Archive | 11:59 PM

Happiness Project Update 20: Paying It Forward One Penny at a Time

23 Jan

“Feel good, be good and do good.” Author Unknown.

I’m all for this. I’m all about the good. I mean who isn’t, right? So while working on expanding some of that good, I continue on my Happiness Project quest and finished the Buying Some Happiness section in Gretchen Rubin‘s book. I liked the fact that she was realistic in most of the chapter, admitting to the fact that money does help provide options for happiness or moments of happiness, but it’s not the main mojo for it.

I concur. Money plays a factor. Most people don’t think so, or might not admit it. But I do. I came clean about it in my last HP Update.

But as I kept reading she brought up an interesting point …

“It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.”

Dude. This would never happen with chocolate. Never. I know they say “never say never,” but I’m saying it. I could never buy enough chocolate. There is no limit to the powers of the cacao bean. However, when talking about parenting and kids, curbing your enthusiasm is a definite must.

Image via

Image via

As adults we know that there’s a line when it comes to buying things for yourself as a reward or special splurge, and turning into a crazed shopaholic with 12 different credit cards all maxed out. We get it. At least some of us do. But when you’re at the train store, or Target, or Best Buy, or Costco and your kids want you to buy them something every single time you go somewhere, that seems to be the path of a shopaholic for sure. We all want nice things and we all want them for our kids, but when it comes to them, sometimes buying them more “stuff” can do more damage than good. Sometimes teaching your kids about modest pleasures instead of instant gratification can help in their own happiness. It can help produce an atmosphere of growth, appreciation for the “good things,” and fiscal responsibility. And then you feel ecstatic as parent because you think you did an awesome job of raising someone who isn’t materialistic in a very money-oriented label-minded world. You raised someone with values and that makes you extremely happy as a parent.

For instance LEGOLAND. It is the be all and end all of trips when it comes to my four-year old. It is his mecca. It is his chocolate. Now some people have the ability to take their kids four or five times a year. We go once a year. I explained that the trip usually comes as a result of all his good behavior throughout the year and I mention some of his achievements, like sharing with his sister knowing full well she’s probably going to stomp on the toy in the end, being able to finally master penmanship and write his name, being able to transition successfully into preschool even though they have Children of the Corn-like parents roaming around,  like working hard, practicing and doing well in his little golf competition, and for being an overall good kid.

I also make him aware that we save all year-long. We put in all our spare change from every purchase into his makeshift piggy bank we created out of an old Kleenex box. We got Martha Stewart creative and thus was his LEGOLAND box was born. Quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Even some dollar bills. Every day we’d add a little something and he’d see his savings grow.  And he wouldn’t take any money out of it no matter what. He knew he was getting closer to his goal. We ended up with about 250+ dollars last year. And he enjoyed spending every bit of it on the entrance to the park, hot dogs, chocolate cake, Lego souvenirs, and Lego memories.

Once the morning came and he saw his empty box, he said … “We need to start saving money in my LEGOLAND box so we can go again. It’s gonna take a long time. But we can do it.”

I like his perseverance. It makes me think that I have taught him something, hopefully it’s in the realm of appreciating good things when they happen to you and being able to be responsible enough with your money that you can save up for what you want and enjoy it with the people you love. Hopefully I’ve paid the happiness lesson forward, one penny at time.