"MONEY DOESN'T MAKE YOU HAPPY, IT JUST ALLOWS YOU TO SUFFER IN COMFORT." -Gert Boyle, Columbia Sportswear CEO
This week's thought comes via Courtenay Hameister, who interviewed Gert on Live Wire!. A passage from Courtenay's contribution to the new essay collection What Was I Thinking? 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories
(edited by my friends Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubelman) was read last week on the Today Show.
As for Gert's thought, it's the truth, but not the whole truth. I don't agree that "money can't buy you happiness." It can. Trust me. I've lived on a little and I've lived on a lot. A lot is better. Money bought me a college education and trips abroad and my boyfriend's buttery leather coat, all of which made me very happy. Money also bought me a cozy house and internet access and the spiffy new television Floyd got me for my birthday.
(Clarification--the afore-mentioned boyfriend and Floyd are the same person. Yes, I know we've been together 22 years, were married in Canada and domestically partnered in Oregon, but boyfriend has a tingly junior high feel that we like.)
Personally, I think the notion of money not being able to buy you happiness was thought up by poor people trying to make themselves feel better. No offense to poor people. As someone who's had very little work this past year, I can still relate. As Tevye says, "There's no shame in being poor, but it's no great honor either."
That's why it's not the whole truth. Three years ago, I went to Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa, which is pretty damn poor. We're talking people without plumbing sleeping in huts. And yet I saw more smiles per capita than I have anywhere ever. Studies on happiness show this is because our personal satisfaction relates to how we feel we're doing in relation to those around us. Our western mass media constantly show us how poorly we compare. A Buddhist would interpret the same idea by saying that our unhappiness is caused by our desires.
So a more accurate statement would be that "Money doesn't necessarily buy you happiness, but suck on the good times, baby."