July 3, 2006


Can't Buy Me Love...

Can money buy happiness? This article today in the Washington Post says no. I agree with it.

I've been broke, and I've been less broke. I've known people who were staring at the poverty line (from both sides), and I've known people who were rich enough to make you gasp. I'll never downplay the sense of security a little extra can offer, but as far as happiness goes, there's not a chance that the money could fill that hole.

Many couples fight over money, but the quantity of it won't change that dynamic. If you fight when there isn't enough, you're still going to fight if there's a bunch. That marriage curse is actually about values, not money. Different beasts.

I don't know a single kid who has everything they ask for that is any happier than my poor, deprived sons who hear 'no' more often than a telemarketer. Too many parents remove the sense of accomplishment, the sense of anticipation, and the sense of delayed gratification that comes from a kid actually achieving a goal - like working and saving for a new bike.

I've learned, by my advanced age, two secrets in attaining happiness around money. Find a job you love, and learn how to leave it behind at the end of the day. Take the biggest, blackest marker you can find to delineate the line between work and not-work. Do not steal from people you love the only thing they really want - your time and undivided attention.

The second thing is to resist buying crap. Things may hold a momentary thrill, but most things are a stop-gap; you're looking for something else, and you aren't going to find it at the mall. Live a life you can afford, and if you increase the money coming into the household, continue to live the same way. Save the rest so you can live comfortably regardless of what the future brings.

Walk, don't drive. Get a pet. Get off the phone and meet the person you're babbling to. Turn off your cell phone, and teach your children that nothing is more important than knowing they are loved, and that they are safe.

Money can't buy happiness because we use it to insulate ourselves from the things that do - people we love, new experiences, and a fundamental connection to the planet we're standing on.

Sorry for preaching. Sermon's over.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to all that. Thanks,

July 03, 2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahhh, money may not buy you happiness, but the stress of worrying about money...making ends meet if you are genuinely short of money...the isolation it causes if you can't participate in "normal" socializing...it can be corrosive to the soul. Imagine feeling like you aren't meeting society's moral minimums because you're dodging creditors. It's like the "broken window" theory of civic peacekeeping, one little thing goes wrong and you cease to think of yourself as being as good as everyone else, eventually you aren't even bound by the same mores. A slippery slope.

I think there may be a moral balance if you are poor for your art, or poor because you've turned down a great sum because it comes from a questionable source...but being poor for regular reasons can make you a sad, angry, unreliable, culturally non-participating person who is too worried and scared to be an interesting conversationalist. A vicious cycle because you don't get opportunity if you are a Sad Sack or a Negative Nellie (like that?)

So...maybe rich people are nicer and a better cultural and emotional asset.

?

No? ok. nevermind.

-Vienner

July 04, 2006 8:28 PM  

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