How To Buy Happiness

Human Happiness - calligraphy art on canvas by Melissa Dinwiddie

“What?” you may be thinking. “Has Melissa flipped her lid? Everyone knows you can’t buy happiness!”

Ah, but they’re wrong. You can buy happiness. Just not in the way you probably think.

Read on…

True, accumulating stuff is not the route to happiness — I’ll be the first to grant that. But money can, indeed contribute to happiness.

And yes, I submit that actually spending money can lead to happiness.

I’m not just talking about the “indulge in a modest splurge” recommendation that Gretchen Rubin makes in her best-selling book, The Happiness Project, either. My $10 OXO grater gives me a sparkly moment of happiness every time I use it, but that’s not the kind of happiness I mean.

I mean an overall sense of well-being. A baseline of “happy,” as opposed to a baseline of “meh” or even worse, a baseline of “low-grade misery.”

That’s the kind of happiness I’m talking about, and yes, you can buy it.

(With some caveats.)

Here’s the thing: as I’m writing about in my upcoming e-book, one of the keys to happiness for Creatives (and for everyone, really) is do the things that make you happy (which for Creatives, would obviously include doing their creative thing(s)).

Pretty (ahem) obvious, right?

Except the problem is, a lot of people don’t do the things that make them happy. Resistance gets in the way, and they just never make the time.

(I’m not going to go into why they don’t make the time in this particular post, but given that getting people doing their creative thing is pretty much my biggest passion in life (along with doing my own creative things, of course), you can rest assured it’s a pretty hot topic in these here parts, so poke around, or just stay tuned, and I guarantee you’ll hear more from me on the subject.)

What if, though, you could buy something that would help you do the thing that makes you happy?

Voilá! You just bought yourself some happiness, darlin’!

Of course, there’s a caveat:

Just buying the thing is not enough. You actually have to use it too.

Thought experiment: Say you’re passionate about, oh, golf (ex-husband, anyone?). You’ve played a bit, and you like the idea of playing more, so you buy yourself a fancy set of golf clubs.

Which spend the next several years gathering dust and cobwebs in the garage.

That, my friend, is not going to cut it (as my ex-husband would probably be the first to tell you).

Golf clubs represented the kind of life my ex wished he had, as a person who had the time made the time to play golf. But owning the clubs did not transform him into someone who made time to do things like play golf.

What my ex-husband really needed was transformation. Stuff (in the form of golf clubs) was not enough.

Same thing with the expensive mountain bike, 20-foot sail boat, and vintage Porsche. But I digress.

Now imagine if my ex-husband took the money he’d spent on those golf clubs and invested it instead in lessons from a golf pro. And imagine that he actually scheduled and took those lessons.

With one swipe of his credit card (and granted, some wrangling of his calendar), he just transformed himself from Someone Who Wishes He Did Fun Things Like Play Golf [whether or not YOU think golf qualifies as a Fun Thing is beside the point; bear with me here] into Someone Who Actually Plays Golf.

(Okay, he’d still have to rent or buy some clubs, so he couldn’t take all the money he’d spent on the original set of clubs, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this.)

Money buys transformation, which buys happiness.

In short, buying stuff: not enough.

Buying transformation, though, that’s da bomb.

It’s sure worked in my own life. When I wanted to transform from a Person Who Doesn’t Know How To Do Calligraphy into a Calligrapher, I spent my money on as many classes, workshops, conferences, and books I could get ahold of, and dove into them like my life depended on it.

I also bought enough tools and materials to stock a good-sized walk-in refrigerator. And some of them I needed, to be sure, in order to master my craft. But the tools alone, without the inspiration and motivation to use them, might as well have been locked away permanently in that proverbial walk-in refrigerator.

The classes and workshops and conferences and books inspired and motivated me to keep at it. (Plus they were just plain fun along the way!) They were the catalyst I needed to transform myself. And that transformation — especially the process of transformation; the pursuit of mastery more so even than the achievement of it — made me very happy indeed.

Money bought transformation, which bought happiness.

When I wanted to transform myself from a Person Who Doesn’t Know How To Sing Jazz into a Jazz Singer, I spent my money on classes and CDs and concerts and music camps and nights at the local open mike to hone my craft. Which were fun and wonderful in and of themselves, AND they inspired a transformation that made me very happy.

