Column: Love or Money

“Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate. The more generous we are, the more joyous we become. The more cooperative we are, the more valuable we become. The more enthusiastic we are, the more productive we become. The more serving we are, the more prosperous we become. “— William Ward

“He who is contented is rich.” — Lao Tzu

We are fed by society the idea that if you live in a gorgeous home, drive a fancy car, have a reputable address, wear designer clothes, give pricey gifts and go to exclusive private school — surely happiness accompanies. I live in Fairfield County — no one sees, smells, and hears that message more than I do. I grew up here, it is ingrained in the youth, and it permeates the air in the beauty of all things around me.

As I pick up my daughter from school, I see a swarm of beautiful luxury cars: Range Rovers, Maseratis, Jaguars, Mercedes, Teslas are popular, Audis, Volvos, G Wagons. They are lined up with enthusiasm, some arriving a half hour in advance — to take their child to the next activity, voice lessons, dance lessons, Arabic lessons and the list goes on.

The other line: The over-16 crowd, they are the newly licensed kids. Happily they drive into the parking lot with energy exuded by youth. They are driving the hand-me-down cars of their parents. The seven-to nine year old Mercedes, BMWs, Range Rovers — or if the the vehicle is brand new, it is a Jeep. This does not vary.

In the four years my daughter has attended this school, I rarely see a Prius, a Mazda or a Honda. If there is one, my assumption is that it belongs to a teacher. The school is visually stunning — a former Vanderbilt mansion with outstanding views of the Long Island Sound. The neighborhood surrounded with the likes of Anne Hathaway, and other stars. The academic rigour and fine faculty make the school a true gem. The price tag is aligned with all of the other private day and boarding schools that are abundant in Connecticut.  There is not a shortage of this type of school here on the East Coast.

The stores in this area are gorgeous as well, and the restaurants are among the finest. With all of the wealth in the air, surely people must be giddy with happiness, bubbling with excitement, generous with compliments. Happiness begets happiness. Wealthy people are lucky, they have nothing to worry about. They are immersed in beauty, culture, opportunity … A woman who doesn’t have to work and can lunch daily and go shopping at her leisure … oh how lucky she is … how nice her life must be … free of trouble and worry.  Right?

I will share with you that in many instances, the idea that wealth creates extreme happiness  is a pure falsehood. This is my opinion after years of observation, knowledge and personal experience with many people that live here. I’m assuming this is also the case in areas that exude personal comfort and wealth.  I am mindful of those around me and very much in tune with the vibe people give out, so this is not a random guess. Here is a list of the things that money can not buy:

Spiritual wealth, a healthy mind, love, emotional availability, a sense of humour, kindness, empathy, sympathy, friendship, laughter, faithfulness, physical endurance, stamina, a stable marriage, peace, respect, intelligence, conscience, dreams, a fulfilling sex life,  good ideas, a first kiss, an unexpected compliment, time, the feeling of self accomplishment, loyalty.

As I compile this list, I’m not sure I have much more to say. All the things in life that matter do not have a price tag on them. It is the truth. I’m not ignorant, as I mentioned before — I live here and it  is extremely costly, you need money to live well here or just to live an average life.  I leave you with the words of Spike Miligan: “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

Follow your heart — listen to your thoughts when you wake up, and as you fall asleep. Who and what captures your soul, your heart. The answer lies right there, in that peaceful thought — you have the knowledge of what you need to flourish. The color of it is not green. I’m quite sure if it had a color it would be red or pink. That is the color of love, that is the happiness that money can not buy, that is the one thing that can fill your heart your soul and your spirt. This is the happiness I wish for all. He who is contented is rich.

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