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Apr 10, 2011

On Money and Happiness

It was a bitter cold winter day. I was walking around the city with a coat, but I was miserable. My eyes were tearing up, only in part from the icy wind that whipped around my head and numbed my ears into a frosty pain.

My hands were crammed into my pockets and clenched to try and keep the blood flowing, but I had to pull one out to check that my ears were still attached to my head, and not frozen solid. By the time my fingers made contact with my ear, they too had lost much of their feeling. But I still had ears, so I was relieved. Miserable, but relieved.

Just then, a brilliant idea struck me. I dodged into the nearest souvenir store just as an arctic draft began to pick up, and that little bell sound hailed a warmth I could only have dreamed of. I checked my ears again, and sighed in appreciation for feeling warmth touch them.

I browsed for a few minutes as feeling returned to my extremities and then I grabbed a set of earmuffs. They were ugly and ridiculously expensive for the cheap quality. But my ears were crying out for respite, so I paid the clerk and told him not to give me a bag as I pulled them over my whimpering ears.

Walking out, I instantly felt warmer, lighter, happier. The world was much brighter and I was much less bitter. The wind still whipped at my face, but I was much more content, and the newly forming wells by my lower lids were no longer from misery.

That very moment had me asking what would be for someone who did not have the means to do what I had just done. I clearly paid twice what I should have, but it didn't matter. That money served a tremendously useful purpose for me: it brought me happiness. Thinking about it, I then realized that it was not happiness, but rather a reduction in my woes -of that very moment -that served to brighten my countenance and my attitude.

And with that epiphany I realized that though money cannot grant happiness, it may surely stave off misery when it can be used to help alleviate my troubles or fulfill a need. Being human means I have quite a bit of that need -food, drink, warmth, breath, shelter, and more. What gratitude to have, realizing how fortunate I am for my ability to take care of so many of my needs!

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