YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RICH TO BE HAPPY
(An opinion essay)
Does money really buy happiness? Can you buy a feeling? Just think about it. Let’s say, for example, that you have a job where you are making well over $100,000 a year. Notice how I said a job. Not a career, but just a job. A job you don’t like. A job that you took because you saw the dollar signs. Are you happy?
Yes, you can afford to pay all your bills, your mortgage (or your rent), your car, your vacation every summer. You can afford to send your children to the “best of the best” schools. Your wife (or husband) doesn’t have to work because you make enough to provide for the entire family. But are you happy?
You wake up every morning and you get ready for work. You have enough time to spend time with your family before you go in for the 16-hour day in corporate America. You eat breakfast with your family. You walk your kids to the bus stop after your spouse made their lunches for them. And then you get in your car and make the 45-minute commute to work, drinking your second cup of coffee while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic because hey, the paycheck is worth being stressed by the time you arrive at work, right? But are you happy?
You arrive at work and park your car in the company lot. A lot of other employees have already arrived, so you have no choice but to park further away than usual. Then you walk across the lengthy parking lot just to get to the front door of your office building. You walk through the front door, through the lobby, and towards the elevators. You stop and greet a few colleagues with a “good morning” in such a way that people know you’re already stressed. You get on the elevator and take it up to your 12th floor corner office with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the most beautiful lake you’ve ever seen. You sit down and your desk and sigh deeply. You’re already feeling tired and it’s not even 9am yet. You have meetings scheduled for most of the day and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to squeeze a 15-minute lunch in around 1pm. But that’s ok because you just keep thinking of the money you receive directly deposited into your bank account every 2 weeks. So, it’s all worth it, right? But are you happy?
By the time the afternoon rolls around, you’ve had 4 cups of coffee. You still have a few afternoon meetings. You’re hoping to not have to stay until 10pm or midnight tonight. One of your children is in a play at 7pm that you would like to make it too. Another one has a sporting event at 8pm that you would like to make it to. You prioritize everything the best you can, but there are just too many things to complete today. Things that you feel can’t be put off until tomorrow. So, you call your husband (or wife) at 6:30pm and let him (or her) know that there’s just no way that you can make it to either event tonight. You must complete the work because of the deadlines that your boss has set for you. You feel bad. But then you think of your bank account. It's still worth it, right? But are you happy?
You are finally able to leave work when it’s pitch black out. You notice that most of your co-workers have already left. There are very few offices with lights on as you’re making your way to the elevator to go down to the lobby. Your reach the lobby and walk through it to the front door, out the front door and through the dimly lit parking lot to your vehicle. You start the car, text your spouse to let him (or her) know that you’re on your way home. You put on your seatbelt, turn the radio on, and make the 45-minute commute back home. As you’re driving, you realize how exhausted you are. You have to do it all again tomorrow. But the paycheck. Oh my goodness, the paycheck is superb!! But are you happy?
No, you finally realize on the way home. You’re not happy. You’re not happy in the least. In fact, you found the courage to admit to yourself that you are miserable. You work ridiculously long hours. You hardly get to see your spouse or your kids. You’re missing seeing your kids grow up. You’re allowing your job to demand too much from you.
So, you decide to make a change.
You think about things.
You’ve got great skills. You’ve got incredible experience. You’re able to produce a wonderful resume, so you start looking for a career. Not just a job. But an actual career. One that you love. You go on interviews. You’re offered a great supervisor position at a company where you’ll be working 10-hour days, and only 4 days a week. The days in which you have to be in the office, and the hours that are required of you are flexible. But it comes with a pay cut of about $20,000 a year. Can you afford to take the pay cut? Do you want to take the pay cut?
You begin to put things in perspective.
You’ve been working 16 – 18 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, for many years. You’ve missed so much of being able to watch your kids grow up. You missed many of their “firsts” because you were allowing a job to control your life. You were raking in the dough. But you weren’t happy. You missed too many birthdays and anniversaries that you lost count. It’s true that you’ve always been able to purchase expensive gifts, but that didn’t make up for the quality time that you’ve been missing out on. You weren’t happy. You live in a huge house on the ritzy side of an upscale town. You have a top of the line, fully loaded vehicle. So does your spouse. But you only drive it to work and home because you work so much. And you’re not happy. So, you make you decision.
You give notice at your current job. You accept the offer at your career. Within a week, you have not one regret. You’re able to spend more time with your children before they leave to go to school. You are finally able to have an actual conversation with your spouse every day while drinking your coffee. Things don’t appear to be as rushed and as stressful at your career. Management isn’t as demanding. You’re able to eat a real lunch. And you’re able to leave before the sun goes down. No longer do you have to feel guilty about missing after school activities for your children. You can finally spend quality time with your children for their birthdays, and with your spouse for birthdays and anniversaries. You’re happy now.
You looked over your finances and made only minimal adjustments. Adjustments such as $150 cable bill vs $50 on a few streaming services that still provide your family’s favorite channels. Checking your cellular phone bill to make sure you’re on the plan that gives you the best value for your dollar. Checking your internet service to see if it’s worth switching providers. Reviewing your various recurring subscriptions to see if there are any you can downgrade (or even cancel). You’re happy now.
After a few months, you notice a difference. In both your attitude and your bank account. Both are for the better. You notice that the $20,000 pay cut didn’t affect you as much as you thought it would. You noticed that the streaming services are even better than your cable provider was. Your new internet service has the same speed as the prior one (and it costs less). The subscriptions you thought you were going to miss when you cancelled them: you don’t miss them at all. You’re still able to afford everything. You have no issues paying your bills. You work less hours a day. You work less days a week. You’re able to be home for dinner every evening. You’re no longer missing out on the important family time. You’re happy now.
So, does money buy happiness? In my opinion, no. Not true happiness. It can buy temporary happiness like food, gifts, houses, cars, etc. But that happiness fades after a while. There is a much bigger picture. Your real happiness that comes from knowing that the people you love, know you love them. You can’t always show love through buying extravagant gifts. You can show love by being there for your loved ones when it matters most.
You may no longer be rich in money. But you are rich in happiness and love. And that is 100 times better.
You’re happy now.
Truly happy now.
About the Creator
I like to write based on my personal experiences. It helps me clear my mind. We all go through things in life. Good things. Not so good things. My experiences might also help other people with things that they might be going through.
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