can money buy happiness?
Well, you certainly need a little, but… lemme explain.
Case study, here. There’s a student on the college campus where I teach who’s about 10 years younger than I am (early 30’s). Two years ago, she was in my nutrition class–she was very bright, but every day was gloom’n’doom. Waaahhh, another day closer to my 30th birthday, she’d say. (Thanks for aging me, I’d think… but whatever!) Isn’t the weather awful? Rain again. Grumble. Cranky. Life is terrible, though I could often say something to at least get her to smile now and then.
I saw her around the halls the following quarter, and asked what classes she was taking, what she planned on doing… (we’re a mostly-2-year school with a few 4-year degrees, so many people move on) She told me she didn’t know, that she’d started the biology majors series, since she’d taken everything pre-nursing and pre-health sciences. But maybe nursing wasn’t the right thing to do. Maybe getting a grad degree in biology. Oh well, she figured she’d just be in school forever, since her husband was the one working and they had no kids.
Wow. Initially, I thought… wouldn’t that be nice, to not have to worry about needing to work, to just piggyback off of someone else’s healthcare, and take whatever classes on a whim.
But as I see this woman still on campus (she is a big part of our free tutoring program and helps the lab techs out), the bitterness has gotten worse. While I once was slightly jealous… I no longer am.
You see, necessity truly is the mother of invention, cliche as that sounds. In needing to scrounge up money to travel/nourish my body/pay medical costs, I’ve been creative with how to best use my talents. And in doing so, I’ve been surprised along the way by other things that I never knew would happen (for instance, I started volunteering at a local theater to see shows for free… and I developed a whole new community in my life!)
So, by having less money, am I happier? (While I’d love to go on long trips every summer….) I think that those who haven’t experienced financial hardship and haven’t truly had to be creative are missing out. 🙂
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Tags: happiness, personal finance, science teaching, teaching