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.”