I've been spending way too much time at the mall lately. It so happens that the very place that is stimulation overload for me, causing terrible dizziness, is the very same place my teenager finds relaxing. And so here I sit once again outside the store with the blaring music and flashing lights. (Yes, I sit amongst a group of bored husbands and exasperated kids...)

It is a good thing that I like to people watch. I actually love to people watch and can do it for hours. And the mall is a great place to watch away. I have always enjoyed looking at others and trying to read their body language, figure out who they are, their relationship to the people they are with, and what their personalities are like.

I actually love to people watchAnd while the mall is filled with so many different types of people, here for so many different reasons, they are all being bombarded with the same idea: that they need much more than they came for. In the mall luxuries become necessities and arms sans bags are incomplete.

I try to tell myself over and over that no matter how great the deal, anything I buy, no matter how cheap, costs more than not buying it. And if I came in not needing anything, then I should leave that way as well.

Eizehu ashir, hasameach bechelko: "Who is rich? The one who is happy with his lot." It is no coincidence that the word for "rich" is similar to the word for "happy" (osher). Not that being rich will make me happy, but being happy will make me rich. Of course not in the sense of having money, but by not needing money.

Meanwhile, I will venture to guess that poor people are not spending the day here. How could they afford it? This is an upscale area with an upscale mall, and from the crowded parking lot, I am guessing these people are not just here to window shop.

And what is the message of every store? You need to spend your money to be happy. Only if you give us your money will you feel satisfied and content. But more so, you not only need what we sell, but you deserve it. You owe it to yourself to buy it. And that, my friend, is the key to happiness.

If I came in not needing anything, then I should leave that way as wellI definitely seek happiness, but I don't believe I deserve every outfit I like. And even if I do deserve it, I can't afford it. And even if I want it, I don't need it. So buying it will not make me happy, it will not make me fulfilled, it will make me stressed and depressed. The mall is trying to tell me that I can't possibly be happy with what I have, while Torah is telling me that the only way to be happy is by recognizing and being happy with what I already have.

And my daughter is about to learn this lesson, whether or not she agrees with it. I might be willing to sit here while she walks into stores for "relaxation." But she will walk out the same way she walked in...empty-handed.

Funny enough, I am starting to enjoy my time here, sitting on my bench, typing away, and feeling completely at peace with not needing anything this enormous place has to offer. Who knew not buying a thing could make you so happy?!