"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can Happiness Be Bought?

I'm not much of a television watcher and my local Christian radio station doesn't play commercials, so I've been away from the majority of advertisements for several years now. Yesterday I set out to paint my boys' bedroom. They picked two shades of blue and I looked forward to surprising them when they got off the bus that afternoon. I tuned the radio to a country station and turned up the volume. I love to sing at the top of my lungs when I'm alone in the house. I picked up my paintbrush, dipped it in smooth blue paint, and set out on what would be a four hour journey.

I sang. I prayed. I thought about what the kids would say when they got home. I squealed when I accidentally knocked the roller against the ceiling. And I listened to commercials. The same ones, over and over. I don't know if it was the paint fumes or the informed voices that caught me up in a quiet, contemplative state, but those advertisements succeeded in capturing my attention.

So, in the four-plus hours I listened to the radio, I discovered what is important to our culture. Food. Coffee. Cars. Sex. Medication. Entertainment.

Each commercial was trying to prove something: we can be happier if we buy the product they advertised. Now I know many of you reading this would tell me this is nothing new, but yesterday it was new--to me. I'd blocked it for so long that the self-absorbed, material personality of our culture shocked me a bit. I thought about all the starving children in the world and I felt guilty for thinking so much about material things, things that do not matter to my survival.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think any of these things in themselves are bad. But I do think it's easier than we think to fall prey to the mighty advertising voices. So what I'm wondering is...can happiness be bought?

My husband and I are renovating our house. Lots of money is going into this endeavor and in the end, yes, I believe I will be happier with my home. I bought a bagel at Dunkin' Donuts the other day. Cinnamon-raisin with cream cheese. Mmmmmm. Yup, it made me happy.

This has to be wrong. Or there has to be a line. But where is it? What do you think? Can happiness be bought?


  1. Hi Heidi!

    Love your Blog and this post!! I believe that happiness is more or less a temporary state, therefore it quite possibly can be bought. Whereas underlying JOY can be more lasting...I wrote about underlying joy on my Blog, would love for you to check it out http://tdeniseclarybooks.blogspot.com/search/label/Being%20Joyful

    T Denise Clary :-)

  2. EVERLASTING happiness can't be bought, but we do get caught up in thinking that way sometimes. I think baby boomers to toddlers are taught that we need the biggest and the best--whoever dies with the most toys wins. Ah, no. It is frustrating sometimes, and not to sound cynical, but don't we all have our price? Don't we all have something we think will bring us that happiness we crave? Having things isn't the problem. It's where we put our focus. :-)