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. 🙂

6 Responses to “can money buy happiness?”

  1. You are right of course. Money can’t buy happiness. Only having a purpose (dream?) and goals, a good attitude, a sense of achievement, friends and family can do that.

    However, money can give you opportunity and security. What you do with those is the challenge.

    I would think that living on someone else’s dime robs you of that sense of achievement and self worth unless you give back in your own way. Raising children, volunteering, etc.

    • Definitely true–you need *some* sort of base to get you going–I’m sure I wouldn’t be happy were it not for my shelter, basic food, etc. Taking those into account!

      There is, however, a slippery slope of what “basic” includes, and it’s easy to get caught up.

  2. There is a lot to be said for independence and independence of spirit. Working for things makes them better, more worthwhile. I don’t wish hardship on anyone, but I do wish creativity, resolve, inner strength and determination on anyone who is dealing with hardship. It is amazing how this inner strength can be channeled.
    Seeing someone who is all doom and gloom, when their life isn’t really that terrible is frustrating, but I won’t let their frustration wear me down–I also won’t try to “open their eyes”. If it is going to happen, it is going to have to happen from within.
    I should re-read what I have written, because I don’t want to sound preachy, but hopefully people will read it and think I am just trying to be supportive.

    • Yeah, I used to be preachy myself, but one thing I’ve learned in this life is that you can’t change anyone. People have to have their own epiphany. As I had to, myself. 🙂

  3. I have always thought that adversity builds character. This is why we have so many bored trust fund babies in America. There is a LOT to be said for making it on your own.

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