Me, Happier.

Houston let me know about Best Buy's "You, Happier" slogan. Somehow I missed it, yet it seems that other critics have, too.

After a cursory Google search, I didn't find too many folks up in arms about "You, Happier." Perhaps BB's customers are happier enough that the slogan failed to raise concern. BB didn't say, "You, Happy," or, "You, Happiest." They just said "You, Happier," and for most customers (including me), they're right.

I am happier when I get a new laptop or scanner. Shoot, I'm happier when I get a fresh ink cartridge. Not happiest and maybe/maybe not happy, but I'm definitely happier.

Happier is good. So is buying stuff that we need and even an occasional item we don't need. Most of these make us happier, but happier must not control us. Here's a serious reason why.

In Waiting for God, Simone Weil wrote, "The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry."

The ways we hunger and satisfy our hunger for happier are deeply spiritual matters, which is why Weil's comment is a theological one. When Jesus said to deny ourselves he wasn't calling us to be ascetics, but to be people who recognize the spiritual danger in satisfying our hunger.

Best Buy? Fine, but we could all do a little better at going hungry once in a while.


Anonymous,  August 23, 2008 at 12:12 AM  

Your post reminds me of a recent Seth Godin post.

For me, I am left with the question of why isn't "happy" good enough? And is my happiness really what it's all about?

Sam Van Eman August 23, 2008 at 8:52 AM  

Thanks for the link! I hadn't read that entry yet, but it ties in well. I especially like his comment on marketers' double interest:

"Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.

It's interesting to note that marketers trying to maintain market share have a lot of work to do in reminding us that we're happy." (Italics mine.)

Bradley J Moore,  August 23, 2008 at 11:18 AM  

Sam - Very thought provoking, indeed. I AM happy, like you, when buying things that I am interested in. But we all know that "things" will never replace spiritual vacancy. However, I am firmly planted in the American culture and must constantly reconcile the materialistic vs. spiritual mindset, with the spiritual ultimately winning.

Sam Van Eman August 23, 2008 at 5:41 PM  

Bradley, what would happen if the general public saw the materialistic vs. spiritual as more than a battle of mindsets? It is that, of course, but it is also an inhospitable skirmish between two real people - the marketer and the consumer.

I find it easy to place these two so far apart in my mind that they cease to be neighbors. All I end up seeing is the consumerism the two of them create in the middle. Yet they are neighbors despite their rather manipulative and co-dependent relationship.

Would healthy/faithful living in American culture be easier if these two people on either end of consumerism reconciled?

Mark Goodyear August 23, 2008 at 11:23 PM  

I like materialism... to a point. I mean, at least it gets us away from the problematic, platonic division of the physical world and the spiritual world.

Sure materialism can be taken too far. But we shouldn't forget to love the material world. I do!

On the other hand, when I'm feeling cranky, I've been known to grumble at my kids: "I don't care if you are happy. Happiness is overrated."

bradley j moore,  August 25, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

Hey,I've been thinking more about this... what do you think about art? Art,music,theatre all makes me very happy too, and it usually costs money. Is art the same as materialism? Aren't they both part and parcel of the culture we live in?

Sam Van Eman August 27, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

Good question, Bradley (and sorry for the delay on responding). I think art can certainly fall into the same trap as consumerism, especially if your season symphony tickets and costly paintings serve as identity crutches for you. Think of the TV character Frasier Crane who forever struggled with insecurity and used the fine arts as a way to compensate. His show succeeded, in great part, because people could resonate with his plight.

What do you think?

gordon August 27, 2008 at 11:10 PM  

Great words. Really liked this. I'm featuring it today at the High Callng site.

Sam Van Eman August 28, 2008 at 8:44 AM  

Thanks, Gordon. I'm happy to contribute. :)

Anonymous,  November 17, 2008 at 3:40 PM  

I have definitely been "happier" in my life at times.. it certainly didn't come from Best Buy. Happiness with material objects to me is what I may use them for, not for simply their accumulation.

Sam Van Eman November 17, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

Anonymous, it's ironic how little my overall happiness changes even as I accumulate more.

Thanks for tuning in.

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