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Happiness at Home

Edmund Marsh

I HAVE READ THAT spending on experiences brings more happiness than spending on things. But what about the experience of buying? Can that make us happy?

I’ve lived in my small community for 21 years. Over that time, my regular buying habits have led me to discover people who provide me with excellent service. They also supply me with a generous measure of genuine satisfaction.

Every third Friday, I sit and listen to a great raconteur as he cuts my hair. Rick’s stories are sometimes touching, sometimes indignant, but always humorous. His talk is voluminous and rapid. I have to slide in my stories edgewise. Rick gets a raise as my income goes up, and I don’t mind paying it. I leave with a happy heart as well as a haircut.

I own several gasoline-powered tools, which means I frequent a shop run by Javin, a master of small engine repair.  We always take a moment to catch up. He updates me on his father, who operated the shop before an illness forced him into early retirement. We worry about the weather, which affects his business and my garden. I could save money by doing some repairs and maintenance myself, and sometimes I do, but I don’t mind giving work to Javin. I find pleasure in doing my part to keep his business open.

My heart sank the day last year that Arnie told me he was closing his car repair shop to take a teaching job at the local technical college. For years, he had helped me milk more miles out of my cars. I was happy for him, though, because I knew dependable help was scarce and he was overworked. Arnie didn’t leave me stranded. He recommended a mechanic friend who has since proven his worth. I’m hopeful that he will become my new friend.

These people, and others like them, are a part of my life. I’ve helped them celebrate their good times and commiserate their dark days. I care about what happens to them and their families. Our relationships have their ups and downs, but the friendships endure.

The happiness of a shared experience in an exotic location is sweet, but that’s not the only place it lives. If we hunt for it, we can find happiness in the mundane transactions that make up the life we live at home. We might discover it at the hardware store or the shop near the train station where we get our morning bagel.

I’m all for the big experience, the search for adventure in a faraway place. I like savoring the anticipation of something new. But I also like making regular deposits to my happiness account here at home.

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