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Happiness is not an Entitlement

For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I find it somewhat amusing and ironic that those of us who write about personal finance seldom get credit for why we focus on this very subject. We aren’t writing with the purpose of hoarding a large sum of cash to brag about. In fact, we write about personal finance so that financial issues won’t pose any threat to our inner purpose and to live a simple, happy life.

Perhaps, our politicians are to blame for a long list of entitlements, but they have not considered happiness as an entitlement yet.

Nonetheless, my experience at a restaurant recently made me think about importance of balance between happiness and hedonism.

I happen to visit a local restaurant that I like for lunch. I really enjoy their food and quiet setting. As usual, food was delicious this time, but quietness was lost in a vociferous conversation I was destined to listen. A couple was arguing about their personal affair so I tried my best not to tune in. But, my efforts were in vain.

Wife:  What have you given me in this six years of marriage? I asked for BMW and you gave me Honda Civic. I asked for Louis Vuitton watch and you gave me a cheap one. You’ve never given me happiness.

Husband: Honey, I have never turned you down, but I can’t afford those things. Besides, we have to think about our kids and their future. We are living on one income so that you can spend more time with kids.

Wife: I quit my job for you. Now I regret that I have nothing while you are making a decent income.

Husband: I am spending every waking moment of my life to ensure that our family lives a happy life. What I make is for all of us not just myself. But, we have to understand what is important in life.

Wife: I don’t want to hear your lectures on happiness. You can’t preach happiness as you’ve never taken time to understand what makes me happy.

Husband: I truly love you and I understand what makes you happy. Unfortunately, I don’t make enough to buy you happiness.

While this conversation continued, I requested a waiter to lend me a piece of paper and a pen.

I quickly scribbled: Happiness is not an entitlement. Learn to earn it.

I dropped the piece of paper on their table and quickly whisked away from the scene.

You won’t be happy if you decide not to. Those who decide to embrace happiness will not allow circumstances to sabotage their happiness; and those who decide not to become happy will do so even if happiness is starring right into their eyes. Happiness is a state of mind and happiness has no nexus to hedonism.

If this lady was born 100 years ago, she still would have found reasons not to embrace happiness that was starring in her eyes.

Think about it. Stand of living in America has gone up drastically in last 50 years yet stress has taken toll on our lives. We have everything that was considered a living standard for aristocrats just 50 years ago. Perhaps, we can learn from an old generation about the importance of  simplicity and focus on those values that are backbone of a moral and noble society.

We can chat with loved ones or talk with them no matter where we live on this planet. We can share our videos or even talk live to share happiness at no cost. Yet happiness is mere mirage for some who think that they deserve it.

I now have a new-found passion to write with the chief aim to eradicate this growing voice of entitlements.


How to Give Like a Billionaire @ Jlcollinsnh

How to Make a Relationship Last @ Prairieecothrifter

When Do You have Enough? @Krantcents

Photo by: Cinnerrr

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Comments (12)

“we write about personal finance so that financial issues won’t pose any threat to our inner purpose and to live a simple, happy life.”

What a great summary. That’s it, exactly.

As you and Mr. Emerson both indicate, happiness is a choice. FI doesn’t create it. We’ve all known miserable rich people and those happy on little.

But for many, maybe most, of us it does sweep away enough obstacles that the choice becomes easier.

Thank you, Jim! I am learning a lot from you my friend!!

Hi. I stumbled on your blog by accident and have just started on your simple path to wealth. Thank you so much — not only for our financial advice but for your perseptive on life and happiness.

Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate your kind words.

Kick the bitch to the curb. Mucho pronto.

I felt bad for the poor guy. And even worst for the ignorant woman who didn’t know that marriage is a responsible union of two individuals who commit their lives for each other. Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

It isn’t wrong for her to wish for the BMW and Louis Vuitton watch, but to expect someone else to get them for her is just dumb.

Want good things in life? Earn it! :)


One of the most fundamental lessons–of both life and personal finance–that the couple you overhead don’t seem to grasp is this: Once we’ve achieved a modestly comfortable lifestyle (e.g., food on the table, indoor plumbing, shelter), there’s no connection between happiness and possessions. Many people seem instinctively to equate happiness with stuff and even with love. Sadly, with this perspective, what one has is never enough.

I can’t agree with you more, Kurt! Well said.

As I age, I find this to be a self-evident truth. I only have control over how I feel, how I act or how I think. I do not have control over what others do or do not do. This has helped me immensely in reducing stress and anxiety. Life is short and at 61 I am starting to get it!

That’s very wise thinking, Steven!