Happiness in the Age of Victoria



Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

 Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Charles Dickens was a fierce critic of poverty and the social stratification endemic within Victorian society.  Even today, we still encounter the idea of keeping up with a wealthy lifestyle.  There is a subtle promise that happiness comes from buying the “niceties” of life.

John Stuart Mill, a philosopher, advocate for human rights and a contemporary of Charles Dickens once said, “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”  Perhaps frugality is the mechanism that helps us to live within our means and gently reminds us that happiness cannot be purchased.  Happiness is already free.