Opinion

A Time to Reflect on Health, Wealth and Happiness

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Posted: Dec 17, 2020 12:01 AM
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A Time to Reflect on Health, Wealth and Happiness

Source: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

It is often said that health is wealth, and at no time in our lives has this proven more true than during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting political, economic and social upheaval.

This has been a year unlike any other. At this point, nearly a year into the pandemic, each of us probably knows someone who has contracted COVID-19. We have learned a lot about the preciousness of life. While most have managed to defeat this insidious virus, going through days of unpleasantness but ultimately emerging a survivor, others have not been so fortunate. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of Americans -- and many more across the globe -- have succumbed to this awful virus.

It is painfully clear that the virus does not discriminate. It cares not about the ethnicity of its victims, their religious practices or their political affiliations. Rich and poor alike find themselves vulnerable.

So, in the face of COVID-19, we are all the same -- and this means that each of us rolls the dice, unsure whether contracting the virus will mean an unpleasant illness or paying the ultimate price. In these trying times, lessons abound.

The pandemic has been a time of reflection. Many people are finding that being restricted to our homes has had a material difference not only on our health but also on our wealth.

Consider for a moment the sums of money that conscientious Americans may have been able to save during the last nine months. No longer are many spending large chunks of their income commuting to work or shuttling their children to activities. There's no longer a daily need to purchase subway or train tickets, pay highway or bridge tolls or put fuel and pricey maintenance into automobiles that are being driven less.

What about clothing? With so many of us working from home, we no longer have to pay for dry cleaning to keep our shirts and suits pressed. Why spend money on a new tie or a new blouse when you can work from home in casual clothes?

The consumer culture, notorious among Americans, has taken a hit as a result of the pandemic. Acquiring objects and spending money on material things makes little sense and, perhaps more importantly, is a serious obstacle to amassing wealth.

Consider the tremendous savings we stand to retain now that we no longer are spending money on things that we once would have sworn were essential. I'm talking about live sporting events, concerts, plays and other forms of entertainment -- nightclubs, expensive restaurants, dinner parties, alcohol and fancy excursions.

The lifestyle to which so many Americans had grown accustomed and to which many had dedicated so much of their energy and money has been altered. Staring us in the face is a rational choice: Continue spending money on those material goods and activities or start saving the money for things that are more likely to pay off in the long run. Those who preserve their hard-earned capital should see a spike in their savings.

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That is not to say that there isn't tremendous value in spending money on entertainment. After all, I appreciate the drama and exhilaration of a spirited sporting event. There's little that compares with the excitement of a crowded arena or stadium as you cheer for your team with your fellow fans.

However, COVID-19 has served as a much-needed reset. Today, we are making significant changes to our lives and reevaluating what is of the utmost importance. Many have used this time to rediscover the wonders of nature, the joy of exercise and the opportunity to speak with friends and family about issues that matter as opposed to filling our conversations with the surface-level banalities that had defined so many of our days.

My prayer for all Americans in this holiday season is that we continue to stay healthy in the coming months. May we emerge from this strange era stronger mentally and content in the knowledge that we have clarified what brings each of us the most happiness in our lives. Above all, I hope that we will continue to take care of ourselves and one another.