The big picture

jared 11-29

They say money doesn’t buy happiness.

People like to believe that the things that dictate happiness are personal — such as friendship, love and family.

I get that, but those of us living in the real world know that all of those things not only require money but also are made better by it.

I don’t mean to sound greedy or heartless, just realistic.

What is friendship without the ability to pick up a bar tab or buy a nice gift? In my experience, friendships fizzle if one friend is wealthy and the other friend is poor, especially if the latter asks the former to borrow money.

What is a family with a father ashamed that he can’t provide for the ones he loves? What is a family too poor to live in a safe neighborhood or send its children to college?

Yes, family members unconditionally love one another and stick together through anything, but, no, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be happy together.

And love? Well, there’s hope for love. At the college level, most are broke. If you are lucky enough to find love early, hold on to it.

But when we get older, money will play a bigger role, and those with empty wallets and credit card debt will be at an incredible disadvantage when finding companionship.

We can all be adults here, right? I know these scenarios are extreme, but the idea that money doesn’t buy happiness is so grossly overstated that I think some people believe it to be an absolute truth when it’s not.

Have you ever heard someone totally broke say money doesn’t buy happiness? I know I haven’t. I wouldn’t insult a poor man with a question that naive.

You know why? Because money buys comfort. It allows you to live the life that makes you happy without having to make concessions.

More than that, money gives people the one thing everyone wants in life: security. My dad has worked on commission my entire life. There’s really no security in that because even in the months he made good money, he always knew how important it was to save for the bad months. He could never relax when it came to money.

He always planned for the worst, and the worst could’ve been pretty bad for us. And, although he always kept us afloat, it taught me, through observation, how awful it can be to live with financial woes.

We all long for the American dream, so we shouldn’t be so gullible as to ever doubt the role money plays in achieving it.

Those of us who live paycheck to paycheck should staunchly resent the idea that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Those of you familiar with my columns may be put off by the nature of this particular one. But I am just saying what I know everyone else is thinking.

Princeton University recently conducted a study that put a price tag on happiness.

The study found that at $75,000 a year, a person becomes happier. He feels secure, satisfied with his achievements and, overall, successful.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t want to feel that way? Money is a need, not a want. It vindicates our pasts. It puts us at ease, gives us confidence and enjoyment, and opens the door for us to live the lives that will make us happy.

So, yes, I guess money does buy happiness. Not in and of itself, but it can buy the circumstances and means to give us the kind of worldly happiness we are all hoping for.