Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happiness is dollars and sense

Happiness, like love or hate or the perfect vanilla milk shake, is entirely subjective and is intangible. Like the ideal shake, there is not one correct recipe for happiness. (Sidenote: feel free to send me milk shake recipes to try to prove me wrong.) Some people like their shakes with more milk and others with more ice cream and other people are lactose intolerant so they don't know the awesomeness of a great vanilla milk shake. It can be hard to describe what an amazing shake tastes like to someone who has never had one. How do you describe happiness to someone who doesn't think they are happy?

When people ask me for advice, or just talk at me hoping I'll find an answer for them, I have been known to come up with weird analogies. I can't top my friend's classic rejection line, "We just aren't right for each other. It's like you're a koala and I'm an eel." But every once and awhile I say something really smart and it just makes sense of everything. As we finally change seasons, people begin the process of questioning what they really want in life. Awoken for their winter slumps and ready to change things, people really stress over what makes them happy. I often pose one question to my friends when they come to me with life queries.

If you could do anything in the world and money was not a factor, what would make you happy?


The United States dollar can be divided in several different ways. It could be 4 quarters, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, 100 pennies, or any combination of those. It doesn't matter if you have 2 million dollars or 2 dollars, each dollar is worth the same monetary amount. Hugh Jackman can go buy a few packages of ramen and it would cost him the same amount as you However, if you only had 2 dollars you might value them a little more than if there was 2 million waiting for you back home in a safe under your bed.

Happiness is a dollar. It's a combination of our relationships, jobs, health, and dreams. Each piece has a value important to our daily lives. We can arrange the balance any which way, say 2 quarters or being in a loving relationship, but we need to get to a dollar. My combination of change and life values will be different from my friends and family. It's very personal how we balance our lives and I've seen way too much comparison of the change in our pockets. Just because someone else focuses on the nickels or their job, it doesn't mean you need to or should.

I've spent many years working to get to a dollar.
Call it bad luck or tests of a divine nature, but I've been 'broke' too many times. I've owed the universe a few cents in some cases and have paid my debt with parts of myself.
I got my sense of humor back when I started dreaming again and looking towards the future. Making plans for next year or even the next day helped to make me happy.
When my health was bad and I was missing school, my mother instilled in me the importance of maintaining my friendships. She knew if I locked myself away from the world I could never be happy. Even if one part of my life was not going my way, I had the power to compensate with another aspect of my life.
Then I met some people and reconnected with some old friends who showed me where to find change. Like the bottom of the Trevi Fountain, I saw a town shining against the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Everyone who has ever used money knows it can go in an instant. It's a constant job to not just get the dollar but also keep it.

It's easy to say we shouldn't compare ourselves to one another, but that doesn't mean we always listen. Some people we meet in life will be blessed with an abundance of dollars. We shouldn't feel jealous of them,  as we clutch our own dollar in fear of them only seeing the assortment of change and a rogue button, because we don't know what their dollars are made of. They may have dollars composed entirely of first edition shiny State quarters, but they may never have even seen a button like the one you hold in your hand.


I'm happy, I truly am. I have wonderful friends, blessed with good health right now, a good job, and technicolor dreams for the future. I'd like a bit of extra change from my work, but that's normal. My dollar is in many different pieces. Some of it is Pennies, Yen, Pesos, Lira, Euros, and random things gathered in the corners of pockets. Like reaching into a pocket, the shapes of coins are so familiar I can identify them without looking.

One of the biggest problems with finding the "perfect" milkshake is the need to compare it to other milkshakes. How do you know it is the most perfect one in the entire universe until you try a few different ones? Well there in lies the problem, you can't know it's perfect until you taste a mud shake with booger sprinkles. People sometimes get stuck looking for their next shake and they forget to enjoy the one they have. That's not to say our tastes won't change as we grow. I'm positive I can't stand the sugar drenched shakes of my youth; covered in syrups and sprinkles. I crave a simple shake perfectly blended with whip cream on top. What's the whip cream in this whole big analogy? To basterdize a quote from Sigmund Freud, "sometimes whip cream is just whip cream."

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