No matter how many times I watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and hear those words uttered by the character of Harry Bailey, I can't help but tear up. And, somehow, I don't think that this just keeps happening to me. I reckon that the message shared through those words is one that resonates with most people.
The older I get, the more this movie seems to hit home. So often it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and lose sight of our lives' true meaning that we forget how blessed our lives are by what we do for others and by what they do for/with us. And our lives are (or, at least they should be) measured by what we give, not what we get/have.
This reminds me of a book I just started reading yesterday - it's called Rediscovering Catholicism (by Matthew Kelly), and so far I have found it to emphasize a couple key points along the same lines of what I just discussed above: 1) the idea of living an authentic life in which we are called to live our faith by our actions more than just our words; and 2) our human desire for happiness and truth can never be filled until we find these things in God (and that's a constant striving, moment by moment).
George Bailey did both of these things - he ran his business in such a way that he treated customers as people and, more importantly, as he would treat his friends, even if that meant operating at a loss. He fought tooth and nail to prevent Potter from making a monopoly of the banking of Bedford Falls, and he ultimately took the blame of losing the $8,000 that should have rightly fallen on Uncle Billy. In addition, over the course of his time with his guardian angel Clarence, George Bailey found that he already had the people and things in his life that could help him find true happiness. He realized that even if he were to go to jail, his life was worth living because of the people whose lives he had blessed and because of those (especially Mary and his kids) who had blessed his life.
And, in the end, George is rewarded with more generosity than he could have ever imagined, and that is when Harry Bailey states what every other person in that room was thinking. (And then Clarence reiterates this point a few moments later in the note he wrote in the book: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.")
What a great lesson we can take from George Bailey - riches are not found in accumulated wealth but rather in our choices of how we share our time, talent, and treasure and in the people we choose to spend our time with. These "things" are what can bring us closer to God and our desire for true happiness.