Life’s not all joy. It’s not just unicorns and lebricorns and other kinds of corns, especially not candy corns.
It’s frustration and complications and compromises, too.
Sometimes we need to make tough decisions as life slaps us in the face. With a brick.
And that’s when we have to remember that other people’s lives suck, too.
4 truths about happiness
#1. Money Makes You Happier
There’s a scene in Forest Gump in which our beloved lead shrugs about all the money he made and says “it was just one less thing.”
I love this line.
People say money can’t bring happiness and that joy will stem from other parts of life; friends, passions, dreams coming true …
This is correct.
It’s also dead wrong.
You realize what’s ruining your day, right?
The lunch you have to make for either yourself or your children.
The dust coming to life in the corners, partying with the spiders. Even the broom is so nasty you don’t even want to bring a vacuum-cleaner near it for fear of it being corrupted.
And what about these things;
The leaking sink that’s slowly damaging your floors.
A movie you need to get your hands on because someone told you to watch it.
You’re having some friends over and are out shopping for some quality food but you also need to pay the phone bill this week.
You want to get in shape but can’t afford a new swim suit or running shoes or a membership.
All the ladder problems could be fixed with money.
There’s a quadrillion things every day that tax our energy which could be fixed by flinging some dollar bills in this or that direction.
Are you one of the people that count all their money, too?
Imagine if you didn’t need to do that!
In Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 1 Tyrion and Bronn, his hired sellsword, have an interesting conversation:
Bronn: “I need more money. My pockets go empty.”
Tyrion: “I thought we were friends.”
Bronn: “We are! But I’m a sellsword. I sell my sword.”
Tyrion: “How much?”
Tyrion: “Double?! You’re a sellsword!”
Bronn: “I’m a knight now. Knights are double.”
Tyrion: “I don’t even know how much I’m paying you now.”
Bronn: “That means you can afford it.”
Bronn’s point is valid – if you don’t need to think twice about someone’s payment you can afford it.
Up to the point of financial freedom, money will bring you more happiness merely because it continually checks things off the “worry list”. For instance, my sister gets a larger debt each day because she’s trapped in an expensive apartment. Some more money would definitely make her life easier.
There’s nothing wrong with being happier because of more money. Money gives freedom because having enough means you can be a “yes”-person.
When one of my friends asked me to come to Malaga with her I could say “yeah, I’m not doing anything.”
And when I wanted to go to America for a road trip (I just bought the ticket! So excited.) I could wiggle my credit card and voila.
I’m not saying I didn’t feel the financial blow as though an elite boxer just punched me in the gut. I did. But it’s so worth it.
Don’t feel bad about making money, or liking to spend money. Don’t let anybody call you a sellout. Those people probably never had to pay anything ever. You need food on your table.
When life sucks, when that brick hits you, the fewer other bricks there are to land on the better.
Disclaimer: Many of the burdens mentioned could be lessened by mindfulness or positive thinking, but then I ask you to consider the broken sink, the moving trunk, the pricy medicine etc. etc.
Money makes things easier, but of course it’s no excuse to forget that many “smaller” worries can vanish with a smile.
#2. When The Going Gets Tough, Observe Thy Neighbor
As said, money can’t check off all the worries. There’s all the stuff that you wish you could buy a solution for – and totally would – but can’t.
Have you noticed how everybody have some sort of ailment? Trust me, you just need to get to know them well enough, and it’s always something that makes you go “damn!”
My grandmother was recently submitted to the hospital and not long prior to that my grandfather was in there with a heart problem as well.
I proposed that maybe he should start drinking water, knowing that the man hasn’t touched anything but liquor and coffee for decades.
“I’d rather go to the hospital every other year,” was his response.
Ah, well, whatever keeps you happy. After all, being unhappy will cut your lifespan by as much as being obese will. (I really hope you’re not obese and unhappy. That seems like a very bad combo and you need a hug.)
Let me give some more examples of other people’s sucky illnesses:
I have a cold eczema on my hand. It itches like hell.
A friend of mine struggles with fungi on her foot.
My brother and mother didn’t know they had zinc deficiency for years and dealt with major sleep problems, sometimes going for days without sleep.
My father is allergic to DUST.
A friend has knee problems that might come back any moment if he overexerts himself.
When it rains so much that the world outside becomes a crappy VHS recording, when it’s cold and you just ate a bunch of chocolate and your allergies are acting out because fuck you just remember that somewhere, out there, someone’s suffering way more than you.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to be in pain. You do.
But I should hope that you would in all ways be inclined to try to be happy. So try thinking of all the ailments you don’t have.
#3. It’s All About Priorities
I love traveling. I love health. I love writing.
Naturally these are the things I spend the most money on.
How do I afford it?
I only buy clothes when in dire need. I never go to cafés. When I want to hang with some friends I invite them over or go visit them, which also means that it doesn’t feel weird to stay for longer than the time it takes to empty a tiny cup of coffee.
The key to happiness is to ignore society’s norms and figure out what makes you happy. Can you be happy in a crappy apartment? Great! Live there! Use your money on something else instead!
Until you’re financially liberated, prioritizing is an important skill to learn.
#4. It’s All In Your Head
Your focus distorts the world. If you’re in a gutter and a cat just pissed on you, granted, your situation doesn’t look good. I don’t see how you can suspend belief enough to make that a positive one – and I don’t think you should.
But a positive focus with a rational sense of realism can get you a long way. See options instead of obstacles. See the nice weather instead of the bowl of cereal that’s become all-mooshy-not-crunchy from being submerged in milk too long because your dad wanted you to take out the trash.
You know the drill – mindfulness and all that.
And so does money, looking at other people’s shit and priorities.
What are things you’ve discovered about being happy that you may not have thought of before? Are there ways to be happy that aren’t socially acceptable (like money)? What do people expect will make you happy that you just don’t care about? (Me: jewelry)