I just got done watching the short documentary called Happy (2017). It was a fantastic little film about the ways different people and cultures view and find happiness or have it slip through their fingers. It came as no surprise that people who chased after things like money and status were typically much more unhappy than people who sought positive relationships and personal internal growth. I highly recommend this short documentary because it really gives perspective on what it really means to be happy.
So what does it mean to be happy? That depends on each person. There is no right or wrong answer, but it would seem that focusing on the people we love and the activities we enjoy is an excellent place to start. We are social creatures by nature and thrive when we have a sense of community. This is often why people chase money, material objects, and status endlessly because they want the world to recognize they matter and that they are essential. What most don’t seem to realize is that chasing after these things will often only isolate them further.
An example would be the corporate moms or dads that work sixty or seventy hour weeks to be able to afford the beautiful houses, fancy cars, clothes, and expensive toys they think their family and kids really want. Some of these kids never get to see their parents or even really come to know them at all. They are just a ghost that provides the house over their heads and the latest fashion on their bodies. Father and mother are just a concept, not a concrete thing. I find this to be horribly heartbreaking.
When their parents die, what will they have? Sweet memories? Or material goods that really have no sentimentality attached to them because the parents were never around to make those gifts or items sentimental. Instead of working long hours and never being around, my dad sacrificed making a lot of money to spend time with me as a kid, and I will forever cherish those memories. I know he struggled financially and still does, but the memories of us going for walks, having fun ice skating at the small local park, and seeing a lot of movies together when I was younger are much more precious to me than any material item he could have provided me through working ridiculous hours.
It has been said a million times in many ways, but life is short. Whether we want to believe it or not, money and its value is a social construct. Under the right conditions such as economic collapse, war, or even significant natural disaster all of the money in the world could lose its value in the blink of an eye. Just think about it for a moment. If every single penny to your name was suddenly gone or worthless, what and who would you have left? I hope you would say family, friends, pets, lovers, and yourself.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien