By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
I used to travel the United States for a living. I traveled alone for the most part and met up with my fellow musicians at our next contracted venue. I traveled from Seattle to Miami Beach, from San Diego to New York and all points in between. There were times when I would have to pull over to the side of the road to take in some of the most beautiful sights that I never imagined existed in our country. Just as I would begin to marvel and feel the appreciation of the beauty I was seeing, my happy thoughts would soon dwindle into a mild form of sadness. Why? . . . because I had no one with me to share the experience.
Regardless of what you may own or experience, it cannot provide happiness unless shared with someone else who is important to you. Regardless of whatever you may achieve in life, it will not provide happiness unless someone else in your life respects, admires, acknowledges, and enjoys your success with you. Regardless of how much fun a particular activity may be, it is rarely as much fun if only done alone and not with someone else. You may derive pleasure from single activities but not happiness. Happiness can only be attained by having, at least one, meaningful relationship. The more meaningful relationships you have, the more happiness you will have.
Howard Hughes is one example of how money can’t buy happiness. Here was one of the wealthiest men in the world yet he was consumed with unhappiness. The more unhappy he became, the more he would disconnect with others and isolate. Even the people he needed the most were shoved aside. He could never maintain a loving and lasting relationship with the women in his life. His genetic need for love was not being met because his stronger need for power destroyed the relationships of those he needed for romance and, eventually, those he needed in business. He would consider his unhappiness the result of others and became a germaphobe, obsessive compulsive, agoraphobic, and he literally shut the world out of his life in dark, desolate isolation.
There are countless stories of individuals who had the world on a string, so to speak, but whose life was less than happy. Yet the string that maintains happiness is the string of love and belonging. All one need do is notice the difference between the songs that have been written over the years. The happy songs involve a meaningful relationship with another person. The sad and unhappy songs are those about losing a meaningful relationship with another person.