Monday, 13 February 2012

Money can't buy Happiness

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And in the words of ABBA
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In a rich man's world

Money, money, money
Always sunny
In a rich man's world

Aaaaaah ah ah ah ah
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

We were having a conversation today with some of the older members of the family and they were saying how much better life could be if they had more money. I was shocked that they felt this way, surely after their many years they'd realise that money always needs more money and no one ever thinks they have enough. Of course, me being me, I said so and a debate ensued about money and happiness and life.

I don't believe that money makes you happy, if that was the case then poor communities around the world would suffer much greater numbers of depression. And if money made you happy then you wouldn't see so many rich people suffering from depression and addiction; Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse being two examples from this year alone.

Don't get me wrong, I think there's a level of poverty below which lack of money causes unhappiness and suffering; but most people in this country are not in that position. Most people are measuring "enough money" against a very materialistic culture.

We are in a lucky position, we can afford our monthly outgoings and have some savings for the occassional holiday; we are comfortable. We know what it's like to have more; we now live on half the income we had 6 years ago. We also know what it's like to have less, my engagement ring is testament to that. We have scrimped and saved and we've splurged willy nilly and now we are just careful. And guess what, my happiness is greater now than ever before.

I have stopped searching for that magical "enough" money. I've realised that stuff isn't really important. I have no desire for more money, I can't see how it would be cheer making in a bank or in stuff I could buy.

I don't think money buys happiness; I think money often buys dissatisfaction at not having quite enough. There is no nirvana at which point people celebrate being rich enough. It's a mind set and I'm happy being as we are and able to charitably give to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

1 comment:

John Holcroft said...

Of course, research has been done on this. And they found that absence of money, in terms of real poverty, causes a lot of stress. But once you no longer worry about putting food on the table and clothing the kids then it doesn't make any difference to your happiness. In fact more money can make things less fun. As if you can afford something you tend to justify it as a 'need', but if you can't you label it as a 'want'. People are happier when 'wants' are satisfied, compared to their 'needs'. So you are happier getting a new iPhone if you have to save up for it, compared to buying it straight away because you have convinced yourself you 'need' it.

I would suggest that money buys you freedom, if you choose to use it. As a bit of financial freedom allows you to make interesting choices such as retraining as a doctor or starting your own business. The trick is to avoid letting money be your own handcuffs, by letting yourself get trapped in a feeling that you need to earn a certain level.