Well geez, with a title like that, there are probably some pretty high expectations for this post. Buckle up! If you are wondering how to get everything you want; my first question is this: Can you actually get EVERYTHING you want in life?
So what do you want? A better job? A bigger house? A new car? You could work your butt off at your job, work your way up the ladder and get all of that stuff. It would be a lot of work and take several years, but you could do it.
Or, you could win the lottery… which would be quicker, but the odds are definitely not in your favor.
There’s a much faster way to get everything you want… although it is definitely the road less traveled.
Are you ready?
I know you may have wanted a more complex answer, but hear me out. In my own life, I’ve found that true happiness is most often found in perspective.
He’s almost 11, and he’s your typical boy of that age I suppose (although I think he’s the greatest kid in the world). He loves Minecraft, Legos, baseball, and riding his bike with his friends. He gets a small allowance from us, gift money around his birthday, and then money from watching neighbors’ pets every once in a while.
When he has money – even if he’s simply planning on having money – his heart gets completely wrapped up in his plans to buy the next toy or video game. It’s literally all he can think about… throughout the day I hear questions like:
“Mom, do you think I should get the jungle tree house Minecraft Lego set? Or the dungeon?” “Mom, what if I saved up to get a new bike instead?”
And when he finally has the money and has decided what to get, he WILL NOT stop asking, “When can we go to the store? Now? How about now?” Finally, we get to the store and he heads right to the section that it’s located with the most intense tunnel vision. In the most business-like manner, he picks it up and then heads right for the register. He cannot stop talking about how awesome it is the whole way home.
At home, it completely monopolizes his time and thoughts for the next couple days. It’s like he’s not even around. After school, he heads right up to his bedroom to play with it.
…then he’s no longer excited about it. It doesn’t give him joy anymore. He’s moved on. He will play with it sometimes, but for the most part, it just sits. If it was a video game, this would probably occur when the game was “beaten”.
On to the next item to get excited about.
The above story is probably typical of a kid that age. One of our goals as parents is to help him grow out of this. But what if we never grew out of it? Perhaps the only difference between age 10 and adulthood is that the toys have gotten bigger and more expensive. Instead of a larger more awesome set of Legos, it’s a bigger house. Instead of a nicer bike, it’s a nicer car.
If stuff is what you want out of life, you might get some of it, but you won’t get even close to everything you want. And you DEFINITELY won’t take any of it with you when you die. You will have those moments of fleeting joy, which wane and then lead to more wanting. But here’s the thing, was it a true joy that you experienced? Maybe you simply stopped wanting for a short time. Maybe you had a taste of contentment for just a little bit because you weren’t longing for the next thing to get.
Since it is a feeling that comes and then goes, is it actually more like a distraction that actual, true happiness?
When you want stuff, it is an insatiable appetite that will never truly be quenched. Enter Overspending.
When I describe the person that never really “grew up” and stopped wanting stuff, I am describing myself. I remember when we had a new custom home built. The months leading up to it were tantalizing. I just imagined myself cooking in that new kitchen, sleeping in my HUGE new master bedroom, using my new bathtub with jets… and my husband imagined his new garage to put his tools. We were both filled with that exciting feeling that finally… we will have ‘arrived’.
I mean, once we move in, we won’t want anything else, right? We are getting our dream house, the pinnacle of American achievement. What else would there be left to want? Since we already had a couple nice cars, the house would complete the trifecta. We would have it ALL.
The anticipation grew as the weeks came closer to our moving date. And then finally the day came… we moved in. It was AMAZING. We filled that empty house with lots of other stuff (i.e. furniture bought on credit). I stayed excited for quite a while. It was awesome.
But about a month and a half after moving in, I had this strange feeling. It was suddenly just a house. And that feeling of wanting… it came back with a vengeance. Just like Andrew’s latest toy just becomes another toy. Except our house came with a huge pile of debt that we couldn’t afford. Not only was I again discontent, I had this constant feeling of regret in the pit of my stomach. It was a purchase that I couldn’t return to the store…
The simplest way I’ve found to help reorient my desire for more stuff is to consider one question – What if I had to choose? Among everything I value or own, what If it came down to me having to make a decision? Let’s say everything you own and everyone you love is in a burning building and you only have time to save 3 things. (I’m not saying only 3 people… you’re family can be one thing 🙂 )
There’s no way you’d leave your spouse, kids, family, etc. in the building to save a car, or makeup, or handbag, or TV. Whatever or whomever you’d take out of the burning building is what you need to find your fulfillment in and be satisfied with.
Think about it, you just said you’d let everything else in your entire life burn to ashes to keep those few people with you. That is what you truly value. This is truly how you get everything you want in this life. – Match your desires with these things. Stop wanting more stuff, and focus on those few things you just named.
Over the next few years – through constant struggle (financial, marital, etc.) – I learned that wanting was a choice.
I wanted happiness, contentment, financial security, a happier marriage. The desire to fill my life with material things was at odds with all of those…
Being a recovering spender, I still struggle with wanting stuff. I have to regularly examine my heart and my wants. If you want to read more detail of that internal struggle, and how I’ve truly changed my financial future by changing my desires, then you would DEFINITELY want to read my new book called The Recovering Spender.
Wanting stuff only leaves you wanting more stuff… and you will never have everything you want.