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Who Says You Can’t Buy Happiness?

22 November 2017

It’s been said that you can’t buy happiness. But is that really true? And, is the financially “prudent” decision always the best decision to promote your happiness? I think the answer to both questions is “no.”

A couple of emails back, I introduced you all to our 4-year-old cavachon, Eleanor Rigby. We call her “Ellie.” I brought Ellie home as a puppy in December of 2013. This entailed a 2½ hour drive from Atlanta, where I had flown on business, through the beautiful, rolling hills of Georgia, to pick her up, and another 2½ hour drive back to the Atlanta airport. The cost of bringing Ellie home to New Orleans was not limited to 5 hours of driving time; I also had to pay for Ellie’s purchase, an airline ticket, a leash and a collar, a travel kennel, and food.

As the new “baby” in our family, Ellie’s costs were ongoing – we hired a trainer to teach her to sit and stay, and not to chew our shoes and furniture. There were, and are, of course, vet bills (we’ve made fast friends with Dr. Ned!). New leashes and collars as she grew, and as she wears them out. Food and water dishes, and the food to feed her.

Then, with Ellie’s family consisting of two working “parents” and a hard-studying high-school senior with a long list of outside interests and activities, we felt she needed more socializing than we could give her. To provide it, we enrolled her in a daytime doggy play-group.

So, Ellie has been expensive, yes – and not only in terms of money spent – time, effort, energy, emotion have all been lavished on her. But, as those Mastercard ads remind us, experiencing Ellie has been priceless.

Ellie is always thrilled to see me when I get home from work, and she just melts my heart, with her shiny black button eyes pleading for a scrap of chicken from our dinner table. She’s a good family therapist, too! We filter sensitive conversations through Ellie:

Me: “Ellie, have you taken a look at the American Express statement this month? Do you know who spent $300 on a doormat?”

My wife: “Ellie, please remind your daddy that he asked me to buy a doormat for the front door. He did not specify a budget.”


Me: “Ellie, do you know whether Meghan has finished her college essay yet?”

Meghan: “Ellie, would you tell Daddy I’m working on it? And he should mind his own business.”

Me: “Ellie, please remind your sister that she is my business – just like you. And college essays don’t finish themselves.”

Meghan: “Ellie, please remind Daddy that he said college is supposed to be a good experience, it’s not supposed to make me all anxious and stressed.”

And so forth. And we laugh, and keep things lighter than we would – almost certainly – without Ellie.

Frankly, I don’t remember what it felt like not to have Ellie in our family. But I know it feels a lot better having her. I can’t imagine ever feeling anything but happy and grateful that we brought Ellie home.

If we were only concerned about budget-consciousness, we never would have gotten Ellie. But it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

So, yes, I think you can buy happiness!

Happiness is a warm puppy – Charles Schultz

Please consider sharing your thoughts with us, and feel free to share this email with your friends and family.

Until next Wednesday – Happy Thanksgiving!



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