We have all had those days, and what do we often do to make ourselves better? How about convincing your brain you need to “treat yourself”? However, even though we tell ourselves it’ll just be that one time, we all know that it’s never just this once. This mentality is so prevalent right now. It’s all about the ability to soothe our general frustration or discontent with the trajectory of our lives. The thought that we’ll transform our happiness by indulging in ourselves with a fancy meal or new shoes is blatantly false.
The mere idea of this hinders our financial goals with constant hits to our capital that slows and prevent ourselves from achieving lasting joy in our lives.
It’s Impossible, I’ll Never Get There
I think the concept of “treat yo’self” stems from our beliefs or insecurity that we’ll never realize our goals and dreams that we set out to accomplish. If we’re not going to reach our actual aspirations, then why not buy a bunch of random stuff to make ourselves feel better in the short term?
This mentality can play out across all financial decisions from the daily latte to the very home we live in. If we perceive, for example, that we’ll never save enough for a down payment on a house, we might be apt to rent a fancy, expensive apartment as opposed to making do with a cheaper place that’d enable us to sock away cash every month. And in this way, our fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There’s nothing wrong with loving life as it currently is and enjoying the journey to an eventual dream. Indeed, this is an important element of avoiding perpetual consumption. But the danger is when the journey becomes all that there is. The danger is when we start to experience life as one interminable slog after another–an incessant displeasure with our daily routine, popped up only by the occasional treat.
We all have the capacity to be more than that, to transcend merely surviving and instead go about the business of truly living. The balance is to find peace in the present moment while remaining focused on larger ends. And I don’t think this mindset stops once we attain goals, it’s more of an ongoing commitment to self-improvement.
The Mindset of “Just This Once”
One of the most insidious aspects of the treat yourself mindset is that it’s never just a one-time thing and, we slowly begin to need more and more over time. As we acclimate to the jolts of pleasure we derive from one purchase, we develop an immunity. Thus the next time, we require two purchases to render that same positive response. Much like taking medication when we don’t legitimately need it, buying things we don’t need serves to feed an addiction.
The universal truth is that there will always be more. We will never be the richest, best dressed, or drive the snazziest car because there’s always another level of wealth to crave. Greed is insidious and once we step on that consumer carousel, it’s nearly impossible to disembark. Conversely, when we acknowledge that we have enough, we can be at peace.
Nothing is more fulfilling than relishing what you already have and reveling in gratitude for what we’ve been given. I’m never happier than when I do this. And I have to remind myself to feel this way–it’s a conscious decision I make to step back and express thanks for everything I have in life. But when I do, I’m overcome with serenity. And all I did was recognize what I already have! The mind is a powerful partner is our financial and life journeys–if we allow it to guide us towards insight and reflection, it’s incredible how much gratification we can generate on our own.
Finding Purpose in Consumption Land
I’m not saying that extreme frugality is for everyone–it’s most certainly not. And I’m not saying that early retirement should be everyone’s objective–it most certainly shouldn’t. But what I am saying is that we, as a society, are spending ourselves into oblivion. We’re valuing the accrual of stuff and fleeting pleasures above all else. The inextricable link we’re making between buying and happiness is a terrifying connection. Where is fulfillment in all of this? Where’s the community-minded support, sharing, and bartering?
Carving out a life that’s not solely towards spending money is challenging in this society, but it’s not impossible. Treat yourself is a failure to plan for the long-term, and moreover, a failure to see hope in the long-term. But it’s not a depressing topic, rather it’s a wake-up call that we should strive to live in discord with this ideology and instead, be people of enduring passion and purpose.
How do you avoid the urge to “treat yoself”?
Good Luck, Newbies