Money and Happiness

Yesterday, I had one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Not to say that I’ve been having bad days, of course, but yesterday was special. It started out like any other Monday. My CoTeacher No Ra and I talked over coffee at our desks in the morning and discussed what were going to do for this week’s lesson. I had prepared a short lesson about Christmas in America” in which I show them a few quirky traditions (stockings, Christmas cards, opening presents, and Black Friday) and that was about it. We were both a little nervous about how the second half of the class was going to go because we really hadn’t planned much. All we were going to do was let them sing Christmas songs or make cards. During the second class of the day, after very little instruction, the following transpired before our eyes.

After the class ended, and some of the students and I said our goodbyes (these are second year students, and next semester they will be third years, which means I won’t be teaching them anymore), No Ra and I looked at each other like two proud parents. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. These boys at this school are known to be some of the worst in the city. In fact, this class in particular was one of our most difficult classes. We were on cloud nine. 

Then, after lunch, one of my students came into my office with a Santa hat and fake beard on and presented me with a card, a cupcake, and a small bear she had made me. She then explained to me how she was studying English very hard because she wants to be able to talk to me. The cupcakes were delicious, the gesture was precious, and I was feeling great. Until later in the afternoon, when I saw the mail on my desk.

It was my cell phone bill. Now, last month I mistakenly used an application to call home that I thought was free, and it turned out it wasn’t. So for the end of October and the first half of November I was making international calls without knowing. Last month, I went over by $100 on my bill, which I had already made my peace with. Opening this bill I just said to myself, “As long as it isn’t more than last month, I’m okay.” Wrong-o. It turns out it was more than double last months overage at $250. Upon seeing the number, I instantly felt like whatever was in my stomach wanted out. All the wonderful events of the day seemed to pale in comparison to what had just happened. For the next five minutes or so I thought about how much I hated the fact that money had so much control over me. And then, I made a decision that will likely change the rest of my life. 

THE TAKEAWAY: Yesterday, I made the decision that I will never let money control my happiness. Money is, of course, a functionally necessesary part of life. I mean, we all gotta eat. But it does NOT need to have the control over our lives that it does now. Currently, 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce and of those the majority claim financial discrepancies to be the cause. America, Korea, and England are three of the most monetarily sound countries in the world, and yet they are reported to have the most unhappy people. All the while many third world countries report the highest levels of happiness. The truth of the matter is that if money causes us stress, it is sabotaging that which it is supposed to provide us with: a happy life. For the rest of my life,  I will gauge my happiness not by how much money I have, but by the experiences I am able to have.

As long as there is food on the table, and a roof over my head, then I will have, within me, all I need to live a happy, fulfilling life. 

6 thoughts on “Money and Happiness

  1. Two quick takeaways: Wow , you must be so proud! what a great moment of Gratitude that these students shared with you. You must have felt like the richest man in the world because of how much your poured into these children. So you must learn to be poured out in order to become full of greatness or gratefulness. Then the next moment you realize how poor you are, different spelling. It’s been said that the size of a man is determined by the size of the things that make him mad or sad. So $150 dollars is all it took to topple the king off of his mountain. I pray that the next time that you get really mad or sad that it will cost over $15 million to take you down from joy you brought to the world.

    The wealth of a man is not determined by the man who has the most things but by the man who needs the least. Looks like you are well on your way to becoming one of the wealthiest!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

    • Alex,

      Reading your comments always puts a smile on my face. I am so glad that you identify with my situation. I can tell that you are also one of these wealthy men. A life spreading it is the life I want to live.

      Merry Christmas to you and I wish you a great New Year! I already can’t wait to meet you again when I get back!

  2. I really enjoyed this! Again, I’m really happy I found your blog because you really put things in perspective and helped me find joy that’s been just sitting in front of me. I know you follow my blog but if you haven’t checked, recently I’ve been back to my optimistic mindset and my writing is starting to reflect that. It’s cool to know that people appreciate my writing and makes me feel good to know that it impacts people positively. So I want to do the same for you. Keep on, keeping on!

    • I’m glad you did Soman! I check in on your blog from time to time and I like it because it almost feels like I know you! I commented on one of your recent posts btw.

  3. Are you sure you’re not an incarnation of someone with several lifetimes of experience? You are certainly wise way beyond your years. Wonderful attitude. Beautiful take-away. Your balance in the bank of life and clear thinking has just gone up immensely. And, the people who purposelessly make misleading statements for their own selfish gain are already in the debtor’s prison of human decency.

    • Haha thank you Dave. I totally agree with you. It really saddens me sometimes that money, almost unavoidably, has such a power over us. Whether it be in the form of fostering greed or causing stress.

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