Can anyone think of the last time a "thing" made them anything more than transiently happier?
Yea, neither can I. Should be no big secret - buying stuff doesn't make people happier, except maybe in the very short term. Most Americans remain chained to a consumer-driven lifestyle anyway. While buying stuff doesn't make people permanently happier, it can definitely make them *unhappy* when they are in debt, stressed, and suddenly unable to make ends meet.
For anyone who wants a model to follow, this is the guy. I stumbled across his website the other day, and I absolutely love it. Read some of his older posts. He was living easily on $ 7,000 per year. It's an ideal to work towards.