Lessons from The Wizard of Oz
I just bought a nice new car, which Iíd been saving up for. I felt excited when I got into it, smelled that new-car smell, and heard the engine purr. That was a week ago. Now, even though Iím still proud of myself for attaining this goal, I donít feel jazzed about the car itself anymore. Why is the thrill gone so quickly? How come I donít stay happy for very long?
Given the amount of debt we Americans are currently up to our ears in, youíd think that money must buy happiness. But just a few years ago, a landmark Harvard study demonstrated that, although many people believe that a nice piece of jewelry, a larger home, a new car, or more money will make them happy, this satisfaction doesnít last long.
The researchers found that what makes us happiest for the greatest duration is something money canít buy: friendship. If we take this conclusion to heartóthat what will make us happiest is our connection with othersóthen we have to believe that our best decisions, the ones that help us thrive and enjoy life the most for the longest time, require nothing more than an open heart.
Often, weíre like the Tin Woodsman or the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, searching everywhere for what we think is missing when itís right there inside of us all along. Our capacity for happiness is like thatóitís right there inside us yet we look far and wide for it, often paying a high price to boot.
Iím not saying you shouldnít buy a car. Iím saying that youíll probably be happier if you have someone in it next to you to crank up the CD player and sing with. If you want to own a bigger home, make sure you focus on creating laughter and love in there.
The Jewish people have a saying: Itís better to give with warm hands. What this means is that itís more enjoyable to share while weíre alive than to hold onto everything until weíre dead, an attorney doling it out to our descendants.
Any material object that we crave will lose its luster once we possess it, while relationships that are joyful and loving never tarnish.