Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Brings Happiness/Makes People Happy? Money??

You know, there are several reasons why I sometimes choose to make a comment that I'm about to leave on my blog or someone else's blog into a Post, whether than just a Comment. One is because the comment seems too long to just be a comment. Two is because I need to remain in the habit of Posting to my Blog once in awhile, so that those who follow me will continue to come by to check out what's new and three is because I feel the comment thread my comment relates to has gotten too long. This time, it is the first two reasons listed above that are causing me to make this Comment into a Post.

Anyway, in the next Post down, "Don't Forget to Enjoy the Journey", one of my favorite Commenters, BB-Idaho, left the most interesting link entitled, "Are We Happy Yet?". It contains research in the form of a survey about what sorts of things contribute to Happiness and what does not.

Among the other conclusions, one of the most interesting ones is that contrary to the popular belief by a lot of religious folk that money does not make people happy, well actually, according to the survey, it does. I was always a little skeptical of this idea anyway.

My father used to build custom homes and though he never considered himself rich, we were never really lacking in that department and my class mates at school considered us well off because we lived in one of the expensive custom homes built by my father.

My parents would point out that the "Custom Home" we lived in was furnished with a lot of modest, inexpensive furniture and that we could only afford it because Dad built it himself. My parents were very humble, not too showy sort of people; not like the way people generally stereo type the rich folk. Once Dad had a Million Dollars on the books, he claimed that "Now a days, a million is no longer that much money." Well, actually, that was awhile ago and I think that back in the 70s, it was a lot, or at least it was more than the parents of a lot my fellow class mates possessed. Everything is relative, you know.

Anyway, interestingly, I decided that I didn't like being envied. Envy creates a division between people that blocks genuine friendship and because of this, I considered it more of a negative, whether than something to be flaunted.

As odd as it may seem, when my husband and I got married, he had a Bran New, Bright Red Camero and I actually disliked the attention. I just wanted an ordinary economy car that would not cause me to stand out in any way.

Now, a lot of my readers are not going to fully understand my attitude, because it's actually not a very common one, but it was what it was and it actually took me awhile to realize that for someone who had never owned a new car before, nor much else that is more luxury than necessity, this was a really big deal and it is only natural to feel proud when one can purchase something so special and so much beyond what he's had in the past.

So you see, there are some negatives to having some wealth, such as feeling isolated by other people's envy, no matter what you do to avoid causing it. And than there is the matter of not feeling as close as to your father that works so much and is to himself a lot, as creative people often are. I don't know if not knowing who your true friends are was so much of a problem. For some reason, I didn't feel that one as much, yet the envy thing really bothered me quite a lot. I felt that it created a feeling of isolation that I did not like, especially since I never did consider myself any better than anyone else. Why should I? It was my father who earned the money, not me.

There is another side to this, though, for there are positives and negatives within every human experience.

Before I get into that, though, I'd like to tell you about how the rich and the poor sometimes view things differently and those new to wealth, or even smaller pieces of occasional luxury, view things differently than those who have had money for more than one generation.

An example of the first of these is how my parents used to note that they could always tell, when people walked through the houses as they were put up for sale, who could and could not afford to buy them by the way they reacted. The "lookiloos", who couldn't even begin to afford such a home, just reacted in amazement. Those who were potential buyers were way more critical and not as impressed.

An example of how those new to wealth view things differently than those who have had money for more than one generation is how my husband was so proud of his new Camero, but I didn't think it was any big deal.

One of the differences in attitudes between the rich and the poor that has really stood out for me, though, relates to the phrase "Oh, it's no big deal! It's just money!" Well, this sounds really good and even impressive at first, until one realizes that it is mainly the rich who say these things.

Probably the most key example of this casual attitude about money and things is the way my father treated his vehicles. He was not at all like my husband who is really big on maintenance, never misses an oil change, tire rotation, transmission service or anything else that is recommended for maintaining a car. No, my father actually put a lot of his tools and contractor supplies in the trunk of his new Lincoln Town Car. They used to really tease him about it and tell him how much they loved his fancy "Work Truck". In contrast, when those who have had less money most of their life, finally get something special like that, they treasure it, value it, take great care of it and protect it with their life.

The reality that I learned later in life is that while I was learning that "Money is not what brings happiness.", "It's just money.", "A house is meant to be lived in." and "They are just things.", someone else was learning "The Value of Money" and how important it is to take care of what you have because it was a lot of work to earn what it took to purchase these things.

