We all naturally seek more happiness in our lives. I suppose you could say that life and living is really a struggle for pleasure; where most organisms seem to seek pleasure and stay away from pain. We to tend to classify what we consider to be good as pleasure and what we consider to be bad as pain. It is the case then that we seek happiness because happiness usually means that we are accomplishing what we want, and getting the things that we desire from life.
In our modern consumer age most of the things that bring us happiness tend to be things that we buy. It is also the case that we qualify these material things through price, where things that are more expensive, are supposedly higher quality, and therefore tend to bring us more happiness. Basically the more expensive the thing is that happier it tends to make us. This does skew our definition of happiness, where we believe that the only way to truly be happy is to be very wealthy. To a great extent this is a delusion created by our consumer society, by a market that is interested in getting us to purchase as much as possible for the highest price.
Most of the things that we want then are expensive. We all believe that true happiness comes by being a millionaire and being able to afford giant villas and drive incredibly expensive cars. This consumer front, propagated by corporate greed, has even skewed our personal relations. It is a well-known fact, expounded by consumer propaganda, that the best way to show your love to a woman is to buy her an expensive diamond. Children and adults tend to judge their status, and therefore their happiness, by the kind of goods that they have access to. If you have the most expensive cell phone and are wearing top-of-the-line shoes then you are happy, because as we are all told, this is the epitome of status, freedom, and personal power.
It must be understood though that even the rich are not happy if they do not understand what true happiness is all about. Tabloids are full of stories about the troubles and hardships of the very rich and famous. Their money does not insulate them from relationship problems, self-esteem problems, and the desire to be truly loved. Wealth is therefore no assurance of happiness; it might relieve some problems and make some things a lot easier but it also serves to create new problems.
True happiness then cannot be bought, it must be found through other means. I am not saying that you should stop trying to become wealthy, or that you should give up on your dreams. What I’m trying to say here is that while wealthy is a good thing and can provide many of the things that you might want in your life, in order to be truly happy you must look beyond money and prestige.
True happiness, as Nietzsche said, comes from power. To be more precise happiness comes from a feeling of personal power, it comes from a feeling of freedom, and from not feeling powerlessness. The best way to attain this kind of happiness is to become more yourself; by paying attention to your own needs and by always trying to grow as much as possible as an individual. The world in general does not like individuals; the world loves to impress upon you the need for you to conform to the herd and the safety that can be found in just being one of the crowd. Personal power then is developed through the personal awareness needed to identify your own needs and desires, and through the courage needed to implement whatever is required in order to do what you want. When you’re being truly yourself, you will feel happy; this kind happiness cannot be bought, and while you can gain some confidence through wealth, this kind of internal power can only be attained through personal growth and personal perseverance.
Once you have the personal power spoken of above, you will be free. Free to experience fully all the love, laughter, and passions in your life. Freedom from external influence and strong enough to pursue your ideals. You can then create the freedom that you need in order to truly begin to experience your life. You can’t buy happiness, but you can develop it through personal growth.