Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Can you buy happiness?

Money, money, money...

Most commonly people in the Western world start their lives out poor and end up richer and richer for as long as they live. That is the general definition of a successful life. Others do it the other way around, or rather go in cycles or waves throughout their lives. I belong to the latter part. The the most prosperous period of my life so far was when I was between 23 and 30. I had a graphic design job where I made good money, but it did not make me happy. Breaking up from that was probably the bravest thing I had done so far because it set the standard for what I have dared to do later on in life.

I left my well-paid job and went to work with horses in Germany for food, shelter and some pocket money. The months I spent there gave me time to analyze my situation and crystalize what I really wanted to do with my life and that thought process brought me home and to the university. There I spent 6 years on student money, but I was still pretty well off since I also earned some money from study-related employments at the university.

Then the next brave decision appeared before me. I met this charming Israeli guy who made me pack up and leave everything I knew and move to Israel merely 10 days after I defended my MSc thesis. I had an open road before me to do research at home but I chose to leave and lay my trust into that this new life eventually would open new opportunities of the same kind.

The first years here I did not make any money at all. My new love was generous enough to care for the both of us, but also when I did start to earn some money by doing graphic design, it never came to more than pocket money. Nevertheless, my attitude made something grow in my man as well, and soon he also took the leap and left a well-paid job that had made him unhappy. Since then we have struggled and turned the coins, but never have I doubted our decisions and intentions to find true happiness in our lives.

Then almost a year ago my dream job finally surfaced. I never doubted that it would, but sometimes I doubted my own ability to return to science, but luckily it turned out that I was wrong. I have a great position, with inspiring assignments and future prospects, and a warm and lovable group of colleagues. I don't make a lot of money, yet, but definitely better than before and it will only get better. Same goes for my husband.

So where am I going with this rant? I have been thinking a lot lately about what we appreciate in life and what really makes us happy, and I can say that years of hardship teaches you to cherish the small things and not take anything for granted. I know that it sounds like a cliché, but I can promise you that these thoughts don't come from a desire to try to hide enviousness.

I haven't had a smartphone for about a year, since I quit a design job that I had. This really is a first world problem, but I have honestly enjoyed the time, simply because it gave me a break from the constant pressure of participating in social forums. The computer has been enough, that's for sure! Now we decided that we had money enough to buy me an iPhone and tonight I am going to get it, and the anticipation and long time when I haven't really spent anything on myself makes me really excited and happy about this gift.

I haven't bought much clothes for myself during the last few years either. Now I have found an excellent second-hand shop here in Tivon, so all of a sudden I could make a substantial addition to my wardrobe for not a lot of money at all. Second-hand is another subject that I could spend a whole blog post on all by itself, but shortly I really think that all kinds of thrift and consignment concepts are an amazing alternative to constantly buying new things.

Now we are reaching the subject of consumerism. I am not against consuming, but I haven't consumed much during the last few years and it has made me more aware of how and what I am consuming, and also more appreciative of what I have been able to consume.

Often when I see people that are driven by consumerism it is sadly enough accompanied by chronic unfulfillment and shallow happiness. I don't say that all rich people are unappreciative of what they can buy, but money can certainly not disguise unhappiness.

Our family is struggling and sometimes our worry about our economy affects our relationship, but on the other hand it brings us closer together as well because we are on this ship together and only together can we make things change for the better. Love is what matters and I only hope that if I ever get rich I will still keep the same values and appreciate the small things in life. If not, please remind me of this blog post.

No comments: