Can money buy happiness? The short answer: Yes, money can buy happiness. Give me a million dollars, and trust me, I am a happy camper, BUT, follow it up with million-dollar accounts payable, not so much. The problem is one of definition, not only of happiness but of what we as human beings actually seek, which, surprisingly enough, may not be happy.
Two words that are used interchangeably, and should not be, are “happiness” and “joy.”
A Couple of Definitions
Happiness is an evanescent feeling or temporary state of being, which is easily determined by external forces and external people. Over 100 billion dollars was spent last year by people trying to grab that brass ring, which is even more elusive than the ones on the merry go round, and yet, even as so many of us are stuck on that same merry go round, the few who actually grab the ring, those few who actually hit those lottery riches, are usually broke within a few years. Did money buy them happiness? Oh yes, it did, but ironically, the question arises, “At what price?”
Now, what about that word, “joy”? Joy is a gift of The Spirit, which allows us to realize that through all of life’s ups and downs, through the turmoil and the din and, yes, through the wonderful times, our loving God is constantly and consistently with us and guiding us to Him. It is the gift that NO amount of money can buy and which no lack of money can take away. One can give it away. The curious thing is that if it is given away in a spirit of selflessness, the giver actually somehow still retains the gift—even after having actually given it away. Hmm.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
Are we sure money can’t buy joy? Ask the millionaires who have committed suicide or the millionaires in our nation’s prisons. Look at the lives of so many actors, athletes, rappers, singers, and public figures who have almost profane amounts of money, who buy houses in which they don’t live, cars that they don’t drive, spouses who divorce them and then spend their lives trying to get more and more money from them, to buy things that they can’t use, don’t need, and in the end, bring them no joy.
It is interesting to note that money seems to be more valuable when it is given away. A wise man once said, “There are two kinds of people—givers and takers. The takers eat really well, but the givers sleep really well.” That same class of actors, athletes, rappers, singers, and public figures always seems to be in joyful peace when they are giving away their money.
I will leave you with three thoughts from my book; A Magic Man Looks At Life:
Shun desperation–desperately seek inspiration!
There will always be naysayers and doom seekers who squeeze every positive breath out of you–spiritual Smokey Bears, who will immediately try to stamp out any positive fire or spark in your life. Newspapers, magazines, and television make millions of dollars telling us how bad off we all are and how we all are going to perish–imminently. If you think they are right, then don’t even finish this book; just go kill yourself right now. Go on! Do it! Well? What, you haven’t done it yet?
Then, deep down, you must realize that there is still hope. Well, there is much more than just hope. Look around you. Listen carefully through the din. Great things are happening–every day. Amazing discoveries are made; children who will be heroes are born; children who are heroes save lives; seemingly small actions done by seemingly small people positively change others’ lives forever–every day. And don’t wait to be inspired. Hunger for it. Look for it in every nook and cranny.
Oddly enough, inspiration is usually not that far away–a word of wisdom on an office bulletin board, an observation by a friend, a great performance by one of your favorite actors, a clergyman’s sermon, a grandparent’s story about “the old days.”
Crave inspiration and demand it–every day. Be an inspiration junkie. Inspiration doesn’t cost you anything; desperation costs you your very soul. Desperation stagnates, suffocates, and buries you. Expect to be inspired. Many times, the expectation alone will buoy you up until the realization arrives. Inspiration not only gives you the strength to survive but the will to reach even higher.
Never miss a chance to celebrate!
There are wondrous events going on around us every day–lives being saved, lives just beginning, honor rolls being made, dreams being fulfilled, songs being sung, poems being written, first dates, first kisses, first jobs, retirement parties, birthday parties and good old fashioned for no particular reason parties. Celebrate for yourself or for someone else. It doesn’t really matter. If you get into the habit of never missing a chance to celebrate, you’ll find it all brings you joy. And if you find you have too much joy, take the excess, spread it around, and celebrate that!
We are children of a glorious God who has filled the world with wonders. Drink the fine wine and squash the sour grapes!
And the final nail in the coffin of money buying happiness.
The measure of a man’s wealth is not the money he makes with his change, but rather the changes he makes with his money.