appreciation and stuff

A few weeks ago I got my first iPhone (with a white and gold polka dot case from Kate Spade) and a fancy-schmancy camera.

I felt unbelievably lucky and blessed.

For 48 hours.

After the first two days, the wonder and excitement wore off much quicker than I expected. I mean, I really wanted these things and now I had them.

But they made me happy for an insanely short amount of time.

I write a blog that is about simplifying life and exfoliating clutter. So I know very well that things don’t make us happy (in fact, they can often lead to the opposite when they aren’t intentional). Heck, I want to write a book about the concept.

Stuff does not equal happiness. I get it.

But I still hoped just a little bit that my new toys would make me blissful for at least a few months. Heck, I would have settled for just a week (or two).

Yet the glow only lasted the length of a weekend. Whah wa.

But while pondering the disappointing pleasure high, I found a seed of truth:

Stuff doesn’t make people happy. The appreciation of stuff makes people happy. 

Yep, go ahead and tweet it.

What I’ve realized is that the things themselves aren’t going to help me live happily ever after just by sitting on a shelf looking cute. Only by actively being grateful and appreciating the things that I have, will I reap an unending supply of warm and fuzzies. The simple act of appreciating in my mind causes the spike I am seeking. Not the things themselves.

This is fantastic news because not only does this mean that I can get pleasure from appreciating my new tech tools, I can also get pleasure from all of the other things I have and love that have been around here for much longer.

And in general, I don’t need to constantly get new things to make myself happy. I just need to make sure I don’t take the blessings in my life for granted to begin with.

I know this isn’t rocket science, and people talk about appreciating people and relationships all the time. I just never really recognized that it applies to stuff as well and that the actual happiness is coming from the act of appreciating itself, not the object or person in question.


This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. i got a canon for christmas! while it’s still giving me joy everytime i see it, you’re totally right that an inanimate object can’t keep us happy. p.s. opened from google reader for the first time in a while and loving the new picture/intro sidebar!

  2. Susan

    I totally understand where you’re coming from with this Jess. We do take things for granted until we remember who gave them to us, or how hard we worked to deserve them. Thanks for helping us all put things into perspective!

  3. And just to encourage you a little… I think you’re going to just fall in love with your iphone and camera over the coming months and years as you start looking back and realize the moments and memories that REALLY matter most were captured and frozen well because you had them!! 🙂 I can’t imagine being a mommy without my iphone and instagram because it’s those little tiny moments that take my breath away when I look back through the 600+ instagrams I’ve taken. 🙂 If you get on Instagram…. come find me!!! “casey chappell =@caseychappell ” Happy New year Friend!!! 🙂

  4. OMG, I actually just tweeted that line before I read the line after it. Wow. I feel lame now.

    But seriously, that really is a gem.

    There are so many things that this can apply to. For example: having a husband/boyfriend/partner doesn’t necessarily make you happy, but appreciating the good things, the fun times, the little things will make you happy that you have him.

  5. Jenn

    Totally agree. Even with intentional purchses, once acquired I often find myself thinking about the next “want” before I’ve even stopped to enjoy the one I have. This was a good reminder to enjoy and be grateful for what we have.

  6. Lol. I totally agree. I am presently trying to decide between an iPhone and a Blackberry Bold…I am so excited, but after reading this I am going to be aware of how long it last. 🙂

    How did you decide on a Canon? I am thinking of getting a camera this year too.

  7. Andrea

    Well I always appreciate your posts and insight. You’ve given me lots to think about over the years. I think you’ll be putting both you gifts to great use in the coming months.

  8. Anja

    I can partly relate to the excitement part wearing off. It often happens with me and things that I bought, but that I don’t need every day. Then they kind of slip my mind. Only exception has been my Canon. I got it exactly one year ago for Christmas and my B-Day and still am so grateful for it every day. It has been THE best gift ever and it feels good to work with it. I think also stuff that you had to work really hard for keeps the high up longer. I had to wait for the camera for several years, so maybe thats a reason I am still loving it.

  9. i have been enjoying the mantra: “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” to help me remember it is all about getting the most out of the things that I have, instead of always looking forward to the stuff if want… because taking things for granted is a common pitfall in our instant gratification/need-to-have-it-now world
    thanks for yet again helping me to figure out what I am thinking in my head but am unable to vocalize!

  10. I don’t usually comment, but I had to on this one. This is so true and you worded it so eloquently!

  11. Kelley

    This happened to me today! I got something that I had wanted for a long time. I put it up on the wall, admired it and…went back to my life. The “high” of acquiring a new item passes so quickly. Why is that so hard to learn?

  12. Jess

    Katelyn, thanks so much!

    Casey, that is so true! Right now I’m more in the mode of learning the camera than appreciating the gift it give later on. : ) Thanks for the reminder!

    Joanna – too funny!!

    AdeOla, I picked Canon because it simply felt better in my hands and my friend had a great 50mm lens for it that she sold me. But I feel happy with my choice. I’ve heard Nikon or Canon are both great.

    Anja, I think you are totally right!

    Jessica S, so true!!

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