0 Friday, December 07, 2012

It’s not about the price tag

by Juliana Vadnais


What does it take to make you happy?

This was the question Skandia International asked people in 13 countries. The question was based on the amount of income it would take for a person to be happy. The answer was an average salary of $161,000. That is 15 times the global individual income average.

The United States was not one of the countries surveyed but I think society would be pretty quick to agree that that number would be nice. I would go so far as to say many people strive for more. More money, more fame and more things.  America has gotten to the point of spending money to make and buy items you don’t have any real use for except that it may make you happy at some point in time.

More often than not, that happiness fades and it fades too quickly. We look for that instant gratification and instant pleasure. But it is gone too soon. It isn’t real happiness. Not when it is gone too quickly. Not when it can be replaced easily by something new and shiny.

The holiday season is a time that welcomes and encourages happiness, parties, lights and songs. And don’t forget the presents. It is the time of giving. More specifically, giving presents. Our society is a buying society. I am not against buying. I am against buying what we don’t need. I am not above the occasional splurge of buying something on a whim that I may not exactly need but just kind of want at the time.

But this holiday did not start as the time of giving random gifts. It started as a time to be thankful for the things we have in our life. Gifts were brought for the Christ child not as a way to show appreciation or to get in his good graces. It was because of the magnitude of the event. The gifts represented something. That is what we fail to remember every Christmas season—that the gifts we give are not just random. They are not something to receive and consequently forget about or throw away. They are something to be cherished and remembered. The act of giving says a lot more about the Christmas spirit than actually receiving something. Remember that next time you get a present or are stuck wondering why you didn’t get as good a gift as the next person.

Of the people surveyed by Skandia International, 80 percent said that money would make them happy. Yes, we are more calm and less stressed about things when we have money. We are generally happier when we don’t have to worry about finances. But is that real happiness? Not even close. Happiness is emotions. It is how you feel and who makes you feel that way. Around this Christmas season, remember that and forget about the money. Ironically, the countries that required the most money to be happy were also the ones with the highest debt.

So, is the money really that important? I think not.

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