Turns out money CAN buy happiness, after all.

The problem most folks have, is that they buy THINGS that enslave themselves, rather than buying things that help provide freedom, or TRUE happiness.

Most people spend their money on distractions and liabilities, and then are puzzled when only weeks later, their happiness has somehow vanished, along with their cold hard cash.

Don’t believe me? Take a look in the closets and garages of MOST folks. Hell, a good majority of them actually pay a place miles away to store even more of the crap they rarely, if ever, use.

It has been my observation that most people are more than willing to accept 36 to 72 easy payments, to get that fancier car, or two, a Harley, Speed Boat, Jet Ski, big swimming pool, pool table, prettier furniture, or ginormous BIG screen TV, so they can squander their time watching others live, rather than living it themselves.

All of this in the quest for happiness. I mean, after all, doesn’t all that stuff make us happy?

Sure it does!

For a minute.

And yes, even some of it for quite a long time.

The point is not to NOT buy stuff. It’s to buy things that truly add lasting value to your life.

Most folks are so busy being bitch-slapped by their ego’s constant demand for MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, SHINIER, NEWER, and THE BEST, that more times than not, their happiness has faded faster than television networks can cancel Kathy Griffin comedy appearances.

So much of the crap people buy is based on impulse, and the addiction to feeling important. “See, I’ve got money, I can buy anything I want.” Spending for a lot of people is just another form of self-medication.

Now trust me, I’m not pointing any fingers. I’ve been as guilty as the lot.

But when I started taking a serious look at why I was so serious all the damn time, and why I wasn’t really all that happy; not for any length of time anyway, I noticed, or life pointed out to me; most of the things I was buying to make me happy had a pretty short shelf life.

Over the past year, I’ve managed to lower my expenses by about two thirds, yet, my life is infinitely larger. I live on a yacht, albeit it a tad bit of a fixer upper, but one that also ads to my sense of pride, when I finish one of the many restoration jobs on the list. Every day she gets just a little bit prettier, and I get the awesome feeling of a job well done. Not to mention, I live on the water, less than a mile from one of the most beautiful beaches in the US.

“Wait! you live on a yacht, near one of the best beaches in the country, and LOWERED your cost of living?”

Yup!

I also traded in my big, fancy pickup, with every bell and whistle imaginable, for a simple little Jeep. No, it doesn’t have all the frills and ride like a limo, the way that high dollar Dodge Ram did, but I can open the top to soak in the sun and stars, and it’s FUN, and a helluva lot easier on gas, too.

During this time of self-observation, I also learned a powerful and important distinction about happiness:

Contrary to popular belief, happiness and fun are not the same thing.

Happiness is a state of mind. Fun, on the other hand, is an experience.

In a recent study at San Francisco State University, they found that people who spent money on experiences, rather than material items, were happier and felt the money was better spent.

Not surprisingly, I too, discovered that the more fun I was having, the more I began catching myself being happy.

So, using this psychology as to what makes people happy, it stands to reason, that if we are going to buy THINGS, then our criteria should be to only purchase THINGS that put us in or around the EXPERIENCES that create the most happiness for ourselves.

Ever hear the story of the two best days in a boater’s life?

The day he buys the boat, and the day he sells it.

A cute joke, which holds a lot of truth.

But there is a serious argument to this.

The boater who can’t wait to sell his/her boat is again trying to find happiness. And since he/she most likely didn’t get as much happiness use, per the price that was being paid, so unloading it could free up some financial resources to move onto the NEXT whim. “I know, maybe a Harley!”

On the other hand, there are people like Dawn and I, who LIVE on our boats, and find enjoyment nearly every day of the week.

You see, it’s not the purchasing of the boat which is the issue. It’s how much happiness people actually derive from it, that matters.

Here’s something else I’ve noticed about fun: fun isn’t always comfortable. In fact, often times, it is not.

For example: Living on a boat is not always comfortable, but it’s usually pretty freakin FUN.

Driving a Jeep is not the most comfortable vehicle on the road, but it’s FUN.

Riding a skateboard or bicycle isn’t the most comfortable, but they’re fun.

Having an On-Line business isn’t always comfortable, but it’s usually pretty FUN, too.

Sure, you can choose comfort over fun; which most do. You can choose respectable over completely satisfying; which most do. You can choose bigger, faster, newer, and shinier, over simple and memorable; which most do. But; will you be happy? Most are not.

Most continue to spend, spend, spend, on THINGS with a VERY short-lived FUN TIME.

I would propose that if you were to spend your money more wisely, you CAN, in fact, buy happiness. I know that’s exactly what Dawn and I have done, and continue to do.

No, we don’t have the best of everything. We live on a fraction of what most of the folks we know live on. Oddly, most of the folks we know, envy what we have, and the way we live. Or perhaps it’s that we are the happiest people we know.

If you glean anything from this article, I hope it’s this:

1. Money is neither good nor evil.

2. Money carelessly spent will never make you happy.

3. But money thoughtfully spent, can, and will, and to your enjoyment of life, immeasurably.

4. Happiness is a state of mind.

5. Happiness is not codependent upon fun. But…

6. The more fun your life is, the more you are generally in a happy state of mind, usually with the accumulative effect of feeling an overall sense of HAPPINESS.

7. MORE is quite often less.

8. What we own, owns us right back.

9. We choose our happiness, or lack of whether consciously or not.

10. Money is both the prison and the key; so, use it wisely.