As seen in the Dayton Daily News on April 23, 2016.
My daughter and I went to Nashville for spring break. While walking through some boutiques, I fell in love with a pair of shoes.
They were beautiful, comfortable, and when I turned them over, expensive.
Even though I could have paid for them, I put them back. I would not enjoy them knowing I paid more for shoes than I need to.
It is my personal value system that keeps me from regretting my decision to put them back.
My value system reminds me that having security, in the form of savings in the bank, is important to me and adds to my overall happiness. Wasting money makes me feel guilty. Knowing this, I make purchases that agree with my value system.
Your personal value system determines what is meaningful and important to you.
Advertisers, peers and society try to convince us to buy stuff. We often fall victim to their tactics and purchase things that don’t meet with our value system. They bring us short term happiness, but often we end up regretting the purchases.
When talking with clients who are unhappy, I can hear the pain that comes from purchases that are not in agreement with their value system.
Recently, a client described her childhood to me. She was a very happy child, even though she grew up with very little. She wasn’t poor, just had what she needed.
It was simple for her to keep her room organized, which made her happy. Having only what she could easily take care of became part of her personal value system.
As an adult, she acquired money to shop with and started buying in excess. These excess purchases caused disorganization in her home and keep her from doing things that make her happy.
The more she buys, the further she is removed from her value system where structure and tidiness reside.
We talked in length about her values, and she discovered much about herself. With new clarity, she is starting to push back and limit her purchases so she can once again feel in control.
Recognizing we have compromised our value system often takes time to discover. After all, we been conditioned to think that stuff brings happiness, so logically, more stuff should bring more happiness.
Our personal value system can also evolve over time.
Another client changed to a vegan lifestyle after leaving home. In addition to not eating meat, she decided to limit buying merchandise manufactured using animal products.
She called me and said, “I’m thinking about selling my leather handbags. I feel guilty using them, but I’m not sure if I will regret my decision later.”
I answered, “You will be happier when you don’t compromise your value system. Plus, we can’t count on a future happiness so do what makes you happy now.”
She replied, “You put into words how I was feeling. I didn’t think about my value system changing, but that’s what is happening. By letting go of my handbags, I’ll feel more at peace.”
Take a moment to think about your personal value system and what makes you happy, without regard to what others think. What habits have you formed that have taken you away from your authentic self?