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The Guide to Happiness

What Is the Best Thing Money Can't Buy?

If the economic downturn has clouded your countenance, then this column is for you. Real Simple readers, a resourceful bunch, have come up with dozens of examples of things that make them happy and don’t cost a dime. So ignore the gloomy forecast and get your bliss on. For free.

Black and white photograph of boy pretending to be a superhero in a black frameKana Okada

Money can’t buy the butterflies I still get when I lock eyes with my husband across a crowded room.
Leigh Irvine
Wakefield, Quebec
My six-year-old son, Noah, is a happy, beautiful little boy with special needs. The doctors said they didn’t know if he would ever talk. Just before his fifth birthday, he uttered his first word, and his language has grown and grown since then. Every time I hear “I love you, Mommy,” I know how lucky I am.
Nicole Harrison
Palm Harbor, Florida
The feeling you get when you make someone’s day a little brighter or easier. Doing something for somebody else doesn’t always require money―and often has more meaning when it doesn’t.
Mary Steffey
Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
The life lessons learned from reading the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’s Francie Nolan, and Little Women’s March sisters impart wisdom that crosses generations and still rings so true. If you haven’t read a classic in a while, pick up one of these books again. It will make you happy and remind you of what’s important (and right) in life.
Melyssa Saldino
Hightstown, New Jersey
A shoulder to cry on. Without the help of my close friends, I would be lost in a world of emotion, stress, and worry.
Hall Rockefeller
New York, New York
Time. Last May, my husband of 35 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given three to six months to live if he didn’t respond to treatment. Well, we loved, prayed, and laughed, and he responded incredibly well. Now, nearly 10 months later, we are still savoring every smile, every kiss, every breath. We know these moments will end sooner rather than later, but we are so grateful for the time that we do have.
Lorna Ibbitson
Mashpee, Massachusetts
A dirty little hand on my cheek. A toothless grin. A simple “Momma, I love you.” Money can’t buy these things.
Sylvia Harrington
Vista, California

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