How To Be Happy

People seem very confused about happiness.  Most folks believe that having all they want is the way to be happy.  I don’t think so.

When I was on the radio evenings in Los Angeles over two decades ago, I reached a “24 share.”  That meant one out of four people listening to Los Angeles radio was tuned into me.  I got a substantial bonus.  We took that money and paid off all financial obligations and had some left over.

I had always wanted a tennis bracelet – that’s a bracelet made of tiny or huge diamonds.  I had enough money for a bracelet with tiny diamonds, but a tennis bracelet nonetheless.  My husband told me to treat myself, and I did.  I felt a swell of joy every time I looked at that bracelet.

I did not feel joy because I had a diamond bracelet on my wrist.  I thought that would be the case, but it wasn’t.  I felt joy because I had “busted my buns,” worked very hard, and built something special.  So, the happiness in looking at the bracelet was not because of the metal and carbon; it was because it symbolized the hard work doing what I loved to do.

It is the experiencing and working that brings happiness.

Years later, I became more successful, and “upgraded” the tennis bracelet.  I liked the new bauble, but it never brought me anywhere near the thrill of that first one.
 
What comes easily does not have the emotional significance of hard work, sacrifice, and risk.

Once, when my son was small, and we were visiting Las Vegas, he wanted to put money in those machines at each dining room table and place a bet in the hopes of winning lots of money.  I wouldn’t let him do it.  I told him that money wouldn’t mean as much as money hard earned.  He (at seven years of age) didn’t quite “get” that.  It seemed to him as a child that “found”  booty is booty nonetheless.  He’s now finishing up his military service and has learned up front and personal about hard work, sacrifice and risk, and he’s enjoyed every moment he’s earned.

So, don’t wish for “clearinghouse” checks or for winning the lottery.  Wish for the opportunity to do something meaningful, something you love, something with hard work, sacrifice and risk.  Believe me, you’ll be happier.