Back in 2003 psychologists and economists from Harvard, the University of Virginia, and Princeton conducted an academic study to explore what produces happiness. The researchers found that we almost always overestimate the intensity and the duration of the happiness that possessions will bring. They give the example of believing that your life would be so much better if you had a BMW. They say that such a purchase always turns out to be less exciting than you anticipate and that its excitement wears off faster than you thought it would. The researchers conclude that the amount of money accumulated above middle-class comfort has absolutely no impact on our happiness. (John Gertner, “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness,” New York Times Magazine, September 7, 2003)
I’m probably not telling you anything that you don’t already know; and yet how often do we succumb to this temptation to think that possessions will satisfy? If I could just have that dress, or that car, or a bigger home…then I would be happy. Or how about technology? Do you find yourself always wanting to upgrade your phone, or your laptop, or your iPod? Are you always chasing after the latest technology because you believe it is going to make your life so much better?
We need to hear the warning of Solomon that when possessions become the driving force in our lives they only make life more meaningless.