Understanding Socialism – Lesson 4: Money and Happieness

Money can’t buy happiness.

Don’t you just LOVE that phrase?!  I mean, it just puts a warm and fuzzy feeling in your gut to hear someone say that.  It means that the things in life that bring a person true happiness are not monetary and cannot be bought and sold.

Since there have been rich people in America, this saying has been around.  It’s almost like some sort of counter-attack.  It declares to the wealthy, “Look!  You only THINK you are happy with your millions of dollars and all of your stuff!  Well, I’M rich in a way you can never be!  I have the things in life that REALLY matter.  You’ll never be able to buy the happiness I have no matter HOW much money you have!”

Take that, big-wigs!  Yea!  Just saying such a thing makes even the poorest person feel like they are on top of the world.  Well, it’s time to crash back down to reality because the statement ‘money can’t buy happiness’ isn’t COMPLETELY true.

Notice I said COMPLETLEY in that statement.  I will recognize the fact that there is a good amount of truth to this belief.  After all, money can’t buy love (real love, not ‘I’ll marry you because you’re rich,’ love.  That’s just money buying you sex packaged with a lifetime of annoyances).  Money doesn’t buy long and lasting friendships.  It CAN buy ‘false’ friendships; the people who love you when you’re rich but wouldn’t give a damn about you if you suddenly turned penniless.

No, money cannot, and will never be able to, buy you those kinds of things.  And those ARE the things in life that bring real happiness.  That is the part of this tried-and-true declaration that works.  So, what about money DOES make you happy?  Well, it’s simple…

Money let’s you ENJOY the things that make you happy.

I can hear the thoughts going through some of your heads already.  “There Joe goes again, being a capitalist jerk who’s as shallow as a half-filled Petrie dish.  He thinks I can’t ACTUALLY enjoy my friends and family unless I’m loaded!”  Well, calm down and let me explain.  I’m not saying you CAN’T enjoy your friends and family without money; I’m saying that money gives you more OPPORTUNITY to.

It all comes down to the world’s biggest antagonist to happiness.  There is no greater force out there combating against true happiness in this world.  I’m talking of course, about STRESS!  Stress is the anti-happy.  Stress is the thing that, more than anything else in the world, keeps us from being happy and a daily basis.

Well, what’s making us stressed?  Take some time right now to do an experiment.  Take out a sheet of paper and grab a pen.  Just start listing EVERYTHING that stresses you out.  Just come clean.  List everything that has brought you even the smallest amount of stress in the last week or month or so and BE HONEST!  Go on and make your list, I’ll wait.

*Cue soothing hold music*

Done?  Okay, look at your list.  If you’re a student, I’m sure tests, papers and anything involving peer pressure are on your list.  If you’re a professional, you might have some work related stresses with deadlines or whatnot.  BUT I have a theory as to the rest of the list.  Go over what you wrote and put a check next to each and every one that would instantly go away if I were to give you a check for $1million.

Do you have some debt that’s keeping you up at night?  How about mortgage and credit card payments?  Perhaps you’re between jobs and are worrying about getting hired somewhere.  Is insurance on your list anywhere?  Are you prepared for the unexpected?  If you or someone you love were to suffer a (crap, I’m starting to sound like a MetLife commercial.  Is that Snoopy dancing in the corner?).

The point is that money (or more a LACK of money) leads to stress.  We have to pay for things to live.  We need to buy EVERYTHING; from the basics (food, clothing, shelter and heat) to the preparatory (insurance, retirement and emergency savings).  The fact is simple; living = spending.

So, how does this apply to the things that bring TRUE happiness (the family, friends and whatnot)?  Well, it’s rather simple.  The less you’re stressing, the more you get to enjoy those things that make you happy.  The fact is that money will never bring happiness, but it WILL REMOVE stress, and stress is the enemy of happiness.

When was the last time you went on a family vacation?  Have you done it recently?  Could you afford to go, say, next month to Disney world?  Is that financially possible for you?  Being rich would sure make that a lot more realistic, don’t you think?

I know you’re thinking it, so I’ll go ahead and say it.  “Joe, how dare you!  It doesn’t matter what I’m doing with my family just as long as I have them around!  We don’t HAVE to do expensive things to enjoy each other’s company!”  Okay, fair enough, you’re right.  BUT, if you’re penniless and in debt, just what ARE you doing with your family?  Chances are, you’re sitting across the kitchen table from your spouse with all the bills laid out in front of you, trying to decide what you can pay now and what can wait.  I’m sure there’s quite a bit of frowning, sighing and maybe even crying going.  Believe me, I’ve been in that situation many times.  I’m with my wife whom I love dearly and am happy to be with, but I’m DEFINATLY not happy!

You’re with your family, but I can bet you’re not happy.  Why are you not happy?  BECAUSE YOU’RE STRESSED!  Let’s throw that $1million check into the picture.  What are you going to do with it?  I’m sure the FIRST thing you’re going to do is make all those stresses vanish!  After all, they’re what are blocking your happiness!  You’d probably go on a big vacation or something afterward but that’s beside the point.  You would be doing things with your family that DON’T INVOLVE STRESS!  That means you can be HAPPY with those that MAKE YOU HAPPY!

This goes back to the American dream.  It’s not about being rich just for the sake of being rich, it’s about being wealthy enough to remove the stress from your life.  Imagine what life would be like if you had no debt.  Sound’s nice to me.  What about assurance that if an emergency happened, you could easily take care of it.  What a relief!

A rich person who lives alone with his possession is not happy.  On that note, I think we can all agree, but neither is a loving family living in poverty and worrying about just getting what they need to survive.  People say ‘money can’t buy happiness’ because happiness isn’t a purchasable thing.  However, money destroys stress and stress blocks happiness.  THAT is the connection between money and happiness.

Every year, many loving relationships end because of money.  It’s not that the two people don’t love each other.  It’s because stress has gotten in the way so much that they are not able to experience that love.  The number one destroyer of marriages is money issues (followed by hot secretaries).  Now, it is also worth mentioning that too MUCH money can ALSO ruin a marriage, but that is the fault of the people losing sight of their priorities.  It is perfectly possible to be very wealthy and truly happy, but I stand firm on the fact that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be truly happy and in poverty (actual poverty, not what the U.S Census calls poverty.  According to the U.S Census people, American’s can have a color T.V, two cars and a three story house and still be in “poverty” ).

This fact is based on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  It depicts in pyramid form of the path to happiness each person goes on.  At the base is always taking care of the basics; food, clothing and shelter.  Once the base is set, you can move onto safety and security.  Only once those two are set can we start to look for those things that bring “real” happiness.

Our relationships CAN bring us happiness, but, like a pyramid, they will crumble if the base isn’t strong.  Food, clothing, shelter and security form that base and they can ONLY come from being financially secure.  Money doesn’t make you happy, but it DOES make it POSSIBLE to be happy.

In my next lesson, we’re going to explore the current state of America and find out just how socialistic we’ve already become.  That’s all in lesson 5: Are we already there?

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