Happiness Project Online Book Club: Focusing on Money
The topic on which Gretchen Rubin focuses in her July chapter is one that can lead to avoidance or uncomfortable discussions: Money. She manages to tackle the old “money can’t buy happiness” cliche, pointing out that, like good health, we don’t think about money as long as we have it. When we don’t, it’s hard to think of anything else.
She also deals with the relative nature of wealth.
For me some of the most useful discussion on the book is the concept of the “modest splurge.” I think we all tend to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. We tackle the big expenses, but then we go cheap on little things that can give pleasure. Her example–buying a nice pen that gives pleasure when writing–is a perfect example. I also appreciate the point she makes that “even a modest pleasure can be a luxury if it’s scarce enough.” If we don’t give in to every whim, a small splurge can feel like a luxury.
She also brings up another area of which I’ve been more aware, the idea of saving little luxuries for special occasions. All too often, I find I end up wasting the very things I was saving. I’ve had “special” candles that melted into puddles before I ever lit them.When I moved, I found some “special” jars of sauces and condiments that had passed their “use by” date. I don’t know what I was waiting for.
I’ll confess that I don’t even like to think much about money matters. (That may explain why I abandoned my accounting degree and went back to school to teach English.) This month, though, I’m enjoying the light touch Rubin gives to a topic that has such a big effect on our happiness and especially on our relationships.