Real Wealth

The article begins with these words. Money doesn’t buy happiness: the Beatles said it, so did Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez.

Money can’t buy happiness, a fact now confirmed in a scientific study by the University of Southern California. ¢â‚¬ËœWhat’s more, people don’t get happier by getting richer,’ according to the USC study titled, “Explaining Happiness.” Richard Easterlin, a USC economist who analyzed data, was quoted as saying, ‘many people are under the illusion that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be. We put all of our resources into making money at the expense of our family and our health … The problem is we don’t realize that our material wants increase with the amount of money we make…Happiness … typically came from spending quality time with loved ones and from good health.’

Three stories this week reminded me of the importance of this finding.

The first involved a woman who tried to sell her baby to her ex-husband in exchange for an SUV and two thousand dollars. This woman needs to learn about the true nature of happiness.

Then there was the story of Dan Klores, who rose from rags to riches as the inspiration behind a leading PR Firm, only to conclude that he had a ¢â‚¬Ëœstuffed Rolodex’ and a ¢â‚¬Ëœstarved soul.’ Reflecting on all he accomplished he concluded, ¢â‚¬ËœIt was never satisfying, no matter how much money and so-called ‘power’ and ‘influence’ I had. I have things to say, to express, and they are, I hope, worthwhile. In a sense, I’ve been in an emotional prison for 20 years, trapped.”

Finally, there is the amazing story of Peter Jaquith who was once worth millions and assisted the legendary Felix Rohatyn at Lazard Freres in mega deals. A cocaine habit and some really bad investments resulted in a descent into poverty financially and spiritually.

His climb out began on Easter day when he hid under tables at the Marriott and was awakened by an Easter Service. As he tells it, ¢â‚¬ËœI crawled under a table and fell asleep. When I awoke, I looked out and saw people all dressed up. It was Easter morning. I loved the music. It was very uplifting. It was pretty startling to me that I had drifted so far down. I started thinking that living as a homeless person was not how I wanted to end up.’

His recovery involved facing his demons and “becoming a person my children can love.”

What did his daughter learned from dad’s experience? Pamela reports, ¢â‚¬ËœMoney isn’t that important. It certainly didn’t make my father happy.’

These vignettes (which I hope you’ll take the time to read) remind us that it really isn’t all about the economy stupid. Jesus provocative question still remains, “what will it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Money and Happiness

Woman Tries to Sell Son

Dan Klores

Peter Jaquith Story

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in August 27, 2003 by | No Comments »

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