Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Why do people who get everything become the most unhappy?

A young lady asked a great question recently:

“Why do people who get everything become the most unhappy?”

She went on to explain,

“My friend is spoiled. She's not a brat and doesn’t have a bad attitude and I wouldn’t call it depression or anything as she's usually super happy but then when she does get sad she says she's missing something. And she's not the only friend like that. Why do spoiled people think they're missing something that'll make them happy?”

Here is my response:

This is an excellent question, Jessica!

It appears that in Western society we're led to believe that if we have more material possessions it will somehow make us feel more fulfilled inside. If we have a bigger TV, a better car, more jewellery, fancy clothes, etc., we will somehow miraculously feel happy - and that's not true at all!

Of course having "some" money and possessions can make our lives a lot easier and less of a struggle but possessions themselves do NOT make us happy inside. Fact.

Sadly, a lot of people spend their lives trying to obtain more and better material possessions in the hope that it'll make them feel happy and fulfilled (like the TV adverts tell us they will) and they then neglect the things in life which will genuinely help them with their happiness.

There is much research and discussion about what makes us feel "complete" (i.e. like we're not missing something) but generally having a sense of purpose and belonging are key to this. A few years ago I read a great book called Dare to Connect by Susan Jeffers (Piatkus Books, 1995) which helped to get me on the right track to start to understand this.

Please do feel free to talk to me about this if you want to discuss it further.


  1. I think we all feel like your friend sometimes. My top two tips are 1) taking time to appreciate what you already have and 2) simply choosing to be happy & focus on the positives

  2. Aye, there's the rub: Jessica's friend is spoiled and therefore doesn't appreciate what she has.

    I've always been a firm believer that, in general, those who've struggled a bit are the ones who are stronger, more grateful for what they have now and are therefore happier.

  3. It's pretty true! Some of the happiest people I met in my life were village kids in Malawi, they had almost nothing! They were happy as long as they had food and shelter! If they could get to school that was a bonus!

  4. (Think I had a post fail - so here goes again)

    I agree with your comments Lisa. Also allot of us tend to attach or hold onto to material possessions and titles as a way of forming an identity and therefore acceptance in society. Maybe we don't know what true happiness really means because we have not been shown how or what that feels or looks like. Here is also some good insight...Deepak Chopra - 7 spiritual laws of success...enjoy xx

  5. I agree with you on materialism. It seems that society now equates material gains with happiness which is not always true. Even if buying a brand new car makes the owner smile, that 'happiness' is only temporary, only to evaporate as time passes by.

    I understand the destructive power of such belief. I have relatives, though they have material gain, they quarrel or get in trouble more than those who have less.