Prepent 5774: Day 13, Store-Bought Happiness
Trying to find lasting happiness—and not just at the check-out counter
Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
There’s a warm glow in my belly, which is sucked in, and I take a second approving look in the mirror before turning to the salesman: I’ll take it. The blazer is packed up, along with my new shirt and pants, and I leave the store with that feel-good sensation of mission accomplished, excited to look good tonight.
The occasion? My friend Jill Soloway’s new film, Afternoon Delight, is premiering in Los Angeles tonight and there’s a red carpet and everything (Soloway spoke with Vox Tablet’s Rebecca Soffer about the film yesterday).
Happiness comes in many packages, and sometimes retail therapy can do just the trick. (Thank you for leaving guilt and judgement outside.) Sometimes it may be that looking good in a new outfit brings out a better mood—it’s not about the act of shopping itself, it’s the result.
After I left the store, I drove around the city humming cheerily, wondering if it was the elegant new outfit that was making me happy, the anticipation of a festive occasion, or both. What causes happiness, and how can we facilitate the feeling while keeping it genuine?
The goal is to be happy, but not because of outside forces—true happiness is cultivated from within. But how can we use helpful crutches like retail therapy to help us get there, while not getting too attached to our purchases. Retail therapy is a big business, often abused by buyers and sellers alike. “Shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist” Tammy Faye Baker said in a recent Atlantic article about the loneliness that often follows shopping sprees.
I pause today, on Prepent Day 13, to think more deeply about being happy, how to be there more often, relying less on retail or the love of others, but finding real pleasure within.
How can I be more happy? that’s my task for the next few days. I’m starting a new list: what are three things that make me happy, and how can I make them part of my everyday life?
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.