Tag Archives: happiness

Artificial Happiness

I chose the below TED Talk to complete an assignment for my business ethics class.  It really resonated with me – while I’m not the most materialistic person out there, I do place more value than most people do in frivolous things.  For example, when I lost my iPhone in Mexico, instead of just buying an inexpensive temporary phone, I paid for a new iPhone 5S at retail.  It is kind of ridiculous, but I really have gotten a lot better, I promise!

I particularly have a problem with spending ridiculous amounts of money on clothes.  A few weeks ago, a good friend of Brian’s mentioned that he bought everything from Costco, including all of his clothes.  I didn’t mean to react in a way that implied a distaste for his choice in fashion, but he could tell by my expression that I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of shopping for clothes at Costco.  As an experiment, he brought two shirts out to me and told me to pick out the one that was from Costco.  After I looked at them both closely, examining the material and the buttons carefully, I made a choice and he proudly said, “They’re both from Costco.”

After this experience, I thought hard about how I came to be such a superficial brat.  I mean, I work hard for my money, and I felt that I deserved to “treat myself”.  But I was definitely going over the top: I realized I was paying $150 minimum every six weeks for a haircut.  I was wearing $250 shoes that gave me the same amount of utility as another $15 pair I had at home.  But other than the price I’m paying for these silly things, what else am I getting?

Everyday, I receive at least one compliment on my hair.  I’m not even kidding – after I started going to Heather at Image Studios, people have constantly told me that my hair is always perfect and that I have a beautiful, sophisticated, classic look.  The same thing happens with my shoes – many people start conversations by just talking about my shoes and how they wish they could buy some.  But is this really all that I’m spending so much money for?  Why do I care so much… Life isn’t a damn competition!  I guess just wearing designer made me feel better about myself.  I just felt happier knowing that I was wearing an outfit worth over $1,000, even if no one else could tell.

My boyfriend is the exact opposite of me.  He pays $10 for his haircuts, and his favorite pair of boat shoes only costed him $15.  He would not be able to tell if I were wearing G-Star denim or Forever 21 denim, or if I were wearing Tory Burch perfume or a Victoria’s Secret fragrance.

Luckily, this attribute kind of rubbed off on me.  And guess what happened?  I bought a coral maxi dress from Amazon.com for $28 to wear to a wedding.  And I got more compliments on that dress than I ever have on my $300 dress from Club Monaco.

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This is such a simple concept for many people to understand, but for some reason I struggled with it.  Paying more for my clothes seriously made me happy – I just felt better wearing clothes I knew were made in America, or that were made of real silk.  But seeing that I was able to spend a fraction that I would normally spend on a dress I’d wear to a WEDDING of all places, and still feel just as pretty as I would in a more expensive dress, really opened my eyes, and advancing my resolve to overcome my addiction to unnecessary spending.

Following is the TED talk where Benjamin Wallace walks through The Price of Happiness.  It’s a great presentation, and it really puts the concept of conspicuous consumption into perspective. 🙂

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The Art of Happiness

This year has been so impactful on my overall outlook on life, understanding of love, & definition of success.

One of the things I wish I could change about myself is how I’m constantly over analyzing and trying to make sense of things. I wish I could just roll with the punches, take things one step at a time, and be happy with what I have. Instead, I’m always trying to think in the long-term, yet a lot of the choices I end up making yield short-term returns.

I’m good at a lot of things, but one of the things I’m really bad at is taking charge of my own happiness. I think it’s because finding happiness isn’t a skill – it’s an art. It takes real creativity to see the beauty in everything and to realize the positive side to any situation. If everyone thought logically, no one would be completely content. We are all going to have goals – even once you reach a certain point, you’ll still want more. There will always be something missing. The important part is that you realize where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. Being happy is a choice, not something that comes naturally.

The other day, a friend of mine told me something really sweet.  She said:

“Gosh Kat, you’ve worked hard as long as I’ve known you, and now you have the perfect life.  I’m so glad to see that you have a sexy, well-paying job, good relationships with your friends, and now you have the perfect boyfriend – you have everything you’ve always wanted.  You inspire me to get my act together and work toward my dreams.”

This felt really good to hear.

But while I know I am in a great place, and I have a lot to be thankful for, my life is not a fairy tale.  I may project it to be perfect, but it isn’t, because I’m not perfect either.  I’ve made plenty of selfish mistakes, hurt dozens of people, and spend a good two minutes every single day regretting some things I can no longer change – and it’s probably safe to say that I’m still paying the price for those decisions.  I just don’t share how broken I truly am because I think it’s important to always stay as positive as you can be.

Behind everyone’s success story is an equally unglamorous one.  Nothing in this world is free – the most rewarding aspects of life require lots of hard work, discipline and commitment.  The two people in a happy couple went through a lot of struggle, past failed relationships, and heartbreak to get to the point of stability and understanding where they are.  An athlete may have been born with natural talent, but also needed to make a lot of sacrifices in order to train to the level of skill they are now.  The CEO of a prosperous company could have possibly led multiple failed start-ups before finally creating something that could compete in the market.

My point is, life is life.  Realize that some people get dealt better cards than others in this game of life, but ultimately it still takes a lot of strategy, skill, and commitment to facilitate the best outcome for yourself.  You’ll have to make trade-offs and give up a lot of things you love, but just keep telling yourself that in the end it’ll be worth it.  You’ll make decisions that you’ll regret, but it’s important to accept that what’s done is done, and move on.  You’ll have times when you feel like a complete failure, but you also have to realize your self-worth and look at how much you have accomplished.

I think the people who are successful and happy are the ones who are just as proud of their accomplishments as they are of surviving hell and back to get there.  It’s important to stay humble, and remember where you came from – everyone is working as hard as you are to create their happy ending, and the degree to which you are able to accomplish your goals depends on your personal drive combined with your family and friends who make up your support system, and sometimes just pure luck.  Opportunities don’t always just fall into your lap, but when they do, don’t take them for granted.

Consistent with all my other posts, my thoughts are all over the place…  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thankful for every aspect of my life.  I wouldn’t undo any of the mistakes I’ve made over the last couple of years, and I wouldn’t take back any of the challenging times when I felt defeated, because if none of it happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  But I also wouldn’t wish the pain I felt on anyone else… Some people, like myself, just need to learn everything the hard way.

And at this point, I think I’m the best person I ever was because of it all.  I’m still working toward building my own happily ever after – I may not deserve it yet, and it’ll take me a lot more work to achieve than all the other good people out there.  But I’ll get there, because I know I’m capable of getting anything I want.  I think that’s something to be proud of. 🙂

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