It’s Christmas time and most people are out shopping hard, spending furiously, hoping to bring happiness to others. The more they spend, they greater the happiness they hope to bring. But – really – happiness is mostly free! So many wonderful experiences cost nothing, but create great value, bring great happiness. Happiness is (mostly) free! Let me explain.A highlight of my normal day is my morning walk. I have around 20 different walking routes, along old train track trails, paths in gardens, leafy green suburban streets crossing busy main streets only briefly, minimising their unpleasant noisiness.
The freshness of the air, the large deciduous trees, carefully tended gardens, observing housing demotion, renovation or construction changes, smiling at others exercising early, sharing our enjoyment and implicit, informal fitness club, feeling my body warming up, stretching out, lungs expanding going up hills, enjoying the balanced beauty of athletic runners, the sunrise, the excitement of a new day full of promise.
And it all costs nothing!
If it’s a slow day, I return to a leisurely breakfast. A simple meal of fresh squeezed orange juice, toast, coffee, reading the papers online, thinking about a good article, exercising my mind. Though I am no longer working fulltime, I enjoy wrestling with issues. I believe it is important and want our world to change for the better.
And it all costs almost nothing, especially compared with eating out at a café.
When I’m having lunch at home, I find myself watching the birdfeeders and birdponds I’ve recently installed. I’ve managed to attract many rainbow lorrikeets and doves, some wattlebirds, ravens, magpies, magpie-larks and even four kookaburras for a couple of days in winter. To the sounds of water falling gently from the fountain, against a background of constantly changing garden flowers, these sights are actually some of the highlights of my day!
And they all cost virtually nothing! I sit and watch. Birds fly, call, eat, drink. Flowers bloom. Fountain water patterns change in infinite variations.
There are many other experiences during my day that are highly valuable, create great happiness, but also cost almost nothing. Spending time conversing with friends all over the world on the internet, or the phone. Walking to the shops. Walking in other parts of the city. Admiring the streetscape, the people, the landscape, the countryside when driving.
I can get so much enjoyment, be so happy, yet spend so little. Buying clothes, buying possessions, eating at restaurants, going to expensive shows, spending on home improvements don’t give me much value at all, despite the costs!
Our society seems hung up on money. If it costs a lot, it must be valuable. If I’ve got money, I should spend it.
Well…not for me. Perhaps if more of us focussed on understanding what gives us real value, we might buy less and be happier!