“Can’t buy me love,” sang The Beatles. But we can buy its cousin: Praise, which we use as a poor substitute for love. People crave love and acknowledgment beyond all other things. In a survey conducted by Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, employees ranked “Feeling ‘in’ on things” and “Appreciation of work” as the number one and number two benefits they wanted most from their jobs. Higher wages ranked a distant fifth. We want to feel included, we want to be special, we want compliments, we want attention.
When we don’t get it, we go shopping. We buy things to make us noticed, to get praised. Women buy clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags, scarves, and makeup to be beautiful, to be admired. Men buy cars, electronic equipment, tools, hardware, businesses to be powerful, to be admired. The problem is that after everyone has “oohed” and “aahed” over our fabulous purchase and we’ve had our fix of the praise drug—the rush is over. It isn’t long before we need another fix, another dress, another car. The praise is over—but the payments aren’t. We’re stuck with endless monthly bills for items that don’t get us any more praise, but still we need more praise. So we charge the next fix on our credit cards, even though we’re ashamed of ourselves for spending more than we should. It is a habit as destructive as drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes.
Now we have a cycle of buying praise and feeling shame for doing it. The worse we feel about ourselves, the more praise we need to buy. So credit cards in hand, we shop again. “Love me!” the silent scream floats beneath the surface of our ocean of debt.
The solution? Look for love in better places. It isn’t in the new shoes, it isn’t in the new computer whiz bang. Love is in the eyes of a friend, who’s happy to see you, regardless of what you wear. Praise comes from a customer or boss you’ve served above and beyond the call of the ordinary. Acknowledgment is what you give yourself as you master your spending and pay off your debts.
Send out a ship into someone else’s harbor today. Reach out with love to compliment someone on their thoughtfulness, their kindness, their ability to love, or the light in their eyes instead of their new dress. Do your job better than you’ve ever done it—every menial task. Be extraordinary by putting just a little extra in the ordinary. Send out love and love will come sailing back to you. You can’t buy it. You just have to practice it.
Today’s Affirmation: “I am peaceful and content with all the riches in my life.”