As the Beatles sang in 1964, money can't buy you love (Can't Buy Me Love). Take a listen by clicking on that link if you want to get happy. What do you think of that statement? It sure doesn't keep people from trying, does it? What about the people who have been marginalized or stuck in poverty their entire lives? Wouldn't some money buy them some happiness if they had a place to live and the knowledge that they will have food on their table, assuming they have a table?
Read a little bit about Maslow's Hierarchy of Basic Needs, and you will most certainly find that, without safety, food, and shelter, there is little likelihood that someone will be able to find any self-worth, self-esteem, or, most certainly, any self-actualization. I have a friend who talks about living out of her car for about a year, and she said she was just grateful to have a car. Most of us can't even imagine living in such a state in which we don't know from where our next meal might come. So, for people in poverty like that, having some money would most certainly allow for the ability to focus on a bit of happiness and a lot less fear.
We've all, most likely, heard of studies about money and happiness. Most of those studies show that money doesn't actually do the job of buying happiness. One study showed that, past an annual family income of $75,000, there is a law of diminishing returns. In other words, past that, you likely don't get any happier if you make $300,000 than if you make 1/3 of that (hush---I know the math isn't exact----it wasn't meant to be a word problem----don't judge). But $75,000 is a world away from what people who are homeless or living in the abject poverty are likely experiencing.
What about those of us who might not have bought the ticket in Chicago that just made someone a billionaire last night in the Mega Millions jackpot? Are you unhappy about not winning? Is that person going to be happier? I would bet a good bit (not that it would make me happier if I won the bet....just sayin') that the person is extremely elated today. But, I mean that is just "stupid money", as Dave calls it, as it is money that we can't even fathom ever needing or having enough wants to spend it on. But we've also all heard of those lottery winners who squander their winnings and actually end up in debt. That doesn't sound very cheery to me.
So, what is it that makes you happy? For me, it is my loved ones (in addition to my serenity and spirituality, which, for me, go without saying). Dave and I have been traveling with the pups this week, and we had the chance to go back to Florida, where we lived for 17 years. We visited with friends who Dave worked with; friends I worked with; and other friends who we spent a lot of time with (some we called our AKC club ---- All Kids Canine----as none of us had human children).
Our main purpose was to visit with one of my dearest friends (truly my soul sister) on the planet to talk about life and death as she traverses one of the toughest journeys any one of us could ever face (have I mentioned how much I hate cancer with a passion?). She and I got to hug and love on each other and talk about what comes next. Kelly is someone with whom I worked and who made work a place of laughter----I mean, laugh out loud, from the belly, laughter-----with just a look or a quip.
We spent one entire evening catching up with work and play friends. Lance, who was the PE teacher when I was the principal at Edge Elementary School, and I got to talk about how much fun working together on the bus ramp was. He happens to be one of the people that so added to the culture of the best elementary school in the world (it's not biased if it's true, right?) by his mere presence and sense of camaraderie. We still text each other silly jokes, and it's been 10 years since I resigned.
One of my former co-workers (I truly did feel we were all working together, despite me having the title of principal) told me she loved that I told her I loved her about 6 times in the approximately 2 hours we spent together. I told the teachers with whom I worked that I brag about them all the time when I am teaching educators and educational leaders (I tell them about how Jil used the death of a little boy's grandmother as an example of how a character in a story felt and had her students write on whiteboards a feeling word the student likely felt; I tell them about how Brandi talked to her students like they were her own children; I tell them about how Jenny used puppets to help her teach certain Kinder concepts; I tell them about how Angelle was likely the world's best Writer's Workshop facilitator; I tell them about how Shelley used hula-hoops to teach her 5th graders about Venn diagrams; and I tell them about how the person most people would have called "my secretary", Cindy, has become like a big sister to me. She and her hubby are who Dave and I (and the pups) stayed with while we were there, and she is likely one of the biggest confidantes I've ever had in my life. If something ever happens to Dave, she will very likely be one of the first people next to me, helping me with anything and everything that needs to be done. These are "my people", and they make me happy.
Have I ever mentioned that I am a textbook introvert? Despite being extremely passionate about presenting workshops, keynotes, webinars, and classes for people all over the world about education and cultures of trust in the workplace, I am a classic introvert. Most people confuse "extrovert" with being able to be around tons of people. I am "able" to be around 25 of my closest friends whom I love and adore, and I can say at the end of a day of teaching, "That was the best day ever" because we laughed and joked so much, but I still am an introvert. Why? Being an introvert or extrovert is about from where we derive our energy, not where we expend it. I derive my energy from sitting on the porch of the mountain "cabin" of one of my dearest friends from college (thank you, Cid), reading a book, sitting and listening to the wind as it rustles the leaves, or hearing the sound of the Blue Ridge train as it choo-choos through the mountains. Being alone or with one other person (Dave or another one of "my people") gives me just the energy needed to be revved up and ready to teach in a couple of weeks in Nebraska, then virtually, then in Wyoming----all in one week.
And that, my friends, is what makes me happy. The temporary trappings of this world are pretty darn tempting, for sure, and I get caught up in that more frequently than I would like to admit to you. However, the feeling of my heart growing two sizes when able to spend quality time with my quality people is a feeling that is second to none.
What makes you happy? I would love to hear your happiness generators, if you would be willing to share. In the meantime, I pray you are with people you love and doing what you love to do and were not counting on winning the Mega Millions in order to become happy.