a guide to investing
About a week ago, I had a pretty interesting conversation with my best friend about happiness. Although I think it is fair to sit back, stare at this opening sentence, and dismiss this already as some airy sentiment-based discourse on something that is highly intangible and cannot be measured in a standardized way (what I mean by this is, simply put, that everyone has different ideas about happiness and what it means to them), I also think that it is very important to distinguish one, extremely important thing about happiness.
It’s an investment.
To ground this statement, here it is in basic paradigmatic terms: if I were a purveyor of apples and I was to give my friend an apple, I would expect to be paid. By giving me a dollar, my friend completes the business transaction and I am satisfied, as I have just turned a profit. Profits are great, as anyone who is mildly cognizant of anything that goes on in business. However, imagine an alternate reality where, rather than selling the apple, I take the apple and plant it so that it grows into a tree. Here I am losing this profit potential and bearing the inevitable upfront costs of having to cultivate an apple tree (I honestly have no idea how much cultivation apple trees require, but just bear with me here), but I am ultimately gaining by having a whole entire tree full of apples to give me a high yield and stability in all my future apple selling endeavors.
If I’ve lost you, basically I could have sold one apple but decided to grow a tree from that apple instead.
What this example serves to symbolize is essentially what the nature of happiness is. In one reality, the sale of the apple brings me happiness since I now have another dollar to spend, but this happiness is not sustainable—after the apple is gone and after I have spent my dollar, what do I have left? On the other hand, by forgoing the prospects of quick cash to take the time and effort (and maybe even love; apples rock) to invest in the growth of an apple tree, I am landing myself an investment that will slowly appreciate over time. This is what happiness is.
So, to apply this somewhat overly simplistic analysis of what happiness is and how to attain it to our lives is to say THINK ABOUT WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Think less about the impermanent things in life and think more about the things that you love, are passionate about, and believe in. For me, personally, these fleeting things are rooted in impulse. For others, these fleeting things will likely take on a wholly different meaning. The point is, without the identification of things/ideas/whatever that really matter to us and things/ideas/whatever that we can have a vested interest in, happiness will always be something just right outside our reach. Furthermore, true happiness is not instant gratification and it does not come easy. It is a high-return investment, and therefore also high-risk. To get to the places you want to in life, there will be unavoidable and unexpected hardships that will assuredly cause you to want to give up entirely. However, by taking the inherent risks involved in investing, there is something bigger and better to be gained that promises to be more enduring. That something is happiness; is it worth the investment to you?>