This year, my proudest moment so far has been to return home after work to discover two letters waiting for me – one from the university I once studied at, and the other from Samaritans. Both were thank you letters for my monetary donations. It seems, spent the right way, money can buy happiness.
Since I was a kid, I admittedly have had somewhat of a hero complex. I always felt it was my job to save people. It may have been due to growing up in a rough area and witnessing (and sometimes experiencing) verbal and racial abuse. It made me realise from an early age that there is real suffering on our planet and it is every citizen of the world’s responsibility to look after one another.
As I mentioned in my very first post on this blog, I have been working to achieve 100 things on my to do list this year. One very important item was to donate to charity. I pledged I would donate £500 to charity this year and am happy to say that I have already exceeded this target through one-off donations and the setting up of monthly debits.
After donating to my previous university for various forms of research and bursaries and setting up debits to Samaritans and Save the Children, I realised that in an odd way, money can buy happiness contrary to the popular saying ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ (which I myself have likely covered in this blog). I won’t lie and say I don’t need money to be happy (I wish I was such a saint!), but I will say that I perhaps don’t need as much as the majority but as I earn it I do of course spend to enjoy it. However, giving to good causes and charity brought more happiness to me than even all the other exciting things on my list. Money may not buy your ultimate happiness, but it can make someone else incredibly happy. It can buy them food. It can buy them clean water. It can buy them clothes and shelter. It can save their life.
We can become deaf and blind to the audible or visual campaign requests to donate to good causes, which state something along the lines of, ‘For every pound you spend, you can save three children’s lives’. But we should really let that sink in. That cup of coffee you buy each morning before work – it likely cost more than £1. You can happily buy that and believe in its worth (and yes I agree that to those of us lucky enough to afford it, it does have its worth). But next time you buy one, I want you to really appreciate it. You are fortunate enough to drink something that in monetary terms could have saved a number of lives via many of the charities across the globe. I’m not saying to donate that money to charity instead, although perhaps at least once a year that would be nice of you; I am saying that you should fully appreciate even that simple cup of coffee knowing that others aren’t so fortunate to have what is a normal occurrence in your life.
Donating money inadvertently made me have more job satisfaction. For those who earn to provide for their families, they will likely feel happier whilst working because they are essentially earning for the health and happiness of their families. I don’t yet have anyone majorly financially dependent on me and had not yet experienced that glimmer you get in knowing that you are making someone incredibly happy with your money. You are providing them with creature comforts and quality of life. As soon as I donated few hundred pounds in a day, I realised that my work now had added purpose. I wasn’t just earning so that I could buy myself a nice holiday (as much as I enjoy them!). I was earning to pay for healthcare, education, food, protection and livelihoods for children and their families. I was earning to save the person who felt so lonely and had no one to talk to except the friendly voice at the end of a helpline. I was earning so that the homeless on London’s streets over a cold winter could enjoy that coffee with my spare change. I was earning to make lives better – not just my life – but other citizens of the world.
So no, money can’t buy my core happiness, but by having money to give to others, it can make a difference to their happiness and their lives and make me happy in knowing that I was able to support them.
My selected charities are:
Savethechildren.org.uk – Give children across the globe a healthy start in life, with protection from harm and the opportunity of an education.
Samaritans.org – Every 90mins, a person in the UK or Ireland dies from suicide. Samaritans provides 24-7 phone support for people feeling confused, lonely, depressed or even for those just having a hard day.
What charities are you passionate about? Why not make a one off or regular donation to them? Even if it’s just a few pounds or dollars, you could be someone’s mystery hero.