Guest Author - Jenna Sawyer
Can money buy spiritual happiness? First, let's clarify what I mean by "spirit". I am not talking about anything supernatural or literally eternal here. What I mean by the word is the essence of a person's character. The consolidation of all aspects of the person, or, I should say, all aspects of the person's mind. So when I say that something gives spiritual peace, I mean that it puts that person in his or her most comfortable state. This comfortable state is not of the temporary satisfaction variety, but rather of an enduring and honestly soothing nature.
Money cannot do things to people. Money is inanimate. It stands for something, of course, but it can't alter a person's spirit- that is, make a person think, feel, or do anything. A person has the thoughts, therefore the choice. Money cannot corrupt anyone, but a person who was corrupt before might, with increased financial standing, feel freer to show his or her nature. The money still hasn't influenced anything.
So, can money and the material objects it purchases make a person happy? They make me happy, but that's because I am not asking them to carry the sole responsibility for my happiness. Also, while money doesn't give the pleasure, the deserving it does. What feels better than knowing you've done something worthy of an honest reward? Money can make those who are already capable of joy more joyful, but it is not a quick fix for character flaws.
People are constantly twisting themselves in an effort to find peace. Given the current world climate (though not just the current one, of course) and the theories for attaining stable happiness touted everywhere, the bewilderment is understandable. To a certain degree. Nothing can change without some accepted truths (whether accepted with full awareness or accepted blindly) changing. Here, now, is what my hand and mind produced for this, which came out as a listing of strongly advised advice. It's true I turned a little preachy here, but these are some of the things I've discovered which have made difficult times substantially less so.
- We do not have gods in common. We have rational minds (or the potential for them) in common. Which should govern the law?
- It is more than just all right to be proud of achieving something. There is no reason to be humble- just honest. Bragging is completely different from acknowledging that you've done something good, and this acknowledgment should be possible with or without encouragement or praise from others. If someone else feels hurt when you acknowledge this truth, that is not your fault. And who is really the bad guy there?
- External objects and conditions can't alter what must be fixed internally. "Getting outside yourself" doesn't work. Maybe for a little a while, but the problem will remain, hungry as ever for an ending. True, some time away may give you a fresh perspective, but for deep wounds, medicate internally (not actual chemical medications unless truly necessary, of course). Escapism is weakness that only serves to complicate.
- Forgetting yourself totally and focusing on others does not work. How can you really make a difference to anyone else before you've finished shaping yourself? You are you, and your interests are yours. Who else should look after them? If you want to help others, wonderful, but no one should be forced or even obligated to do it. I am writing this for myself first, of course. If others enjoy it (or hate it and think about why they do), then, yes, that makes me happy. But for it to mean anything, it has to be primarily for me. Otherwise, what have I offered?
- The idea that we are supposed to spend most of our lives suffering is disgusting. If someone says "pain is noble"- or any of its many variants- he or she is most likely talking about yours, not his or hers. But we know it isn't true, that life should be mostly a burden. We don't live for the bad moments. Of course not.
- The right action in a situation is neither always the simplest nor always the most complicated. Neither expediency nor convolution automatically determines a right path.
- Speaking of right actions, in a given situation, consider first what you can do, not what is being done to you. Only your choices are yours to make (there is a lot spoken in that one sentence). Is there nothing else you can do to improve things for yourself? Honestly?
- Your heart should follow your head, not the other way around.
- When speaking of the rights/ property of someone else, you may negotiate or walk away. You may not demand or take. We all know how that works out.
- Someone doing worse than you does not mean you did the best you could. Yes, we have to be able to realize when we really have tried everything we could, but how often do we let ourselves fall short of that and call it our best?
-Beyond the respect for your basic right to freedom, no one owes you anything. We aren't born in debt to one another. Our consideration for individual rights is an even trade, cleared on the spot, not charity or a loan. The kindnesses we extend to one another are for our own pleasure, and that is not wrong (but I think denying our motives is).
- The things you see, think, and feel are real. They are not "all an illusion", and even if they were you'd still have to live by them. Don't discount them. Examine them, question them, but don't let anyone else fill in the answers. Life isn't the kind of quiz you pass by cheating.
- Always remember that you have to live with the choices you make. Results can be delayed, but not avoided.
- Finally, look around. A lot of things are bad. They have been bad for a long time. Why?
- Now, and this is the real "finally"- look around again. A lot of things are good. Aren't they worth questioning and resisting the bad for?
No, I don't believe the satisfaction of a resolved and untroubled spirit can be bought, but I do believe it can be won.