what I want

I live in one of the most affluent areas in the world. A 15-min drive will take me to dozens of restaurants and shopping choices, where I can buy almost any type of food or item I could ever possibly want. Should I not find what I want, I can drive another 15 minutes in my choice of three different directions, and will likely find my desired item at any one of those destinations.

If I’m too busy to go out shopping, feel ill, or just plain tired I can pull up thousands of shopping options online, click the “pay now” button and the item will arrive at my door within the week. Maybe even tomorrow if I pay extra for shipping.

When the recession hit, our shops and restaurants felt the squeeze – they were only crowded on the weekends. Now we’re back to full capacity almost every night of the week. And for the right price I can find what I want anywhere, which is good because the TV, radio, and magazines tell me that I want a lot. That I need a lot. That I can’t be happy or lovable, complete or satisfied, pretty or smart without having what I want.

What is this thing that draws my eyes to sparkling storefronts, that causes me to feel dissatisfied with with what I have? What is this thing that tells me I’m worth it, that I deserve it, that life is nothing more than what I can have next?

Maybe you feel it, too. A force of some kind, pulling you in – maybe saying that you need plastic surgery or special spa treatments, and then you can be happy. Or when you buy that new TV. Or that new car. Even a shiny new piece of jewelry. Our culture is teeming with it – whatever it is, this force, this thing causing us to want to buy things, change ourselves, change others. And then when we have the money to do so, well… it’s intoxicating, and we can’t get enough.

When you feel the pull, beware. That feeling, that thing is not from God.

14 thoughts on “what I want

    1. Hi Tim — so I assume you mean our heavenly Father? The reason I ask is because the day you posted was actually my Dad’s birthday so he was on my mind. Strange that you would refer to God as Dad, on that day!

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  1. That voice or tug,is called vanity and if it doesn’t get you,his brother called pride will.He is not to far behind and is working hard in an attempt to get you to serve him. Good post.

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  2. Advertising is really focused on getting us to realize our need for something we didn’t even know existed, and probably would never miss if we didn’t have said product. The author of Ecclesiastes (Solomon ?) gives us a great commentary on this, and it’s amazing how little has changed since that ancient book was written.

    Good thoughts on this…blessings to you 🙂

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    1. Thanks Joe — I can see the effects of advertising very clearly when I listen to my children. They already know the jingles and slogans of major chains, and often try to get me to buy certain brands based on the commercials they heard. But they are also learning that sometimes advertisements lie!

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  3. “What is this thing that draws my eyes to sparkling storefronts, that causes me to feel dissatisfied with with what I have?”

    Interestingly, this topic has been extensively researched. The more a person makes, the happier they are, but the effects are not linear. If you make $500 year, you will be many, many times happier with $1000 a year. That works up to to about $6000 grand. After $6000, more money still increases your happines, but not nearlly as drasticly per $1000 as that first 6. The limit is about 30 grand per annum. After that, more money starts to actually HURT your happiness. Because now you are worried about all the nice things your money got you: a job, a car, a house.

    You have money you don’t need…so now you are dragged down by the worry…should I buy this…should I buy that? With this surplus what will make me the happiest?

    So, being that you are in the top wealthiest 1% of the world population, how do acheive happiness? Research suggests that we want to be richer than our peers, and that if people we percieve to be our peers have more than we do, then we feel passed up, and left behind. Sad.

    So your wealth causes you anxiety and the spending of your peers makes you envious. What to do?

    Easy. I present you with the Rageomatic patented system of happiness, free of charge.

    (1.) Get out of debt. It’s the number one cause of anxiety. The “easiest” way to do that is sell your house and by a cheaper one, in crappy part of town with an equally crappy school system, so this will also cause you to home school your kids, because if you can afford private school, you could afford to pay off your house already.
    (2.) Change your peers. Surround yourself with the poor, the stupid, and the weak. You’ll feel rich, smart, and strong. Deeply important to human happiness, you will feel needed, even treasured.
    (3.) Invest all the the extra wealth in helping your new friends by starting non-profits. This satisfies several needs. The desire to create, for one. A need for power, and outlet besides yourself for your wealth. This means when you decide what to spend (which you will be spending a lot of time on) your thoughts are not about yourself, but others. Because you aren’t thinking of what makes you happy, you do not enter a cycle of constantly asking yourself, “Did this make me happy enough?” and ironically, become happy.

    Now, oddly enough, though this plan is backed by scripture, and 200 years of behavioral research, if you practice it, I promise you the condemnation of your existing peers, in and out of the church. (Yes, I am an atheist. A book doesn’t stay in print for 4000 years without being right about an awful lot of things.)

    Godless blessing (whatever they’re worth) Anna.

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    1. Hi Rageomatic — wow, that is a very interesting plan for happiness! You know, I read a book awhile back called “Not Buying It” written by an atheist who found herself buying tons of Christmas gifts when she doesn’t even believe in Christ. So for a year she went without buying anything unnecessary, and she found out some profound truths, many of which you have touched on in your comment.

      Wealth is today’s idol, for believers and unbelievers alike.

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