of us fall prey to what I call the Myth of More: the
more you have, the better you'll feel. Our society's
collective trance of wanting more and more stuff, or
"bright, shiny objects," as my friend Stewart
calls them, is based on a shared, insidious, and often
unconscious belief: more toys, success, and money
mean more happiness. But as these statistics show,
it just isn't true:
* Americans' personal income has increased more than
two and a half times over the past fifty years, but their
happiness level has remained the same.
* Nearly 40 percent of the people on the Forbes
list of wealthiest Americans are less happy than the
* Once personal wealth exceeds $12,000 a year, more
money produces virtually no increase in happiness.
It's obvious that the happiest people aren't the ones with
all the goodies. (If they were, there'd be a lot
more happy people in Hollywood!) Yet we are seduced
by the deep-seated belief that money will buy
happiness--at least we think it will for us. A
recent survey showed that at all income levels people
think more money would definitely increase their level of
I heard that a reporter once asked J. Paul Getty, the
founder of Getty Oil and the world's first billionaire,
"You're the richest man in the world. When do
you know you have enough?" He thought for a
moment and said, "Not quite yet."
shows that our "desire to acquire" won't
bring us true joy. So why is is so hard to
escape wanting more?
Because Madison Avenue doesn't want us to.
Advertising exists to perpetuate the Myth of More;
it's the engine that drives our economy.
Billions of dollars are spent every year to convince
you that you're not okay the way you are and that
you need things--lots and lots of them--to
make you happy. One night I did an
experiment. I counted how many times and ways
I was told this over the course of that night's
It was shocking. In just three hours, I was
bombarded by sixty-eight messages telling me that I
was doomed to misery if I didn't have what that
company was selling. In the most entertaining,
compelling, and creative ways possible, advertisers
tried to convince me that I needed to have the right
car (five different companies claimed theirs was the
right one), the sexiest bra (like the one decorated
with diamonds that cost $2 million--that's one
million per boob!)), the magic pills (we'll talk
about those later), and the best skin care product
(God forbid I should look my age).
I know what you're thinking: But I don't
pay attention to those commercials. They don't
affect me. Sorry to burst your bubble, but
they do. You can't help it: the messages
we see and hear repeatedly go into our brain on a
subconscious level and become beliefs. If they
didn't, advertisers wouldn't be spending oodles of
money to make sure you view their ads over and over
With children watching an average of five hours of
television a day, is it any surprise that we have a
bunch of unhappy kids who are in a frenzy to get the
next toy, video game, or designer-label jeans? . . .
What would our lives be like if we could all be
happy no matter what?
When you experience your inner, innate happiness and
are Happy for No Reason, you still enjoy the things
in your life, but you don't look to them to make you
happy. You're able to banish the Myth of More.
happiness, Shimoff says, is within reach for
anyone who can turn down the volume on their
hectic lives and learn the 21 Happiness Habits
that she has cultivated from 100 interviews
with "deeply happy" people
(including actress Goldie Hawn and author
Elizabeth Gilbert). Emphasizing a
holistic approach, Shimoff takes into account
mind, heart, body and soul in seven chapters
that cover three Happiness Habits each, as
well as corresponding anecdotes that
"define what it means to be Happy for No