How Much is Happiness Going for These Days?

There seems to be a great price for happiness. But is there? We spend a big portion of our lives chasing after happiness' sweeping gown. And we are often unable to catch her, or hold onto her when we do. Are we doing it all wrong then?

Our society preaches often, that money is a big percentage of the happiness pie. And we are encouraged to slave for money in the hopes that it will keep us smiling and laughing often. But is this true? In my own experience, I am usually happier with less money than with more money. Let me explain.

The Fabric Scene on Etsy]
When I work primarily for money, it means that I do whatever I have to do. I work more hours, stress about working for someone who doesn't appreciate my hard-work, stress about saving, stress about some of the people I work with who do nothing and love to boss everyone about, stress about getting a raise, stress about getting paid for every freaking minute, stress about saving more. The list goes on. But when I work just so I can meet my basic needs, I am often happier: I work fewer hours, I often find jobs that I can actually enjoy, and I am able to hang out with the friends I love more frequently. I gossip over the phone with cool people, I frequent museums like I know anything about art, I hum on my long walks, things feel less hectic and life feels really good. Yes, I often complain about having very little money but I do enjoy making this complaint. I don't really mind not having so much money when I am having so much fun.

What makes you happy? If you can, find a notebook and every time you think of something that makes you happy, write it down. I don't do this. So you don't have to either. :) But I think it would  be a fantastic thing to do, and I might start doing it, too. Here are some things that make me happy, in no particular order: music, a bottomless glass of milkshake, hanging out with good friends, making things for people I care about, writing and reading poetry, creating, eating kenkey (an amazing Ghanian food)!

If you are unhappy, you must change it. Now, change is a scary thing. It seems foolish to ditch that which is familiar only to hunt that which is untried, but life is change, and we must just try and be brave.  It is particularly hard to leave the paved roads for the unpaved ones, and the people who love us often don't make it any easier. For the sake of their love for us, they try to talk "sense" into us. They do not always understand, or perhaps they do, they are just as afraid that we might get lost in the wild. And so in their efforts "to save us from ourselves" they disagree with us, or do their best to convince us that our ideas are just follies, mere childish whims. It seems that it's never proper to be spontaneous, except when one is naïve. I wonder that children are often so happy. Perhaps growing-up also means working hard not to bury that which we first were, children.  Perhaps we ought to just do as we desire a little more often, without over thinking the consequences.

I am frequently on the lookout for the things that make me happy. Not the big things, the little things. Like a good cup of hot chocolate and a warm crunchy toast with a dollop or so of cream cheese. :) I try to at least tip-toe after things that make me happy when I am too chicken to chase fully after them. I know there are days that a fellow must just suck it up and do the things they don't wish to do. So if that un-promised tomorrow does turn up, things can shine properly. But I dare say, a fellow owes it to herself to find courage to learn what makes her heart leap, what makes the air smell like laughter, and what turns her eyes into little star-filled pools.


  1. Jane, this is beautiful and so so true. Happiness is mainly about appreciating the little things but also our attitude towards the big things - it's how we maximize our time on people and activities that are fulfilling. How much of the amazing parts of myself I've sacrificed to having security, "success", money and power - and with so little happiness gained! I am feeling braver and more ready to disappoint/frighten those who love me thanks to you. But I believe that happiness radiates from one person to bring happiness and inspiration to people around them, whether lifelong friends or passing strangers - for instance, you to me. I only hope that I will have the courage to be as happy as you are!


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