Buying Happiness (versus Giving Happiness)

When we were young, people rewarded us for accomplishments. Candy for chores, toys for good grades, etc. As we got older, we came to understand rewards as a part of transactions. I do for you, you do for me. Even on birthdays, gifts have lost much of their appeal because we essentially expect them (or, at least, we’re not at all surprised). And as we start earning and spending our own money, the things we “reward” ourselves with do not satisfy the same level of appeal as, say, winning the lottery by accident.

It is extremely difficult to find joy in something you expect. If you think you deserve it, there is little room for appreciation. And if you know it should be coming, there is little room for surprise. Pure joy lies in the moments in life where fortune smiles down on us and we have no idea why. Therefore, happiness comes from giving and receiving gifts. Receive something unexpectedly or surprise another with a moment of joy, and you will feel great. Spontaneity is key. Transactions are not gifts, so taking a paycheck for work and buying a fancy new toy for yourself is not happiness. You cannot buy your own happiness in this way.

Give a gift today for no reason. Watch what happens.