You can’t buy a better life

  
I have been trying to get to the bottom of why I did (and sometimes still do) purchase items that I ‘want’ rather than ‘need’.
And an article on the Guardian website (you can read it here) about whether shopping can make up happy has thrown up an interesting link for me that I hadn’t realised before.

It talks about ‘bridging goods’ which are effectively things we buy because we believe they are the connection – or bridge – to a life we hope to live and goals we hope to achieve.

I’ve written before about how I now realise new clothes don’t make me better looking, and collecting books and CDs doesn’t make me more cultured, but I hadn’t explicitly realised that by consuming I was hoping to trick my way into a better life.

After reading the article, I realised a lot of my buying was to do with creating a life that I wanted to have.

* I purchased lots of different fitness items because I wanted to be healthier and live a more active life.

* I purchased travel books because I wanted to see more of the world.

* I purchased and kept multiples of just-in-case items, scared to throw anything out, because I wanted to have security.

Now I have a healthier and more active lifestyle, I travel more and I have more security but I didn’t achieve any of these by buying more things.

I only achieved them by changing my life, by making tough decisions and sometimes making sacrifices.

For example, if I want to go on a long bike ride (part of my healthier lifestyle) then I can’t go to the pub on a Friday night because it’s never fun to ride with a hangover. And if I want to travel then I have to scale back on other spending in order to afford a trip away.

Purchasing bridging goods actually kept me from achieving the things I wanted rather than connecting me to them. The more I purchased the less money I had for things I wanted to do and the less time I had to do them anyway because I was so busy looking choosing/ shopping for/ looking after the goods I bought.

I know this may seem like a simple idea but it’s really struck a chord with me: you can’t buy your way to the life you want, you have to take charge and make real changes to reach your goals.  

M

11 thoughts on “You can’t buy a better life

  1. There have been times where I have sit back and thought about how much money I spent throughout my life on useless crap. What a waste as none of those things brought more joy to my life. It was the people and places that brought joy, not the stuff I allowed to enter my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realise it. It was quite an eye opener this morning when I read that article and I have a sense of clarity and understand the direction I’m travelling in a bit better today. M

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That box of cd’s in the photo is a stark reminder to me that I have a similar one on a shelf upstairs, and a box of cassette tapes that I don’t even have a player for, to enable me to play them. I only ever play cd’s occasionally in the car these days, so maybe the time has come to donate most of them and acquire a bit more shelf space.

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  3. Hi Michelle, I read the Guardian article at the weekend and had an interesting chat about it with my husband. I think I’m beyond being seduced by advertising to want to buy stuff in order to acquire a ‘lifestyle’. Getting rid of stuff, spending less and making more careful decisions are my bridging tools to a happier, freer and less consumer driven lifetsyle. Glad I never bought a Smeg – how practical are they anyway?

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    1. Haha! I agree – they’re massive! I think I’m in shock from realising what I was trying achieve with my buying. I’d been slowly chipping away at the idea that buying doesn’t equal happiness and this was the final piece of the puzzle. I like how you’ve changed ‘bridging goods’ for ‘bridging tools’. I definitely need some more tools – but then that’s where you lovely lot come in! M

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  4. Oh, I love this post. I have so many thoughts I think I might have to write my own blog post in response. Lol! But I do think that minimalism is a result of privilege in the sense that we have money to spend on things we don’t need. However, I would argue that the attitude of the privileged who spend and the poor who spend are not that different in the sense both have no thought of the future–it’s all about deserving “a break today”. The poor have an advantage because they already value relationships over things, but the privileged who value things over relationships are definitely behind. Minimalism could teach both sides a few things about perspective.

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