“Not what we have but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance.” -John Petit-Senn
It’s such a cliche, but true: money cannot buy happiness. It can influence happiness, since it can afford us necessities, a comfortable lifestyle, and opportunities that may increase our overall life satisfaction; but money, in itself, is not the abundance we seek.
The other day, I read about a research study that revealed the majority of participants would rather earn more money than their peers than earn more over a period of years. In other words, they’d sacrifice wealth for an increased sense of pride and status.
I suspect this is why we chase abundance: we assume that money can buy feelings–that it will make us feel accomplished, respected, happy, or free. We assume that if we aren’t happy, the solution is more. Or if we are happy, more will prolong it.
But the pursuit of more can be a trap. It can rob a fun experience of joy, turning it into a means to an end. It can motivate us to compare and compete instead of recognizing and honoring our actual needs. And it can compel us to constantly await excess in the future instead of enjoying enough in the present.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t strive for our goals. It’s just that none of it will affect us as we hope it will if we don’t learn to appreciate what we have when we have it. That’s real abundance: when we can recognize our riches, regardless of our wealth, and allow ourselves to enjoy them.
As I write this, I’m visiting my family in Massachusetts. Yes, it took money to fly here, but the majority of my plans involve watching movies, playing games, and relaxing in the sun with the people I love.
Yesterday, when I was sitting at the kitchen table with my younger brother, both of us on our laptops, he started humming The Right Stuff (by New Kids on the Block) without realizing he was doing it. Right after the chorus, we made eye contact and both started laughing. These are the moments I remember and value the most–the silly little things that remind me I truly enjoy the people in my life. This is my abundance.
Photo by Sarniebill1