Regardless of your lot in life, build something beautiful on it (Zig Ziglar). Our society has reinforced the faulty idea that money is the solution to anything and everything. People really belief that if they don’t have plenty of money then they are unable to have a beautiful life. This is simply not true. There are people in poverty who are happier and have more beauty in their life than the wealthiest among us. Money is a means to an end and is not an end in itself. I think back on some of the most content days in my life and they were days when the month was longer than the budget provided for. I had better fulfillment in the homes where I had to make do with very little. The best gifts I ever received were from one of my aunts whose standard of living plummeted following a bitter and unexpected divorce. This aunt used her creativity and materials on hand to make some of the most lovely and meaningful things. She went from a 3800 square foot home on many wooded acres to an ancient single-wide trailer in a cow pasture. Her trailer was more beautiful inside than the large luscious home she shared with an untrustworthy spouse. I remember thinking her trailer interior could graciously fill the pages of a home decor magazine. She had little money yet she created a beautiful space for herself and my cousin to heal. My work as a social worker brings me in contact with people who are poor and many who are homeless. I am constantly humbled by the peace and life satisfaction many of these individuals possess that some of my wealthy clients in my days of private practice only dreamed of. I’ve met women who survived homelessness with a grace and serenity the most well-to-do (including myself) might never achieve. It’s really not money that makes life better–it’s gratitude. Grateful people use money when it’s available but do not worship it. We each can take whatever we have, the life we have and build beauty, meaning, and purpose. A lasting legacy is not material. We are more kind to our children when we teach them values and build up their character rather than giving them toys and gadgets that only lead to the desire for more and more–a bottomless pit of want that can never be filled. Those who learn to be content with what they have and to be thankful for every little thing are really the most happy. These are the ones who create beauty in the middle of a cow pasture and give gifts from the heart not the wallet.