In a time when we all seem to be about the “I want”, “I need”, “I must have” and in a world that at times appears to have gone consumerism mad with many people seeming to believe that a flat screen tv, a minimum of two holidays a year and owning at least two cars to a family is what will make them happy, I have been having a think about whether real happiness can be bought?
I mean I love shopping as much as the next person but I can honestly say I have never had any long term happiness from a pair of shoes, new dress,coat, handbag or miraculous new make-up product (to be honest I don't consider make-up a luxury more a necessity, and anybody who has seen me first thing in the morning will vouch for this). These items are more like lust filled flings, I see them, I want them, I get them, wear them endlessly for a short period (sometimes combined with feelings of guilt) become bored and then forget about them and move on to the next shiny, beautiful thing that catches my eye.
When it comes to the things that have have given me long term happiness (the solid as a 50 year marriage kind), most of it comes down to the things money can't buy, the things nobody can steal nor replace....memories. It's rare that anybody ever sits back, smiles fondly and gets a far away look in their eyes as they reminisce about the time they had to miss a mortgage payment because they went mad in Selfridges on a Saturday afternoon.
Like I say I'm not against a bit of mindless blowing of cash as my ever expanding wardrobe will confirm, but the things that have made me happiest and can guarantee to raise smile when I'm having a bad day include (and this is not a full and comprehensive list):
Kayaking in New Zealand
The memory of New Zealand full stop is an amazing, happiness inducing one, but remembering setting out into the sea with an instructor and five other people (with varied kayaking experience), looking at a beautiful coastline and paddling out amongst the seals will be something that stays with me forever.
I mentored a young person for a short time and can honestly say it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Seeing another person grow in confidence and achieve things that they themselves never thought they would achieve and knowing you helped them do that is the best feeling in the world. All the shoes in the world can't beat the feeling of knowing you've helped make a difference to somebody else's life.
Out of the blue post
Now I'm at an age where most of the letters that land on my mat are telling me that I owe money or trying to get me to part with my money it is always a joy to return home to an enevelope with familiar handwriting and an unexpected card or letter from a friend thhat they have decided to send ' just because.'
My 30th birthday party
Some people dread turning 30. I loved it as it was a brilliant excuse to get all the people I love and care about in one room and even if I don't remember most of it, the pictures tell me that we all had a great night.
Laughing till it hurts
Nothing beats the feeling of getting together with good friends, eating food, drinking wine, catching up and laughing until it hurts so much you actually fear that you might stop breathing. Luckily for me I can't pin this down to just one memory as I am fortunate enough that I have had numerous nights like that.
And my favourite memory.......
Dancing round the living room with mum
When I was a kid, I remember many a Sunday when mum would put on the Mowtown, you know a bit of Stevie Wonder, a bit of Diana Ross and the Supremes et al and we would spend the afternoon singing along and dancing round the living room. My song of choice was Bonny M brown girl in the Ring and to this day will still get me up dancing.
So there you have it, like I say not the full and exhaustive list, but more of a taster. I'm sure we all have different things on our lists of things that make us happy and the memories that will keep us warm in our old age may differ but I'd bet Louis Vuitton clutch that not many of them involve possessions.