I cringe whenever someone says “Money can’t buy happiness.”
Not because it isn’t true.
It is true.
Happiness is a choice.
No matter what’s going on in your life, you can choose to be happy or you can choose to be morose.
If you’re in the habit of being unhappy, someone could drop a million bucks in your lap, and you’d *still* find reasons to be unhappy after that initial excitement wears off.
But that’s not why I hate that saying.
The real reason is…
I grew up dirt poor.
In the worst part of town.
In one of the most disgusting trailers in the most run-down trailer park in town.
A family of 5 squeezed into a nasty little 3 bedroom trailer.
We ate potato soup for dinner as often as twice a week.
No, not some fancy potato chowder with milk and meat in it.
I mean soup made out of potatoes, as in…
Potatoes boiled in water, with some salt and pepper.
Just enough carbs to keep us alive, but almost no nutritional value.
And we still managed to be happy most of the time.
My siblings and I found games to play. We created our own little imagination-fueled adventures to keep us occupied.
Lack of money didn’t make us unhappy.
It did, however, cause a lot of stress and health problems that could have been easily avoided with a little more money and some more nourishing food.
But… whenever we complained about not having better food, better clothes, or a better home…
My father would say “Kids, money can’t buy happiness.”
And, with a look of total self-satisfaction, he’d leave it at that.
Then, he’d go right back to watching TV instead of… of… I don’t know… looking for ways he could afford to buy his family healthier food and a safer place to live.
And so, the reason I absolutely despise that saying isn’t because it isn’t true.
The reason I feel myself overflowing with disgust when people say “Money can’t buy happiness” is because, in my experience, it was always used as an excuse for laziness – bordering on criminal neglect – towards one’s own responsibility to provide.
It implies that, since you can be happy without money… there’s no point in worrying about getting money.
And *that* isn’t true.
The assumption that sneaks in behind the saying “Money can’t buy happiness”… that sneaky, insidious little assumption that it’s okay to settle for almost nothing, in a world of such abundance and opportunity…
That’s what disgusts me.
Being healthy can’t make you happy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to have enough money to buy healthy food.
Living in a nice, clean house in a safe neighborhood can’t make you happy, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for abject poverty.
My childhood poverty is so distant now that writing about it feels like writing about an entirely different reality.
And I plan to keep it that way… very distant and never to return.
Whatever the future may bring, economically, politically or otherwise… my children are never going to be forced to eat boiled potatoes for dinner.
Because they’re not going to inherit their grandfather’s hateful beliefs and feelings towards money.
Whether or not they’re happy… well, that’ll be up to them.
That’s their choice and their life lesson.
But, they’re never once going to hear me tell them that money is bad. Or that wanting money is bad. Or that having an abundance of material wealth is anything less than perfectly healthy and desirable.
It took me decades to deprogram myself from my father’s attitudes towards wealth.
So I’m going to save my children a lot of time by giving them positive attitudes toward wealth right from the start.
The positive attitudes towards wealth and money that I wish I’d been given to start with.