Tag Archive | "happiness"

Money = Happiness?

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Cast your mind back to the happiest time in your life and be honest with yourself.  Did that blissful time take place during in the days when life was simpler and kinder, or was it when you hit a jackpot in Atlantic City?  An unexpected windfall can create happiness, but that pleasure is temporary.  When the money runs out, you are back to where you started, financially and emotionally.  You are, as Frank Sinatra sang, “riding high in April and shot down in May.”


However, true happiness can last a lifetime, dependent upon the way you live, view, and even reminisce back upon your life.


As children, my brothers and I led carefree lives thanks to our parents and other close family members.  We grew up innocent of the world around us, not understanding or even anticipating that the joy we experienced as children would one day change.  Perhaps ignorance is bliss!


Consider Santa Claus, a beloved character that actually had his roots in reality.  But somewhere along the line, the true story of a man who was generous to children at Christmas was embroidered into a jolly, larger-than-life figure in a red suit commanding a team of eight flying reindeer.  As a child, you were taught that Santa and his elves toiled all year long in their toyshop at North Pole to make you and other good children happy.  You were told that that Santa drove his sleigh around the world, parked it on your roof, and slid down the chimney to deposit your presents beneath the tree as you slept peacefully on Christmas Eve.  Later, harsh reality hit when you discovered that your parents had bought those gifts, not Santa.  Once the myth was exposed, you lost the innocent joy and excitement of the holiday.


Like the belief in Santa Claus, everything in life has a beginning and an end.  Well, almost everything.


If we are blessed, we find happiness in many forms, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.  If we are blessed, we find love and rewarding careers.  We marry, have children, and welcome grandchildren.  We form friendships and enjoy the arts, sports, and the giving of charity to others.  To be truly happy, we must have these things that are all linked by love: love of others, love of work we find fulfilling, love of entertaining and uplifting pursuits.


Money is secondary.  Yes, it makes life easier.  But to have money and not have love is a hollow, sad existence.  The Beatles put it best when they sang, “Money can’t buy me love.” 




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! 


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