Tag Archive | "Cinderella"

Does Money Buy Happiness?

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How do we define happiness: that which each of us pursues with a single-minded purpose, yet often, fails to achieve?  Is happiness a state of mind we delude ourselves into entering, or is it as real as it is fleeting?  Is it a secret desire, lovingly nurtured and finally brought to fruition?  Is it a haven far from the cares of the world?   Or is happiness nothing more than an elusive dream?

For a moment, reflect upon your life and answer the following question honestly.  When was the happiest time in your life, and was wealth the source of it?  And the next question: if you could accumulate enough wealth (with the concept of “enough” being subjective), would you be happy?  Or would you be like the two friends in the motion picture The Treasure of the Sierra Madre?  Accompanied by an old prospector, the friends set out to strike and unearth gold.  But in the end, their real happiness is found in the company of friends and family.

Although wealth brings a measure of security, particularly in these lean times, it also brings pitfalls if one does know how to manage it.  When one has money, one tends to overspend, and overspending leads to harmful indulgences, several of which can be found in the Biblical Seven Deadly Sins.  Ultimately, if one does not enjoy a strong foundation of spirituality and love, money does little for us but point up the fact that we have, in essence, nothing of real value.  Of money, the Good Book asks, “What good does it do if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Mathew 16: 26)

How, then, does one find happiness?   It is not a tangible thing, like the gold sought by the characters in the above-named film.  I believe that the answer to this question lies in the human soul and not in the material things in life.  Instead of driving ourselves crazy procuring wealth, and shortening our lives with the stress needed to accumulate it, our time on this plane would be better spent in the company of friends and family, enjoying the true treasures that surround us.  Barring a loving support structure, and sometimes even with that structure, many of us take solace in the arts.  Some of us enjoy the arts as spectators and listeners; some of us have the talent to wield that art so that others may take comfort from it.

Perhaps the arts are not for you.  Perhaps it is sports, or initiating or being active in a worthy charity.  Perhaps it’s serving as a mentor to a disadvantaged child.   For examples, don’t look too closely at those who seem to have achieved monetary success and yet, have managed to muck up their lives as well as the lives of others.  The headlines abound with the Lindsay Lohans of this world but rarely focus on the average person who has found his or her bliss and had the guts, or at the very least, extended himself/herself, to attain that bliss.

Granted, celebrities who command huge salaries have more time and money to pursue what makes them happiest.  But even if you maintain a 9 to 5 job and carry all manner of obligations, you can still seek out what makes you happy and carve out a little time for yourself to enjoy that happiness.  If you don’t, you’ll make everyone around you miserable — if not immediately, then eventually.  It’s inevitable.  If you don’t, you will have done nothing more than move through your life no better than an animal concerned with gaining only the barest necessities.

Find what makes you happy, and go for it.  And don’t give up if it escapes you for a while.   The quest itself can offer many happy and enlightening moments.  If you keep at it, if you envision it, it may come to you.  Often, just the dream of happiness can see you through your darkest hours.  Walt Disney’s Cinderella featured a song titled “A Dream Is a Wish your Heart Makes,” written and composed by Mack Davis, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston.  It has a beautiful melody and lyrics that can chase away the blues.  So why not listen now, dream a little dream, and have a happy day! 


The Cinderella Effect

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The fairy tale story of Cinderella is known by people in various parts of the world.  Although the story differs from place to place, the animated Walt Disney version of the tale is the one with which most English-speaking people are familiar.  As with all fairy tales, Cinderella blends magical and mythical elements to illuminate the human condition.  Usually, such tales have happy endings.  And thus, Cinderella tells the story of triumph over undeserved oppression.


Through Cinderella’s story, those experiencing adversity in their lives, a group with which the entire human race can identify, are offered solace and hope.  If the naive and virtuous Cinderella, bereft of any resources, can overcome her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, capture the attention and affection of a prince, and live happily ever after, then so can we all, metaphorically speaking.  In this regard, Cinderella represents every person.


Throughout the millennia of recorded history, the act of triumphing over adversity has become the archetypal harbinger of radical changes in life and the world.  The triumph of Colonial America over the British Empire, David’s conquest of Goliath, and Jesus’ victory over death were all indisputably world-changing events.


On a much smaller scale, each day individual people win modest victories that improve their own lives, or the lives of their families.  Cinderella’s story, if factual, would fall within this category.  Sometimes, however, the triumph of an individual, although beneficial to himself and his family, can have meaning for others.  In these instances, the individual victor is viewed by a large group as representative of their plight and so his victory is perceived as theirs as well.


Such was the case with James J. Braddock whose story was recounted in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated drama, “Cinderella Man.”  In the early 1930’s, Braddock was a washed-up ex-prizefighter who, like multitudes of other Americans, was forced to go on the public dole as a result of the Great Depression.  Dubbed the “Cinderella Man” by a newspaper columnist of the day, Braddock received a second-chance at boxing success through a fortunate turn of events.  Driven by love for his family and sheer determination, he seized the opportunity, rose through the ranks, and against all odds, dethroned the current champion, Max Baer, who had killed a man in the ring and was considered virtually unbeatable.  Along the way, through actions such as returning all the funds he had collected while on public assistance, he endeared himself to the common people.  His victory was greeted by the downtrodden as their own and became a source of inspiration and hope.


Braddock, like the fictional Cinderella, was acting in his own best interest.  Yet, his own interests became the interests of many.  And, his benefit, primarily economic, was transformed into a benefit of the soul and spirit for those who identified themselves with his struggle.  Like Braddock, we should all endeavor to fight the good fight, whatever that battle might be, for even our smallest successes may commence a ripple effect that may spawn a tidal wave for the benefit of humankind. 

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