This I Believe

Joshua - Joliet, Illinois
Entered on May 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Money: For Better or Worse

They say that “money cannot buy happiness”. Well, at one point in my life, I believed that money was the only thing that made people happy. During that time, my views of being rich were vague due to my ignorance of happiness. I thrived on trying to make a six figure salary, living in a condo in a big city, and hoping to one day own that perfect car. Through time, I have learned to understand that those possessions have very little effect on my well-being. I believe that certain things, such as money, in people’s lives unconsciously drive them to become unhappy. My recent experiences with elderly people who were unhappy have shown me that that there are wealthy people are not happy.

It all started when I was 16 when I had got my first job. It was a position at a local Retirement home in Joliet near my high school, and I was paid a bearable $6.25 per hour working as a Dietary Aid. While working there, I got the opportunity to meet with a lot of new people, places, and things. I met many residents that had come from all different levels of wealth. The majority of the residents that did not have very much money at all. However, some residents had so much wealth that they could not even keep track of all of their money. I specifically remember meeting a woman named Patricia—or Pat as she liked to be called. She was a stocky lady who was about 62 years old and was a former resident of Maryland. Pat was very alert, and looked pretty young for her age. She was the oldest of four children, and grew up with two wealthy, hard-working parents. A lot was expected from Pat at a very young age seeing that she as the eldest of her siblings; she instinctively became the “motherly figure” in the family when her parents weren’t home. After leaving her home, she got married and had kids of her own. Ironically, she was expected to do the same motherly routine all over again. Now, without a husband, it seemed as if Pat was a lonely soul stuck in a retirement home with nobody except herself and a whole bunch of money.

Pat’s motherly persona came out when said to another resident, “Look at her…how she dare comes out to lunch in her pajamas,”

I then approached pat and asked her, “Why are you [sound] so unhappy all the time, you’re rich Pat!”

She replied by saying, “I’m not rich, and if you’re thinking that money is what’s making me happy…well— it isn’t. I’ve had a hard time growing up without [much of parents]. [I]t’s not easy when you’re the oldest child, and you’re the mother [to your parent’s children] and then your own [children]. I sacrificed my childhood for my parents to be rich.

I was taken back by Pat’s comments, but then it slowly dawned on me that was acting how “Pat” raised herself to act. Despite her older age of 62, Pat was still looking for that one moment of comfort. I believed that she had yearned all her life for just that one someone to give her a piece of genuine love that she missed as a child. This was the kind of love that her parents couldn’t resolve with gifts and riches. I don’t even think that Pat’s children fully understood how bad Pat craved that one bit of happiness. In fact, I don’t think anybody will ever know

I have fully come to understand my belief that money is not always related to happiness. Understand Pat’s story has taught me that it takes a lot more than just having money to become content (even at the age of 62). Through Pat, I have learned to appreciate my Parents for their caring and concerning personalities. I can now say that I’ve truly found happiness. It is not in the future; it is not in the past, but it is now. Happiness is happening right here, right now, and its up to me to make the best of all of the new situations ahead of me. Money cannot buy joy, but joy can buy a lifetime full of happiness.