Lately, money has been the topic of discussion since it’s the end of the month and bills need to be paid. I’m not a big fan of this topic, but it got me thinking about the relationship between money and happiness. How much do you really need to be happy? I guess it’s different for everyone. Here’s how I see it.
I ride the train to work with folks in expensive suits and shiny shoes, but their faces are anything but shining. They do not look happy. By the look on their faces it seems that the train is headed somewhere terrible. At any moment, I expect the conductor to get on the loud speaker and announce – “Next stop: Hell. Stand by for Hell please”.
After work I head to the gym and I notice that the kid that cleans the gym floor is wearing a huge smile on his face again. Why is he so happy? He doesn’t earn anywhere near as much as the affluent looking bunch I ride the train with.
Of course, if I looked hard enough I could find a happy rich dude in a suit and a pissed off gym floor cleaner, but the point I am trying to make is that money doesn’t always go hand in hand with happiness.
You can’t argue that everybody needs to be able to afford living expenses and other necessities to be happy. But, once those requirements are met I feel that more cash and acquiring more “stuff” aren’t always necessary to be happy.
Happiness means different things to different people. If it means a mansion, a yacht, and 4 Mercedes then that’s cool! But, when I think of things that really make me happy for some reason they’re all free. Here’s a short list of what I consider happiness.
Walking (out of doors)
To quote one of my favorite genius dead guys – “No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession (walking)”. – Henry David Thoreau
Walking, hiking or in my case, wandering means a great deal of freedom and it’s great for mental and physical health. Research shows that the human body is designed for walking and that people tend to think more clearly and develop ideas better while walking.
Walking puts me at ease because I am not toiling with some useless task. I am simply enjoying my surroundings and observing the world around me. These outings always turn into an adventure. Drop me on a path in the woods somewhere and I am happy as a clam!
Spending time with my favorite people
My time is priceless, especially, when I spend it with my favorite people. Nothing makes me happier than just chilling out with my hunnie or hanging out in the backyard with my dad. It so simple and all you have to do is appreciate it to be happy.
I believe that the happiest people are those that can actually be content with simply being in the moment with only the company of their own thoughts.
If you really want to challenge yourself try doing nothing for a day. It is much harder than it seems. We are programmed to think that we need to be doing something at all times, as we robotically check off the to-do list, whether it’s at work or at home.
What if we just put everything on hold for a day? If you didn’t answer your phone, check email, or go shopping for a day, would the world come to an end? It would be pretty funny if it did.
I don’t think I can explain why reading makes me happy without sounding like a total nerd so I’ll just let it stand on its own 🙂
Reading is free too if you venture into that old building down the street called “The Public Library”. I’m a bit disappointed that books are now a dying breed, as millions of people now only read using an electronic reading device such as a Kindle or Nook. I guess I’m an old soul because I still love having the actual book in my hands.
The free happiness list goes on and most of items on the list have a common theme – simplicity and appreciation for specific things. What things make you happy?
4 thoughts on “Happiness is Free”
Thank you for a wonderful essay on the way life was intended to be. We are responsible for creating our own happiness. It’s free and it’s available. Good conversation, love of freinds and family, smiling at strangers, my dog meeting me at the door, the lawn after it’s cut, the roses growing outside my window, the birds making a racket at the feeders in the back yard, tomatoes growing, a walk along the Susquehanna River, a starry night sky – are some things that make my life happy.
I don’t make a lot of money (Northeast PA!) but enough to get by, which I’m extremely grateful for. So when the bottom falls out, I don’t have far to drop. I’ll land on my feet. And that makes me happy, too.
Well said, Marcella. I’m glad you get where I’m comin from. These are great examples. I really like the ‘dog meeting me at the door’ example.
Our cats (with dog personalities) meet us at the door too. Amos grew another foot. Pretty soon we will have a lion.
It seems for many people, the pursuit of happiness involves money… and lots of it! Big toys, big homes, big bling! But as you state, they are not happy people but miserable people. Plenty of unhappy people out there eh? I’m not saying I’m the happiest of people but I’d rather be working as a lowly art director at an ad agency with the ability to go home and see my wife and kids at supper than some CEO making millions of dollars, living out of hotels with the trophy wife sitting at home with my Lamborghinis and Ferraris… and the pool boy!
@Marcella… I too live in Northeast PA!
the pool boy haha! I’m not saying don’t work at all and become a hippie (although that sounds pretty good). I’m saying – strike the right balance between work and play and find time to be with the people you care about