"Buy Some Happiness" is probably my favorite chapter title in THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. It's blunt, straightforward, and unexpected (not because we don't try this all the time, but because it's so un-PC to admit it). I love that Gretchen is willing to explore the extent to which we can use currency to get us where we want to go.
It made me think of how most of us have picked up some odd little indicators that make us think, "That's what you have when you're rich." I remember one day, back when I worked for the New York Times bestselling author: We were in her kitchen making breakfast and talking about some new political development when I noticed this set of jars on her counter. They were clear, and filled with nuts: cashews, pecans, almonds. I love nuts. I'd never seen them in such profusion in one person's house. They were decorative AND edible! It amazed me to see how, as we chatted away, she'd just reach over, grab a jar, and pull out an handful. I wasn't poor at the time--I was four years out of law school--but I couldn't imagine that kind of wealth.
You can bet that the minute Steve and I got back from our honeymoon, I got a set of those little Oggi Canisters and made a little nut collection of my own. It still makes me happy.
My dad tells a similar story about seeing a wealthy aunt eat sliced grapefruit from a can when he was a boy. All his life, even though intellectually he knows better, canned grapefruit has represented wealth and even decadence to him. Strange stuff, this.
What if we can leverage these little proclivities for good? What if we can buy happiness? Last night when I couldn't sleep, I considered what other things buy me a little jolt of joy by providing that "I feel rich!" feeling: A full tank of gas in the car is strangely exciting to me (it's like, "I could go ANYWHERE!"). As is any trip to the bookstore where I emerge with a bag full of new ideas between two covers. I love having enough of the basics: underwear, soap, etc. (having extra toothbrushes on hand makes me feel more like a successful adult than my law degree ever has). And prompted by the other day's magazine exploration, I sent in a couple of new subscriptions. Magazines make me feel rich.
I'll be at an all-day conference today, so won't be doing much shopping. But I want to keep thinking about this question of how we can buy some happiness. I think it's worthwhile.
How about you: What makes you feel rich? Do you think happiness can be bought?