quo isn't good enough. You need this or that product or service to be happy, healthy, successful, or attractive.

And that just isn't true.

Long-term happiness isn't pulled from a box, poured out of a bottle, or hung on a rack or wall. It doesn't come with a bar code.

Happiness can't be weighed. You can't package it in a box. You can't put a ribbon on it or return it with a receipt.

The Foundation of True Happiness

It's not what you own that makes you happy. It's a combination of your life experiences and mindset.

Choose products for the convenience or comfort or ease they bring to your life. But, if you're looking for lasting happiness, choose experiences over physical objects, the present over the past, and gratitude over resentment.

True and lasting happiness doesn't require a bar code.

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