[Note from editor: This post was originally posted on The Table Less Travelled]
Ironically, as I was on the subject of “money can’t buy happiness” last week, I happened to read the next chapter of my book “The Happiness Project” whose topic was Buy Some Happiness. The author, Gretchen Rubin, is on a yearlong quest to find what makes her happier and she says, “Money satisfies basic material needs. It’s a means and an end. It’s a way to keep score, win security, exercise generosity, and earn recognition…It buys time – which can be spent on aimless drifting or purposeful action. It often stands for the things that we feel are lacking: if only we had the money, we’d be adventurous or thin or cultured or respected or generous.”
I agree with her that money alone can’t buy happiness, but it can help buy happiness. The author says “Money, spent wisely, can support happiness goals of strengthening relationships, promoting health…having fun.” To me, money does indeed buy things that make me happier – a gift that I can send to a friend for their birthday, a plane ticket home to spend time with my family, covering transportation costs of extensive travel, buying food that gives me so much joy and pleasure.
The author also mentions that, “When money or health is a problem, you think of little else; when it’s not a problem, you don’t think much about it. Both money and health contribute to happiness mostly in the negative; the lack of them brings much more unhappiness than possessing them brings happiness.” Preach! Whenever I feel like I have a sufficient amount of Benjamins stashed away I feel free, more giving, more open to opportunities or adventures that arise, and generally less worried. When my bank account starts depleting and I see more withdrawals than deposits, I feel anxiety, uncertainty, risk-averse, and quite frankly more like a hermit.
I’m thankful that I was raised in a family where I was taught the value of a dollar, and taught about hard work and dedication. But as I’ve aged (just a bit), it’s been harder for me to manage the balance between working and playing. Yesterday, as I lied on the beach soaking up a “play now” break, I was reminded of the beauty of working hard to achieve your goals. And the satisfaction and happiness that comes from knowing how much effort you’ve put in to receive something you truly cherish.
A young boy (maybe 9 years old), approached us on the beach with a backpack slung over his arms, resting on his stomach. Beads of sweat trickled down from under his bucket hat as he asked my boyfriend if we’d like to buy some lemonade from him. As I dug around for the equivalent of 75 cents for a small cup of lemonade, the boy shared with my boyfriend that he’s saving up money to go to Brazil for his Bar Mitzvah. My heart melted and I wanted to buy the whole thermos. He trotted off looking for his next prospective customers, targeting the women in the area – smart kid.
As he walked away, marching in the heavy sand under the hot Israeli summer sun, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of happiness. If this was my son, I would be so proud of his efforts, dedication, and hard work. I’m sure by the time he’s 13 he’ll have enough money for that trip to Brazil – and can you imagine how proud and happy he will be?
This young boy was a needed inspiration for me to remember that creativity and hard work can launch you towards achieving your goals a lot quicker than sitting around and thinking about them. It’s very few and far between that somebody stumbles upon the luck to become wealthy, successful or accomplished without shedding some blood, sweat and tears.
Today is a reminder for you that not all things come easily, and not all things should come easily. Buckle down, go to work, and focus on accomplishing your goals. Don’t let the fear of hard work stand in the way of your achievements.