Money bought transformation, which bought happiness.

When I wanted to bring my great passion for inspiring others to the world in a way that would nourish my audience and myself, I spent my money on seminars and classes and workshops and e-books and membership sites that helped me pursue mastery in all the various and sundry tools and knowledge I’d need to realize my vision.

All of which have helped transform me from a Person With A Vision But No Clear Path To Realizing It into a Creative Thought Leader Building A Following And Making My Mark On The World. Which, in turn, has made me very happy.

Money bought transformation, which bought happiness.

Of course, I’m still very much a work in progress in each of the above examples (and believe me, there are plenty more where those came from). But the operative word here is progress. And spending money on all of the above helped me make some in a big way.

And yeah, if I’d bought all those courses and camps and conferences and stuff and hadn’t invested myself in any of them, no amount of money would have helped. So money alone still isn’t the answer.

But used wisely, it can be part of the answer. If you buy something, and you use it, and that helps you do the thing that lights your fire and makes you feel alive, that, I daresay, is money well-spent!

Which is something to consider as we launch ever deeper into holiday spending madness.

Tell me, have you ever bought transformation? What have you spent money on that made you happy?

Aaaaaand, if you’re looking for inspiration and transformation, I may have just what you need. Visit the recently re-stocked “Get Fired Up” Shop, or just scroll down for a list of inspirational and transformational goodies I’m pleased and proud to be offering right now.

PS – Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!

—-

Buy Yer Happiness Here!

In order of most time-sensitive, here’s what I got that you might want to get your paws on:

Creative Ignition ClubReady to get fired up? Are you dying to do that creative thing you’ve been so hungry to do for oh, so long, but feeling a little stuck? You don’t have to try to do it alone! I created the Creative Ignition Club just for you, and other Creatives just like you. It’s a creative recharge, creative toolbox, and creative support community all in one.

All memberships come with my 30-day kick-start, the Creative Ignition Kit, and memberships of 3 months or longer also get my Playshop-In-A-Box for free ($37 value).

Click to join now — Early-Bird Holiday Special pricing ends Friday!

Start 2012 off right - Day of GeniusThe Day of Genius (link opens in new window) is a day-long virtual retreat, co-produced by Michelle Nickolaisen of Let’s Radiate, to help you shake off holiday stress and get your New Year off to the right start. Focus on you, clarify your true values, create heart-centered goals, establish habits that stick, all in a relaxed, supportive environment. You get a full day of live, streaming video AND recordings of all seminars to review on your own time, whether or not you’re able to attend live. Plus workbooks, worksheets, and the opportunity for individual coaching / “hot-seating.”

Oh, and buy a premium ticket and you get a 1-month membership in the Creative Ignition Club for free! (Plus some other cool bonuses.)

Click to get your ticket now — Early-Bird Special pricing ends Friday!

ArtEmpowers.Me - an online course for artists who want to thrivePersonally, I don’t care if you want to make money from your art or not. My biggest passion is just to get you doing your creative thing. You might never want to sell it, and that’s cool.

But I’m also passionate about deprogramming the “starving artist” myth that keeps so many artists from achieving the kind of success they deserve. If you do have a dream of earning a real income from your art, ArtEmpowers.Me, the online course and membership site I co-created with Cory Huff of the Abundant Artist, will teach you how.

Playshop! Bubble-Bath for the Spirit. Click herePlayshop-In-A-Box includes all the content from the live telephone Playshop (Playshop!) I offered last September. Treat yourself to some time to play and make art. It’s like a spiritual bubble-bath! Includes 6 tutorial videos, the 90-minute Playshop mp3, and the opportunity to show your stuff right here on the blog if you like.

Melissa Dinwiddie • 100 ArtSparksStuff! Yes, indeed! I don’t just have digital goodies — I’ve got your 3D stuff right here.

But inspirational stuff. A real book (like with paper and everything), beautifully-printed in full color, with 100 original artworks from my 2011 ArtSpark newsletter, to inspire you to get cracking doing your creative thing.

Click here or on the image to preview the entire book.

Use the code HOLIDAY to get 15% off your order, or get 20% off any two books with the code GIVEGIFTS, through Nov. 30.

Want more? Check out the “Get Fired Up” Shop.

Thoughts? Reactions? Share them here!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.