This article was originally titled 'Can’t buy me love" by J.F. Pisani
in 1995. The truth never changes.
“Can’t buy me love”-J.F. Pisani
One of the unhappiest men I ever met is a man who has everything that money can buy.
He possesses what society would have us believe are the crucial components of a happy life: a
six-figure salary, a prestigious and powerful job, success in business, a luxury car, an elegant
house, stocks, a charming wife, beautiful children, countless materal possessions and the list goes
on and on.
He meditates and practices Tai Chi Chuan; he works out at the gym: he vacations in Europe, on
Cape Code and in the Caribbean. And yet there is one thing he doesnt have-happiness.
What is the cause of such chronic and persistent discontentment?
It is easy to blame unhappiness on other people, especially family and friends, or on external
events-until you meet someone whose serenity is not buffeted by what goes on around him and
does not depend on possessions.
Many of us never learn that all the material things we strive for, along with our emotional goals
such as finding fairy-tale love, do not lead to happiness. Usually, they lead to disillusionment and
despair, or to an insatiable hunger for more because we are never satisfied.
In recent years, an emerging school of psychotherapy called the “science of well-being” has
concentrated on how to achieve happiness. An edition of Psychology Today featured a special
report entitled “On the Road to Happiness,” about our perennial pursuit of that most elusive
state of mind. On the cover was a smiling and attractive model (who probably has a contract with
a very high-priced New York agency) sitting behind the wheel of a flashy convertible-a woman, we
are led to believe, who is well on her way to happiness.
The magazine featured a pop-psychology grab bag on how to find happiness-who has it and how
you, too, can get it. There were stories about yoga, sex therapy and the miracle drug Prozac, which
has become the quick and easy path to psychic well-being for the New Age crowd.
Despite such simplistic notions, happiness is a state of mind that eludes modern mad. The Jesuit
spiritual director Anthony de Mello once wrote that we do not want to be happy: “We want other
things. Or let’s put it more accurateely: We don’t want to be unconditionally happy.
I’m ready to be happy provided I have this and that and other things… We cannot imagine being
happy without those conditions. We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We’ve been
taught to place our happiness in them.
The modern pursuit of happiness leads only to frustration and disenchantment because we spend
our lives looking in all the wrong places-in bars, in adulterous relationships, in our careers, in
physical pleasure. We look everywhere except the one place where happiness is sure to be found,
and that is in a relationship with Christ.
Our society would have us believe that success and prestige are the paths to happiness. Closer to
the truth, howerver, was the psalmist who did not have a degree in psychology but who was per-
ceptive enough to know the real secret:
“They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law. They are happy who do his
will, seeking him with all their hearts, who never do anything evil, but walk in his ways.”
Best of all, it is is a formula for happiness that does not cost a penny.