This article I read on Slate tonight is really striking. The first two pages are so are mostly depressing, but also empowering. But, it's the half the article that moved me the most.
Can poverty make people happier? I think it can. Some of my most favorite activities have nothing to do with spending money. I love writing, here on my blog, and with my friend Olivia on our story, and I love taking photographs with my digital camera (no film or developing costs!). I love spending evenings down by the pool and at the beach with Jamie. We don't own a car, and I take the ferry and bus to work every day. I wouldn't even think of trading my beautiful commute across the Sydney harbor, and it's loads cheaper than paying for a car and parking in the CBD.
This weekend, a coworker has invited me to a birthday picnic at a beautiful nature preserve right near my house. Board games, chats with friends over a glass with wine, watching the sunset over the harbor or the moon rise through the harbor bridge. These are all things that don't involve money but, on the whole, are really what make me happier. Sure it's fun to go to the movies, but it's not really a social activity anyway. I can bet you that if I had a video camera and friends who were game to be silly, I could have way more fun trying to make movies with them than going to see a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.
Maybe having less money doesn't make us happier, but it definitely seems like it helps put things into perspective. It gets us out of the cycle of spending more for short term pleasures and helps us focus on what really makes us happy. Each-other.
Have a read and tell me what you think. Does money distract us from what really makes us happy?