Last week, hundreds of you sent me stories of how you had fallen off your horse and had the courage to get up and ride again, often with even greater joy and sense of purpose. You all made me feel like a first-class weenie. You stole all the pluck and mettle lying around, and, by comparison, I looked like a whiner stuck in a pile of his own moldy mound of self-pity. So I made your heroic words my call to action and jumped back up on my own horse. Since then, my days have been spectacular. I will be forever grateful for your boost.

In some small way, I wish to show my thanks by doing more than just sending out three checks for three stories. I want to help us all use our dollars more wisely. (What a guy: offering prize money and then suggesting how to spend it!)

Let’s all make certain our money – whether it comes from someone else or from our own pocket – brings us the most happiness.

Here are two tips I found from researchers at Harvard and Stanford. First off, spend your extra cash on doing something, not buying something. For example, try going on a little mini-adventure rather than getting a new rug for the apartment. Over time, that rug will depreciate and wear out. But your adventurous trip will live on in your mind and actually glow brighter with the passage of time.

The second tip reveals we are happiest when we give our money away to others. It’s that whole “pay it forward” thing. Go figure.

Because I wish to take my time in reading each thoughtful response you sent to Mindful Midweek, it will be next week before the three awards of $500, $250 and $100 will be selected. The decision is difficult, since I see each of you as winners.

I’ll use the U.S. Postal Service to send out the checks, but now that I’ve saddled up again, reinstating the Pony Express did cross my mind.