Happiness and Money

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That old saying ,  “Money can’t buy you Happiness”  turns out to be at least partially untrue ! The thing is happiness does increase as disposable income increases but only to a point, and then happiness has little, if anything to do with money.  It’s not a hard concept to follow if you think about it, if for instance you don’t have enough money to purchase food or perhaps it’s a trade-off between heating your home in the winter or eating then certainly money would have a great bearing on at least your comfort and general happiness.  As income increases we don’t think as much about heating our homes or having enough to eat , it’s not so much about having money in the bank as it is having enough to maintain some level of comfort.

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As our income surpasses  basic comfort levels our happiness is much less related to what we have. Sure we may fantasize or even achieve that fancy new car or the next best thing on our wish list but more often than not that is just a form of endorphin rush rather than some lasting measure of happiness.   Things get old, the thrill fades (with a caveat, more on that later) and we return to whatever level of happiness we were before. Perhaps that momentary happiness can even come with a happiness price tag ?  Sometimes our dreams, our biggest desires come at a pretty hefty cost down the line to our happiness , for example that fancy car, boat, home , really whatever, feels really good when you first get it, but what if for some unforeseeable reason something happens (loss of job , foreclosure/repossession, fluke uninsured loss) that you no longer have that flashy whatever.  I think we can all agree this would be an emotional price tag to our happiness that many would find very painful. What if that shiny new boat isn’t all you dreamed it would be or a contributor to actual unhappiness, that old saying “watch what you wish for” comes to mind.

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More on things that get old and lose their appeal … What makes me happy as far as purchases go are things that come with an experience built-in , I very much prefer paying cash for everything even if my purchases aren’t the newest or best, car payments for instance are not something that make me happy. I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, however my life is very fulfilling because I don’t worry a lot about what I do or don’t have.  I have a pretty serious camping addiction, I love being outside, I love going places, I love being able to take my pets with me ! I spend a very good portion of my income on camping equipment, I only purchase what I can afford always look for quality and always pay cash. Last year I purchased an older but high quality motor-home, I only mention this because it’s an example of one of those wish list type items I eluded to earlier.  A year later I’m still just as happy and excited as the day I got it, why ? Because I didn’t just buy a flashy toy I bought something that comes with an experience, experiences that bring you happiness are far more valuable ! I’ll let you in on a little secret, something I’ve noticed after traveling a good portion of the state of Texas, my level of happiness is consistently at or above the level of happiness of the folks with the “million dollar” rigs ! When you purchase something for the experience at a cost point well within your means it creates a further happiness because the experience is the same but the financial stress is a lot less !

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Beyond the threshold of basic comfort and things that are of value because of the experiences attached, more money at a point is just money. Pretend for a moment that money was a common object , maybe something like a ballpoint pen, having a ballpoint pen is good, perhaps 10 or even 100 is ideal, at what point though is another ballpoint pen just another ballpoint pen ?  Could a ballpoint pen bring you happiness, sure ! Could 100 ball point pens bring you happiness, maybe !  A million ball point pens, not so much ! Would sharing ball point pens make you happy ? Absolutely !  Our cultural obsession with amassing more than we could possibly ever use and thinking that could ever bring us happiness is pretty absurd if you stop and think of it in this way…  At a point increasing the number of 0’s in your bank account will stop having any effect on your happiness, at this point the only thing your bank account can do to increase your level of happiness is to share, be wise in your sharing of course(unwise sharing won’t make you happy), but if you are in a position to share and don’t your level of happiness will not benefit.

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It is my opinion that our purpose on this earth is to help each other to the best of our abilities and of course that doesn’t just apply to money, let’s face it we have so much we can share, time, effort, compassion, happiness, on up to more material physical things, we all have something to share ! Often times money isn’t the answer, the homeless on the corner or the person with few life skills, sure a few dollars might help but isn’t it better to share something of more value if you can, your time, your effort maybe ?

Money doesn’t equal happiness beyond a personal level of comfort ! Sharing anything will make you happy ! Sharing should be a big part of your life if you truly want to be happy ! Everybody is blessed with inborn gifts, everybody has something to share, everybody has something to contribute !

Our world has become very selfish and the irony is that, in a broader sense, being selfish isn’t even self-serving !  We get what we give, it’s the way the world works, it’s the way it has always worked !!  Define your wealth in new terms and share !!

Find your happiness , share your happiness !

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