Happiness isn’t always defined by the money in your wallet

Money can’t buy happiness. Sorta…

They say money can’t buy happiness, and “they” must be right; after all it’s not just one individual telling me this. It’s “they”: a body of people who have collectively decided this to be fact. But is it?

We all know money isn’t everything, yet money is involved in almost everything. This makes it somewhat foolish to say its influence doesn’t extend into our happiness, because it does.

So far the happiest three minutes of my day took place as I downed a cup of Golden French Toast Coffee with soy milk and honey from the Bean and Bagel this morning after a blisteringly cold walk to campus in four-degree weather.

When the first drop hit my tongue endorphins ran through my brain like Usain Bolt on one of those automatic walkways they have in airports. Do you know how I came to acquire that beverage? I purchased it with United States currency.

Perhaps I’m taking the old cliché too literally. What it might really be trying to get at is that true permanent tranquility (if there is such a thing) can’t simply be bought and sold as a commodity. This is true.

However, that doesn’t mean that money is absent from the equation. Like everything in our world, it’s a grey area. In order for a human to reach that state of nirvana (or as close as they can) money is no doubt going to be involved. Period.

There are many types of happiness: for example, eating a Twizzler versus accomplishing a long-term goal. One delights and the other fulfills; both are manifestations of happiness.

Money is far more applicable to the small delights in life because they often, like a chewy strawberry-flavored candy, are purchased. It’s fulfillment that supports the old proverb. But can you think of one life-long passion that doesn’t involve money in absolutely any way, shape or form?

I’m presuming that many people if pressed on the subject would say love is the greatest source of true happiness. However, love (whatever you personally define it as) doesn’t take you out of our physical world into another dimension where wallets are no longer needed.

Most people, I would assume, have more sources of pleasure in their lives than the affection of others alone. Golf perhaps, Harry Potter books, maybe listening to a favorite band.

Albeit given the choice between all the children’s fiction and vinyls in the world or a loved one, I would say the average non-psychopath (me included) would choose the loved one.

However that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be happier if they were provided with their leisures alongside their companions.

I don’t want to put down the importance of loved ones. On the contrary I think friends and family are some of the richest sources of happiness, but if I can’t earn enough money to attend college where I can spend time with my friends or become financially stable enough to take care of my parents when they age, those rich sources wouldn’t be mined to their fullest potential.

I’m not saying money should dictate all your life decisions, but pretending that it doesn’t play an important role in your pursuit of a fulfilling existence is flat out absurd.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures Americans spend about $50 billion on lottery games annually, and it’s not because they love scratching paper with coins. Money allows us to purchase things that (given we make wise decisions) can improve our lives.

Another old saying comes to mind when discussing this one; money makes the world go ‘round. I suppose we could get by without it, but trying to figure out how many sheep I should trade my old guitar for seems nonsensical, so I think legal tender was a good thing for our society to regulate.

Don’t ignore the people that care about you most to focus on a deadening career that you despise to earn a six-figure salary that you presume will somehow supply you with happiness in the end, but do be smart with your money because it has an undeniably vital role to play in your life, whether you like it or not.


Eric Walker can be contacted at ewalker@keene-equinox.com


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