How Expensive is This Happiness Thing?

They say that money can’t buy happiness, but I only halfway agree.

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True; money doesn’t directly purchase a meaningful relationship with another person, a healthy child who grows up to support and love you, the satisfaction of completing a challenging job, nor creating something with your own hands.

It does pay for the braces, beauty products, restaurant food, cell phones, wedding, new spouse’s parents’ costs, anniversaries, random presents, midlife marriage counseling, throw pillows, curtains, rediscovery vacations, and all the ending of life costs -that facilitate a meaningful relationship with another person.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

think I’m saying money is necessary for happiness. You can’t be happy with no money to speak of or not enough for your needs. Heck, life’s difficult with not enough to cover the cost of a few wants, too.

What about a couple who really wants to have a child, yet can’t afford expensive IVF treatments or adoption? Or that retired guy who just wants a place to live amongst ever-rising house prices? Or the kids who grow up with terrible friends in a bad neighborhood because the parents worked two jobs, put them in the local (awful) daycare, could not pay for sports programs, and felt too depressed themselves to listen to their children’s needs?

Are they happy?

I know, I know. Mr. Optimist says they could be. They could find their happy place even in a sad, little, dark corner of the world in which they sit with rising medical costs for a genetic disease that prevents them from working so they can’t even buy decent housing and food nor meet anyone who wants to be friends.

…That may have been Sadness talking.

To play my own devil’s advocate, the reverse of my argument may also be true. I mean, I have enough money. I live a really cushy life compared to most people in the world. Yet, I’m not happy. A good chunk of that is beating myself up for not being happy despite having such an easy life, but we might want to get into that in another post.

I believe my point is that money is essential for happiness. One needs to spend it in the right way and with the right attitude, but cannot be happy without it.

What do you think?

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Think about it and let me know. For now, here’s my previous week, free of charge:
Wednesday, January 23: Several helpful friends helped solve whodunit in “It’s All a Mystery.”
Thursday, January 24: “The Cure for Depression: Connect with a Human,” the first tip in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, January 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to D. Wallace Peach!
Saturday, January 26: Announced the tenth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Enter it!
And, “Insided Out,” self-reflection at an internal, emotional level.
Sunday
, January 27: “Grandma’s Tears” for Carrot Ranch‘s flash fiction prompt.
Monday, January 28: A great quote from Len about love and marriage.
Tuesday, January 29: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty One.”
Also, “A Head Start on the Day?” at my mothering blog.
Wednesday, January 30: Today!

It’s All A Lie

I just love life aphorisms. I love them about as much as the daily grind of housework that regenerates every five seconds.

“Don’t worry; everyone feels that way.”

Really? If everyone felt the way I do, the world would be on fire. At the very least, I would not see so many smiling people getting out of the house and purchasing avocados for their lunch break.

In an actual session, my counselor voiced this advice. “I don’t think that’s true,” I countered. “Most people, when asked about a recent vacation, don’t go on about world disparity.” She laughed, and I noticed she didn’t disagree. Face it: everyone does not feel the way I do.

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“People will love you for who you are.”

No, people will not. People sense or see or smell the negative vibes emanating from my socially-anxious person before I even speak about world disparity. I see it in the falter of their smile (if it was there), in the excuse to go… anywhere and get out of the conversation.

Close family members are the only ones to use “love” with me, and do so with hesitation. I can tell they expect that world-burning explosion part of me to bite them in response. I probably ought to stop doing that…

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“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

Yeah, maybe after the laundry is done. Even then, ‘anything I set my mind to’ is probably going to be an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom.

I’ve thought of writing a bestseller, but that requires daycare and emotional stress on family life. I’ve considered a job outside the house, but that requires daycare and emotional stress on family life. I’ve also toyed around with going back to school, but that requires an insane amount of debt and daycare and emotional stress on family life.

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“We only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

I regret everything. I second-guess myself before the chance, during it, and after it’s passed.

Besides, in my profession as mother, I can’t simply decide to be a roving gypsy. Child Protective Services frowns upon decisions like that.

 

Perhaps good advice works; you know, for ‘everyone.’ For me and others who may view things similarly, what do you say? “Tomorrow is another day?” Of course it is, stupid. Yesterday was another day, too.

There’s got to be an evolutionary advantage to cynicism, right?

It Could Always Be Worse

She lay on the bed, pregnant and bored. She wasn’t to move, the doctor had said. “Let’s see how things go with complete bedrest,” he’d told her.

