Money can’t buy happiness.

You hear that a lot growing up. And then, as you get older, you often learn it the hard way. Sometimes by getting a high paying job and being miserable. Other times, because you’re happy as you can be making a below average salary.

When people talk about minimum wage increases, economic policy, and the middle-to-lower class workforce, they often end up describing the poorer people they’re trying to help as miserable, uneducated, and unfulfilled.

But I think people lose site of what it’s really all about. Sure, in many ways, life is easier with money. But is it better?

Getting to spend some time with my Mom recently, I was reminded of how attitude is everything. My Mom grew up very poor, to the point where her siblings were often split up among the families in her city. If you looked at her resume, you would think she was uneducated, and if you knew where she grew up, you’d say unsophisticated.

But even through all the hard times, she has always been upbeat and optimistic. People who meet her always walk away better for it, and she has the ability to light up any room she’s in. She’s also persistent as hell, and she’s determined not to let age, or anything else, stand in her way.

Though she may be a bit behind the times, technologically speaking, she still understands the fundamentals of being a good person, having good manners, and making the best of what life throws at you.

Sometimes more affluent people look down at poor people as not just unfortunate, but somehow beneath them.

An important lesson for some, and an important reminder for others: poor people smile, too. And often, they look back at lives lived well in ways many wealthy people will never understand, because they judge their lives by work ethic, loyalty, strength, truth, courtesy, thoughtfulness, and just trying to do the right thing as often as possible.