The best things in life

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“The Liege psychologists propose that, because money allows us to enjoy the best things in life – we can stay at expensive hotels and eat exquisite sushi and buy the nicest gadgets – we actually decrease our ability to enjoy the mundane joys of everyday life. (Their list of such pleasures includes ”sunny days, cold beers, and chocolate bars”.) And since most of our joys are mundane – we can’t sleep at the Ritz every night – our ability to splurge actually backfires. We try to treat ourselves, but we end up spoiling ourselves.”

The quote above comes from an article inWired magazine, and it is about a group of scientists who are trying to understand why people who have more money and are very wealthy seem to be less happy. I was going to read the whole article, but I read that first sentence, and I immediately began to pen this blog post, because the article’s foundation is so utterly and reprehensibly wrong.

It is wrong because of it’s fundamental premise, revealed in the opening statement: “money allows us to enjoy the best things in life”. Thus, the scientists' fundamental premise is that money (LOTS of money) allows you to enjoy the best things in life. Thus, sleeping at the Ritz is a superior and more joyful experience than “mundane” joys (like cold beers) and if you have these “superior” experiences in excess, then you will no longer enjoy the “lesser” joys in life.

I wanted to punch the screen because this is a lie.

I would rather sleep outside with my brothers in my backyard than at the Ritz.

I would rather sleep at my friends lake house, eating smores and sitting at the fire, making fun of the stupid things we did in grade school, than sleeping at the Ritz.

The Ritz, in it’s very nature, is not superior to other sleeping options and “lesser” experiences that I have available. How do I know? Because it is 12:40 am on a friday night, and while everyone else is “partying” outside my window and pretending to be happy here in downtown Indy, I am sitting at my desk and am filled with an energy and enthusiasm that no amount of dollar bills could ever buy.

Why the enthusiasm? Is it because I saved enough money to enjoy the “superior” things in life, such as staying at the Ritz? Nope. I am pumped for two reasons. One, because I am writing about something I am very passionate about, and that is the quest for Joy (none of this fluffy wishful thinking for “happiness”. Happiness is so underrated. I go big. I go for raging and wild Joy.) Second, I am getting SO JACKED to get up tomorrow and ride my bike for 40 miles, starting at 6am. I have a huge smile on my face as I am thinking about being on my bike so early and starting my ride, slowly watching the city wake up as I cruise all around town and head off into golden fields lined with corn. I am thinking of the huge breakfast I am going to eat when I get back, the shower I am going to take, and the glorious nap that will soon follow. Words cannot describe my intensity right now. While I am writing, I am also listening to “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty, drinking a chocolate milk shake, and trying to calm down for my big day tomorrow. But I can’t calm down because I am so happy. I am so filled with life, with energy, that no dollar bill could ever buy.

My question: do you think ANYONE staying at the Ritz tonight is as jacked up as I am? No way. It is impossible. I wouldn’t trade tonight with anyone.

Do you see the absurdity of the statement “money allows us to enjoy the best things in life”? Do you sense the complete and reprehensible error that this statement oozes? My pen fails to express the emptiness and vanity of such an erroneous claim. The fanciest things in life are not the best things in life.

I am fine with people having a lot of money and using it to buy fine things. I am saving up so that one day, I can buy a black 68’ Ford Mustang with white racing stripes, and I am going to fire that engine up and cruise all around town at very high speeds. But I am kidding myself if I think that this will be the “best” thing in my life.

Please, PLEASE tell me that the best things in your life did not need a lot of money?

I could give more and more examples about things I enjoy that cost very little money, but one last example must suffice.

Today, I held my brother’s brand new baby girl in my arms. That beautiful, precious baby, so wonderful and new, who came rushing into this world and crashed into all of our hearts, is one of the best things I have ever experienced in life. And this wasn’t even my own child! Can you imagine the joy you would feel if it were your own child? Can you imagine what it would be like to hold a human being that came from your body, from your love with another human to whom you have chosen to spend the rest of your life? Can you imagine the joy in your heart as people come in and out, holding your child and telling you how beautiful she is? Can you imagine looking that child in the eyes and picture all the games you would play, the late nights watching movies, the birthdays, the proms, and then one day, walking with her down an aisle during her wedding, and envisioning all of this in one instant? I have traveled all around the world, I have tumbled along mountain vistas, attended the biggest of sporting events, I have stayed in expensive hotels, I have driven expensive cars (and I drove them REALLY fast), and I have seen many things, but I know this: there is no greater joy than the gift of a new child into this world.

People are more valuable than things.

Joy can’t be bought with money.

The best things in life aren’t at an expensive hotel.

NEVER try to find “happiness”.

ALWAYS be ruthless in your search for fresh, parching, and overwhelming Joy.

Now go out and live your life.