On this week’s episode of A Little Happier, Gretchen told the story of a young girl who desperately wanted a dollhouse full of beautiful furniture and accessories. As a gift, her doting grandparents went out and bought them the best dollhouse available, full of all kinds of adorable trinkets, exactly what she’d wanted. She loved it and happily played with it a few times, but then never played with it again. The joy was gone. Gretchen quotes Bertrand Russell in saying, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”
I found this anecdote fascinating, but came at it from a slightly different angle. I didn’t think the message was that we need to be without the things we want in order to find happiness. Rather, to me the story was saying that we want the experience of wanting the things we want.
We want the research, the longing, the planning, the saving, the anticipation, the treasure-hunting, the chase. In giving this little girl such a generous gift, they were robbing her of hours, weeks, years of daydreaming and scheming and stretching her creativity to use the resources she already had to create the outcome she wanted.
This instantly hit home, especially because (as I mentioned in this post), last weekend I became obsessed with a few interior design YouTube channels. Naturally, after watching all those videos I suddenly wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS. Blankets, baskets, and home goods galore. I wanted to run out to Home Sense or Dollarama or The Bay and grab some easy, cute options to “check off my list” and improve my home.
But then I’d be buying myself a dollhouse, wouldn’t I? I’d be robbing myself of the treasure hunt. When I look around my home, it’s the treasures I found at a thrift store, or while antiquing with my friends, or that I painstakingly saved up for, that I love and cherish the most. I don’t feel the same way about the easy options that I grabbed from Ikea because I needed a set of placemats.
I’m not saying that big box stores like those don’t ever serve a purpose (because they absolutely do!!), I just know that if I went out and furnished my (doll)house in the fastest way possible, I would be stealing some of my own joy. Instead, I’d rather live without certain things completely until I have a chance to hunt them down or save up for them properly.
On that note, yesterday I took myself on a trip to Value Village, one of my favourite things to do. I came home with a beautiful vintage wire basket, a lovely woven plant pot, an retro radio that still works, and a ceramic vase to hold my pens & pencils. It took a while to dig all these treasures up, but I could never have found things with this much patina at a place like H&M Home. This is a note to self, for the next time I just want to run out and grab something as easily and quickly as I possibly can: Embrace the chase. Accept the challenge. Anticipation is half the fun.