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Treasure Digest: Can't Buy Happiness

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Treasure Digest

Can't Buy Happiness

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OK, so a big raise or a beautiful new car may not guarantee happiness, but they can make us a little happier, can't they?

Maybe, but not for long, says an extensive study. "Economist Richard Easterlin of the University of Southern California examined data from 1,500 people surveyed repeatedly over a 28-year period. He found that while healthy people are generally happier than unhealthy ones and married people are happier than unmarrieds, increases in wealth and material possessions improve happiness only briefly" (Jeffrey Kluger, "No Price Tag on Happiness," Time, Sept. 8, 2003, page 99).

"When you get something new, the thrill quickly wears off, and even if it didn't, there's always someone out there who has something better," Mr. Kluger wrote explaining the findings.

More than 70 years ago, a blind and deaf woman grasped "The Simplest Way to Be Happy," though her wisdom obviously is drawn from a much older source. Helen Keller wrote: "A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships...The simplest way to be happy is to do good. This is instant and infallible happiness. The surest proof that this is the law of cause and effect is, we may try every other conceivable way of being happy, and they will all fail. We cannot gather figs from thorns or grapes from thistles. The tree bears fruit after its kind both in the soil and in the soul" (Home Magazine, February 1933, www.afb.org).