Today our Iowa Mooc talk was on the pleasure of poetry and we are to write a poem for the pleasure of it. It is true that I have been feeling that my writing poetry is pointless, what am I doing it for etc. and the lecture today was so comforting, if that’s the right word. Walter Pater says poetry, “offers nothing except for the quickening of your moments on earth”. James Galvin talks about poetry’s ability to “speed you up and make you more intense, more alive.”
I guess that depends on how good you are at writing it but it is certainly true for me when reading poems.
I then started thinking about happiness. There are lots of articles around about money not buying happiness yet we still buy a lotto ticket each week and spend it in our minds. At a dinner party recently we started talking about what we would do if we won 25 million. Most of us could only manage to spend about 5-6 and actually were were all pretty happy with what we had. An interesting discussion ensued about where the buck stopped in terms of giving it away to friends. Evidence shows that winning the lottery ruins social relationships and winners become more antisocial.
Michael Norton on the TED talk above says money does buy happiness, it just depends what you spend it on. It turns out people get the most pleasure from spending on others.
So the ways money can make you happy are apparently as follows:
- Spending money on others
- Buying experiences rather than things
- Going out for a few nice dinners not a whole lot of mediocre ones
- Anticipating an event often increases happiness more than the event itself
- The best way money increases happiness is when it buys time (cleaner, house close to work to reduce commute etc).
Henry David Thoreau says, “We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”
and Epicurus reminds us, “unchecked acquisition can lead to tangible anxiety.”
I have always been a stuff buyer in the sense that I love being at home and I like art and books and candles and flowers….and clothes.
Last year, after a lot of thinking I recovered an old set of six chairs that I bought for 165 dollars all up. I covered them with deliciously soft gray/blue velvet that cost 183 dollars a metre and then had the backs printed with chandeliers from one of my favourite shops, Front Room Fabrics. The upholsterer thought I was bonkers. I know they are only stuff and any old chairs would be fine but I still enjoy looking at them, touching them and sitting on them. I often say when I am looking at materials or art or anything really, this moves me or it doesn’t. I even feel the same way about clothes. The Front Room stuff not only looks beautiful, it feels beautiful.
Recently I bought an expensive article of clothing from The Keep. Lela Jacobs designs the clothing and owns this shop. All her materials are chosen with great care and feel fabulous. The shop is called The Keep because the clothes are designed “for keeps”. Am I justifying my extravagance? Probably! (hey, it was in the sale…) More about Lela below.
I went to The Keep after a film in town. I got lost in, and overwhelmed by an ugly mall, stinking of takeaways, camphor from the $2,00 shops, and glassy gaming machines. I couldn’t find the exit to the car park and was feeling utterly frazzled and grubby. It was such a pleasure to enter Lela’s quiet space, with lovely music and beautiful fabrics. It soothed me completely. So…sometimes stuff can buy happiness, that’s all I’m saying
When I was building a house I really needed taps above anything but on my birthday at a local cafe I spent the tap money on a painting by Megan McCormack. I have never for a single moment regretted that.
Megan is an art teacher at Christchurch Boys High School and I hope she finds time to work on her own art while encouraging others in theirs.
I have given up a substantial salary in order to be at home, so furnishings, clothes and stuff will be beyond me a lot of the time. I do know though, that it makes me more selective and thoughtful about the things I do buy. But I am happier than I have ever been. So I guess you don’t need money to flourish but if you have money it can bring happiness but it seems only when you think about how you are spending it. I do believe poverty brings misery. I think it is about having “enough”, however much that is…..
But, hey, what do I know? There are a couple of links to other articles below.
Let me know what you think. FG