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Can you buy lasting happiness?

Retail therapy – shopping to improve your mood – may seem like something that was invented to justify your last mall visit, but more than half of us have done it. Unfortunately, that boost is practically guaranteed to be short-lived. So what can you do to make yourself happy in the long run?

Coexist: Can you buy happiness?

Sometimes we buy things because we need them – groceries, wardrobe basics, household goods. But most of the time we buy things because in some fundamental way we think this act will make us happy.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. A study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing revealed that 62% of shoppers had bought things to cheer themselves up.

So it must work (like most things, in moderation – out of control compulsive shopping is called oniomania), at least a little.

But is this the type of happiness that we are truly seeking? Is this the kind of happiness that will last?

I think that true happiness comes when we help those who are less fortunate, when we take from the excess we have and give it to those who don’t even have their basic needs covered.

These days, it’s possible to do both. The Good Guide that we put together for the holidays featured products that are great, but that also help people in need in some way.

My personal happiness comes from Coexist. Helping people from different communities find ways to work together, learn together, and live together is very inspiring. Over the last several years, I have been able to see the impact our work is having in traditionally conflicted areas. I have seen firsthand that the good in humanity can outflank the bad.

The things I have might make me happy today, but knowing that I, through my organization, have helped others get along will last, I hope, forever.

What are you doing to secure your own happiness?

Tarek Elgawhary is the CEO of the Coexist Foundation.

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