“Easy for him to say,” she grumbled, shifting. He was walking around. He had a job, his health, and the fact that he’d never be pregnant in his life. It’s not like she’d asked for this time around to be high-risk.

“It could always be worse,” her husband said, kissing her before going to work. He tousled the hair of their first child on the way out, oblivious to their son’s fully wet diaper and hunger whines. “Try making a list of what you’re grateful for,” he added, then popped out the door to work.

Her mother came in. “Oh, Sammy, you need a change,” she told her grandson. Scooping him up; she, too, headed out the door. “I’ll bring you breakfast in half an hour, dear,” she called back to her pregnantly-prone daughter.

Thinking hard, the bedrested woman pulled out her notebook. Maybe she did need a better attitude. It wasn’t like having a poor one helped her situation at all. “I’ll list all the reasons why it’s good I’m home, and not in a hospital,” she decided.

She began with, “1. Able to see my son every day.” By the time toast and eggs arrived, she’d gotten to, “15. No nurses waking me up all night long for tests.”

That night, her placenta previa worsened. She was checked into the hospital, to stay until her due date: five weeks hence, at the earliest.


“I can’t get to work,” he coughed into the phone. He sounded like Darth Vader with asthma.

“We-e-e-ell, I’m sorry you’re sick, but I need you there,” was the reply. His boss sounded cheerful, well-rested. “You see, I’m off tonight, and we’re short-staffed if you don’t make it.” He heard swallowing; a satisfied exhale.

Shifting the cell phone to his less-congested ear, he eyed the bottle of cold medicine he’d been able to pick up a half hour ago. It recommended against operating heavy machinery. It suggested he might be dizzy while taking it. He wished it had a warning about trying to function at all.

“Look,” he croaked out, “I have a fever and can’t breathe. I just started this medication and it recommends against driving.” He coughed to the side, then thought to cough closer to the receiver. “I don’t know what you want me to do.”

He closed his eyes, silently praying. Today would not be a good one to trek around the canyons, citing law-breaking hikers. The temperature was dropping by the minute.

“It could always be worse,” his sergeant said cheerfully. He heard a fireplace crackling in the background; saw his boss rest two slippered feet near the flames.

His boss terminated the call. Rising slowly, groaning, he pulled on his uniform.

It could always be worse, he thought the next morning, in the doctor’s office. “Looks like pneumonia,” the Physician’s Assistant told him, wearing his commiserating smile.


The morning had gone badly, even for her. Her boyfriend didn’t believe in bad luck; told her she was too superstitious. She’d noticed that those who scoffed, like him, didn’t have the sorts of days she usually did.

That day, the alarm had not gone off. Rolling out of bed too late to shower, she had grabbed at it. She’d intended to give it a scolding, to restrict its late-night beeping privileges. The casing came apart in her hands. It beeped a dying beep, leaving behind a broken body, and leaking battery acid.

She quickly dropped it into the garbage and ran to wash in the bathroom sink. “At least I have water,” she told herself. It ran, trickled, stopped. Frozen pipes, again.

“Good thing I didn’t try to shower,” she mumbled, running to dress. She spritzed a few extra squirts of body spray, to be safe, and left her apartment in a rush.

“I’d better text the landlord,” she said. Walking to the front door; she checked her purse, her pockets, her hand.

No phone. She sighed.

“Well, I’ve got my house keys, at least,” she told the closing door. It locked as she descended the front stairs.

“I think I have my keys,” she added, searching her purse as she walked. She dug in this corner and that, pushing empty lotion bottles and old receipts round and round.

She was so preoccupied, she didn’t see the barriers. She did see the open manhole, just before falling in.

“Whoa, lady! Are you all right?” A man asked her, down the hole. She looked up to his dark outline, from the filthy tunnel floor. She thought he was one of the construction workers, but she couldn’t be sure. She’d left her glasses home, as well.

“I think I’ve broken my leg,” she called painfully in reply, not moving it. Fortunately, she’d had enough life experience to diagnose most of her medical issues.

“Well, it could always be worse,” he called.

She looked around the dim sewer. “How?!” She yelled back, incredulously.

A pause. “Well,” he said, less confidently. “If you’d fallen in tomorrow, none of us would have been here to help you.”

The faint echoes of an approaching ambulance came down to her. She had to admit, he was right.