Getting back, though, to the link "Are We Happy Yet?", though I was taught that money is not what brings happiness and have even listed some of the negatives for you above, even so, there is another side to this picture. I saw with my own eyes what happened to my parents and to the basic mood in the house hold when the economy went bad and they lost a bunch of it. I have also experienced first hand what it is like to struggle financially in my own marriage and witnessed the marital stress that can result. This is why I'm not too terribly surprised that some survey found a correlation between money and happiness.

Though money can not buy a lot of things that are quite valuable, such as love and true friendship, even so, a lot of what money can buy is not without value. Though I'm not much into the showy prestige stuff, money also buys Food and Clothing, as well as a few Intangibles, yes, Intangibles, such as Education and the Opportunity to Travel. Education leads to Knowledge and Traveling leads to very precious Memories. Knowledge and Memories are both Intangibles, so you see, money buys more than just "Things".

Well now, isn't that interesting? I was intending to respond to the entire article "Are We Happy Yet?" and yet I didn't even get past the first issue mentioned, which is money.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't Forget to Enjoy the Journey

As I think of things that different people have said to me throughout the blogging world, there is also something that Griper said that really stuck with me. Probably the most important thing that Griper has ever said to me is "Don't forget to enjoy the journey." I have to keep remembering that. Too often I get all caught up in the conflict between Joy and Freedom and Duty. I don't know if I remember all of my thoughts connected with this, but I'll try to come up with at least some of it.

BB's first comment on a previous page relating to our puppy, "Difficult Dogs and Puppies/Tired/Submissive Peeing", reminded me again of the above quote from Griper. What BB said was "Puppies are supposed to bring happiness. Aren't they?", but he might as well of said "Oh come on, Lista. Don't forget to enjoy the journey.", because that is what I heard in my own head.

Another thought was in relation to the verse "28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 12:28-30, KJV)

Now that I think of it, I was going to connect that thought with Griper's idea "Don't forget to enjoy the journey." and talk about how God never meant for life to be so hard, how it is important to allow ourselves a little joy because without it, even our Christian testimony loses it's credibility.

A couple other verses that go along with this are found in the Gospel of John; "10) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10, KJV) and "11) These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full." (John 15:11, KJV)

And then right along with my thoughts on Christ's yoke being easy and that He came to give us life and joy come thoughts about Freedom and Duty. I wish my thoughts on these things were flowing more freely right now than they are, but to be brief, it has been quite apparent in my life that life is really hard when I try to do it in my own strength and when I am allowing myself to be bound by the Expectations and "Duty" that has been imposed on me by others and at times even by myself, but not by God. God is the only one really that we need to please. So many things that we think are important really aren't and in reality what God thinks is all that matters.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Never Negotiate from a Position of Weakness

I guess I really should try to do another post. There are so many thoughts that go through my mind at times and any one of them could be made into a post, yet so often, the inspirations seem to just sprout up and than pass, without any one seeming any more prominent than another.

At first, it seemed that I couldn't get any really strong handle on any single subject, so I thought I'd just introduce each thought briefly and see which ones takes off in the comment section.

Fortunately, once I got started in my writing, my thoughts did flow again and I soon discovered that what I was writing in relation to the basic theme of how I've been inspired by others could be broken down into two parts.

BB-Idaho said something to me once and I wasn't sure how he worded it. I just remember that it was in one of my earlier posts. I had to do word searches looking for it, but finally did find it in the post "Lessons for the Strong and the Weak". In about the 11th comment down, BB says "Never negotiate from a position of weakness. Always negotiate from a position of strength." This is an issue that I keep continually going back and forth on because I've never been quite sure whether people are more impressed with strength, or humble honesty. I don't know. Do people mostly like those who are strong or those who are real? I guess the context of the statement is in relation to the subject of negotiation, yet when I think of my own strengths and weaknesses, what is usually on my mind is things such as influence, impact and trying to deeply touch those I interact with. Perhaps that is another subject, other than negotiation.

Since I don't very often view myself as a strong person on a lot of levels in comparison to most of the rest of the crowd, I tend to go with the humble, honest, genuine and real approach, whether than the "strong" approach.

There are verses in the Bible that relate to this idea.

"10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:10, KJV)

"10) Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10, KJV)

"5) Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5, KJV)

"27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." (1 Corinthians 1:27, KJV)