The Price of Happiness

A Lesson From The 10 Cent Brooch

price of happiness

We were sitting in the car, waiting for my sister who was then in third grade.

Glancing around the school playground, we watched little boys and girls energetically celebrate their daily release from the confines of their classrooms.

Running crazily around at top speed. Swinging wildly or climbing up monkey bars. Chasing each other, chucking paper balls at foes and emptying water bottles over friends.

A short, bouncy little whirlwind rushed up to our window.

“Daddy! Daddy, please give me 5 rupees. I want to buy this brooch!”

She stuck out her tiny hand. Clutched tightly in it was a small plastic wrapper.

Inside it was a little blue brooch.

I glanced at it, and turned away, thinking dad would refuse point blank.

To my surprise, he reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and extracted a crisp 5 rupee bill.

Handing it over to the eager, excited little girl, he said, “Come back quickly”.

For a moment, I sat in silence. Then I exploded in indignant remonstration.

“Surely that little thing isn’t worth more than a few paise. Why did you give her 5 rupees for it?”

Dad didn’t speak for some time. Then he replied.

“Today, 5 rupees can buy her happiness. Later on, it may not be possible. Or so cheap.”

5 rupees, back then, was about 10 cents.

The lesson I learned from that experience has been worth several thousand dollars over the years.

When you can ‘buy’ happiness, don’t count the ‘price’.

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