THE evidence overwhelmingly suggests that money above a certain modest sum, does not have the power to buy happiness and yet even very rich people continue to believe that it does: the happiness will come from the money they don't yet have...While spending money upon oneself does nothing for one's happiness, spending it on others increases happiness!
So goes an incredible evaluation of the power of money, generosity and greed that appeared, written by many experts and reprinted from The New Republic via The Week magazine for Dec. 31.
The Harvard Business School, the University of California at Berkeley professors Dacher Keltner and Paul Piff, the N.Y. State Psychiatric Institute, UCLA scientist Keely Muscatell, Harvard's prof. Mike Norton are all quoted in this surprising survey. The article is listed as one of "the great reads from 2014!"
•WELL, you couldn't prove this by my experiences at Christmas and the New Year. There I was, as a guest in one of the last bastions of powered privilege in the Western World and all around me, the rich, rich, rich seemed to be as happy as clams, having the time of their lives.
•THIS was on the exotic exclusive isle of Mustique, located near the equator just a short airplane ride from the British outpost of Barbados.
Mustique was, in the past, long the escape pad for wealthy and aristocratic Britons, including the late Princess Margaret, Noel Coward and the rock and roll Rolling Stones, among others. And it still supersedes the French and Italian Rivieras, Bali, Tahiti, Switzerland and the like as an exclusive escape route for VIP's.
• "Now the Russians have overwhelmed and ruined the Riviera and St. Barts, it's the only real place to go!" sniffed one of the well heeled to me.
And there, without two dimes to rub together, I spent my holidays having a swell time studying my betters.
• Mustique has it all because as a true get-away, it is still non pareil. Yet there is no "there" there! It is beautiful, with fabulous beaches, miles of untapped little mountains, trees, flowers and hills, acres of preserved untouchable stretches of jungle, no town of note, no tourists, no one allowed to land there that doesn't own property or have a permit, carefully policed, with an elegant native population, no one can sell or rent without permission, it is still rustic, gorgeous and unspoiled without a plethora of restaurants or places to go. And creative talent? It has people who have succeeded beyond their dreams
• I WAS in a charming house in one of the last dwellings ever built in the Caribbean by the great stage designer Oliver Messel. This house cradled into the side of a hilltop overlooking a beautiful harbor full of lit yachts twinkling away at night, was near what passes for a Mustique road, a kind of charmingly primitive route which benefits from jeeps, SUV's, and small cars. But "Messellia House" wasn't a patch on others better placed, like "Hummingbird," which was peopled by my friend Mary Wells Lawrence of 60's/70's advertising fame. She has helped keep Mustique special for years and was surrounded by her Swiss and U.S. grandchildren.
And then one had to be lucky enough to meet Suki and Jack Diamond. She is Mrs. Super Charm! He is the South African born genius architect who has designed everything from the new Putin-era Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersberg to a clutch of glorious buildings all over Canada to a recently constructed town hall of "culture" in, of all places, Lubbock, Texas. (Mr. Diamond was charmed that I knew of this west Texas outpost and he loved working there. I promised to send him the TV hit series on Lubbock's little town football "Friday Night Lights," which had escaped his notice!)
The Diamonds have a series of open-air dwellings all over a hill overlooking nothing but nature, beaches and the ocean. Out there is a lone rock which I'm told Robert DeNiro attempted to buy, wanting to build a private bridge to it from the mainland. Mustique said "no way!" So I didn't see DeNiro anywhere.
I did see lots of people gathered in Mustique under the large Baobab tree over the "Bamboo Church" on Christmas Day. We all sang carols. There are a few "country club" single buildings where everyone congregates on special occasions. At night, women appear in diaphanous silky whisps of outer garments decorated by exquisite jewelry and the men have all put aside ties and jackets for the younger shirttail "look" and no socks.
• ON New Year's Eve, we wore bracelets secured to wrists, admitting us to a Cotton House party called "Modstique." The theme was the rock' n' roll era of the rise of the English-inspired clothes, big Afro hairdos, a Beatles fashion look that by now, seems old-fashioned and quaint!
I found myself bopping to old favorites while nearby I glimpsed Mick Jagger dancing as only he can and I can tell you he indeed does " have the moves like Jagger!!" I watched the comic "Fawlty Towers" John Cleese amusing himself with his new 6' 4" blonde girlfriend who hadn't enough clothes on to cover a matchstick.
It was New Year's Eve for the books. The fireworks exploding overhead were first rate, worthy of any big city's finest. And as I exited from the pandemonium inside the tent, there were literally hundreds of "locals" - waiters, cooks, maids, butlers, the Mustique working people gathered with their children great and small in the parking lot, having a good time on the outside.
You can't keep New Year's Eve fireworks "exclusive," even if it makes you happy that you can afford it.
I wouldn't have missed this for the world. And I thought I'd experienced it all at Malcolm Forbes' 70th birthday in Morocco and at Elizabeth Taylor's 60th birthday in Disneyland and at Michael Jackson's "Neverland" Ranch during Miz Liz's wedding to Larry Fortensky.
•P.S. There is a fund raising Mustique Charitable Trust, which gets tons of money via art auctions, picnics, horse, tennis, volleyball, backgammon competitions, sunset jazz, and the like.
Thus, true Mustiquers make themselves happy!