I recently went to a conference where I attended a few finance classes. Some of the focus ended up being on bankruptcy and the Two-income Trap. Statistics were thrown out such as:
A large percentage of Major athletes spend all of their income in less than two years after retirement
Many who win the lottery report a lower level of happiness afterwards
Studies have shown that there is no increase in happiness beyond a salary of $70,000. The happiest people on Earth tend to have a salary between $40-70,000.
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The one thing that stuck out to me was the opposite of what I went there to learn: money doesn't make you happy. Duh.
Not that I went there seeking happiness…but I went in hopes of learning the skills necessary to create a more comfortable life for my family. There's a part of me that wants so badly not to hurt when I pay the bills. There's part of me that hates having to wait for my husband to get home from work just so I can go to the grocery store (we have one car). And then there's another hidden corner of me that looks into my closet and wishes I wasn't so stinkin' “out of style.” This is the part of me that is sick with a disease.
I like to call it “Ariel's Disease.” You know where I'm going with this, right? The Little Mermaid? The girl who had gadgets and gizmos of plenty… whozits and whatzits galore, and yet…she still had to have more. What kind of horrible message is she sending to young minds? (Don't panic…I'm not about to hate on the princesses…I wouldn't have dedicated an entire Quiet Book to fairytales if I wasn't a fan of them). But Ariel DOES have a disease.
My favorite line occurs at the very beginning of the song: “Maybe he's right. Maybe there is something the matter with me.
I just don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad.”
I don't think there's anything bad with comfortably paying the bills, or owning a second car, or even dressing clean and stylishly. The problem comes in the line, “But who cares? no big deal, I want more!”
The problem comes in our failure to recognize our blessings. It comes from gravitating inward rather than looking outward and recognizing the beauty of the world we are currently a part of. The problem comes when we fail to ask how we can lessen other's pain, hardship and loneliness.
Yesterday I was grateful for my husband and his optimistic attitude. I was pretty ill and he cheerfully walked in from work, entered our bedroom and greeted me with a compliment. Five minutes later my two girls woke up from their nap and he brought them both in and plopped them onto the bed next to me. We spent the next 30 minutes with each other just laughing and playing as a family. I almost forgot that I had been sick all day because the moment felt so happy. So today I want to use gratitude as an antidote against my “Ariel's Disease.” I'm grateful for my little family that reminds me what happiness truly is.
The tricky part to this antidote is that disease will enter back into my life if I miss a dosage. And because we live in a world that is always telling us we need “more” to be happy, this disease will always plague our lives if we fail to be grateful. There is something about pregnancy and child-birth that makes me want to go on a huge shopping spree afterwards. This is going to show how completely vain I am, but after the birth of our second child, I told my husband, “I wish our budget allowed for just ONE shopping spree! None of my clothes fit me correctly anymore!” He then replied with, “No way do you need just one shopping spree. After one, you will just want another and another.” Darn it. he knows me way too well. 🙂
So today I want to be thankful. Because gratitude fills me with a magical little feeling that seems to put everything back into perspective again. Yes, a new wardrobe would be fabulous. But I don't have to be part of THAT world right now. Right now I have what I need to be happy.
There has been a lot of “chatter” about Miley Cyrus going around Facebook right now. I have not seen her performance, nor do I know why she did what she did. But if I had my guess, she probably has her own case of “Ariel's disease.” She traded her pretty voice to be “Part of THAT world.” I pray she finds the antidote.