If you don’t learn from your experiences
You’re ageing for nothing.
There’s that old saying:
“Money can’t buy happiness”
The phrase is incorrect.
Though it perhaps serves a purpose:
Helping those of us who don’t have enough money
To feel better about things.
Here are some examples where money can buy happiness:
There is the first, obvious, example:
Money has the ability to alleviate your material needs
(…emphasis here on your ‘material needs‘, not your ‘material wants‘)
These include a roof over your head
And food in your belly.
This, by default,
Will increase your happiness,
By curtailing the things that make you unhappy.
Things like being hungry and exposed to the elements.
Photo by Christopher Combe Photography
Disregarding the obvious and logical question
Around exactly how much you really need…
(…answers on a postcard, please)
This alone is a pretty good argument
For redistributing some wealth
From those who have ‘more than they know what to do with’
(…people who are long past the point where additional money creates any improvement)
To those who need only a little more to be noticeably happier.
I take the oft-cited example
Of the über-wealthy person
Who spends millions on luxury goods
That he’ll soon tire of.
Put another way
Why buy another shitty piece of modernist art
When you could feed an entire village,
Somewhere in the developing world
For a long time?
I don’t know.
That’s the subject for another day, and I’ll leave it here.
Money can buy happiness another way too.
One that is tied closely to the first.
This, of course, is
(…with a few caveats.)
Studies seem to show that
Charity can make the giver very happy
The money is given voluntarily
In ways that the giver can see
Tangibly benefit the recipient(s).
In this way
Having more money (than you actually need) can make you happy.
You have to give lots of it away
And see the good that it’s doing in the world
Seems like a pretty good argument for giving more, don’t you think?
Cover photo by Hipnos
It seems that some people
Were never taught the difference
Between ‘feelings’ and ‘evidence’.
Put another way
How right a thing feels
Is not the same
It seems obvious
But it must not be
Just look around you
And see what people do in the name of ‘righteousness’.
There’s a horrible inverse correlation:
The people who are so certain of being right
(i.e. the most ‘righteous’ amongst us)
Are often the ones who aren’t.
The answer, perhaps
Is to be less certain of things
And to look at this idea of ‘righteousness’
With a certain amount of distance and wariness.
A strong opinion is no substitute for the truth.
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman
Humanity advances as far as you and I learn
To see another’s suffering as our own
Another’s happiness as our own
And to always think of others in what we do.
All without the necessity
To think of some as part of ‘our group’
And others as outside of ‘our group’.
And perhaps we can, eventually,
Expand our circle of ‘personal’ compassion
From the small few we count as friends and family
To encompass everyone,
All living beings.
This, however, seems like a tall order
When we consider how evolution has shaped our minds:
Those old survival traits
Mistrust, tribalism, mob psychology
Those may take a long time to be expunged,
If they ever are.
Photo by alisdare1
Put another way,
It appears that
Is at odds with a good part of our nature
Our ‘evolutionary programming’.
But the scientists tell us
That we’re not done evolving yet
Genetically or memetically.
So, perhaps if we just hold on,
Don’t kill ourselves,
Don’t kill our planet,
We’ll get there someday.
Without regular reminders
On the shortness of life
And, as a result
The imminence of death
You’re liable to undervalue life
Your life, the lives of those you love, and living beings in general.
Never was the phrase ‘taken for granted’ apter than here.
When seen through the wider lens
Of sheer cosmic improbability
Life, death, our entire planet.
It’s all of almost no importance
And yet, it is all we have.
It would seem useful
To make a point of remembering this every day,
If you can.
“Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid.” – Muriel Spark
The desire to impress others
Is a major impediment to an authentic life.
Put another way;
You can’t really live authentically
That is to say, for something beyond yourself
If some (or much) of your energy is consumed
With the need to impress other people.
Unless of course
Is really what you want to do with your life.
Photo by Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com)
People are not here to make your life easier
But you are here to make their lives easier
It would appear that
Nobody ever died
From acute embarrassment.
Shame is said
To be one of the main causes of suicide.
This is one of the problems
With dwelling on things.
Photo by Go-tea 郭天
In the end:
You’ll be held accountable
Not the meetings you attended.
Comfort costs you money
Money costs you time
Time is all you really have
(…because you trade your time for money).
Comfort costs you the only currency of your life – your time.
Put another way, comfort makes you a slave
Because you have to work for it.
What happens if your comfort is taken from you?
Replace ‘comfort’ with ‘things’ and the logic still holds.
With thanks to the guy from CheapRVLiving for the idea.