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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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DrLefty
DrLefty
3 months ago

We’ve lived in the same college town for over 30 years, and I’ve grown to cherish the various business relationships I’ve built—my dentist/hygienist and optometrist, of course, but also my hair stylist, my Pilates instructor, the husband-wife owners of my favorite nail salon, and my regular massage therapist. Even the family-owned Mexican place where we eat lunch on the patio almost every Saturday. These have all become established relationships that border on friendships. Heck, I see some of these folks more than I do my actual friends.

I worry about when my hair stylist, who’s several years older than I am, moves to Arizona to live near her daughter, and I’ve already lost two massage therapists and a Pilates instructor over the years as their lives moved on. But it feels like a nice rhythm to know where I’m going and whom I’m seeing to get my stuff done.

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
3 months ago
Reply to  DrLefty

“A nice rhythm.” Yes, that’s a good way to put it.

Matt Dewell
Matt Dewell
3 months ago

Thanks Edmund! This is one of the best Humble Dollar blog posts I’ve read!

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt Dewell

Thanks for your kind comment, Matt.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
3 months ago

Edmund, I really enjoyed this, especially because I agree with the message. I likewise get pleasure and satisfaction from many small and mundane experiences close to home. And that includes the doctors, dentist, vet, grocery store, post office, tree man, and many other businesses that we’ve patronized over the years.

It helps when you’ve lived in the same place for decades. And retirement enhances the effect because you have more time to appreciate the experiences—and at a slower pace.

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
3 months ago

Thanks Andrew. I look forward to that slower pace.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
3 months ago

Edmund, thanks for an interesting article. I’m also a big fan of shopping local whenever possible. One of the fun things about moving to a new town last year was finding those great local shops.

I also think prioritizing experiences doesn’t necessarily mean big expenses (although it can). Some of our family’s greatest experiences were camping in a Sears cabin tent.

Edmund Marsh
Edmund Marsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick Connor

Thank you for your comment, Rick. I agree, fun time with family in any circumstance rates high with me.

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