I met a friend at the tennis court the other day, and just before we start playing Camillo asked me:
– Michael, you look very happy, what’s going on? Are you making a lot of money?
I thought about it for a while. I do make a lot of money which certainly doesn’t make me unhappy. But does this make me happy?
We started conversing about the topic and following his words I acted:
– I think this would make a great blog post!
I guess we’ve all heard of the debate “Money doesn’t buy Happiness”. Some people think that if you have a lot of money you must be happy. Others think that having infinite money is impossible and since having a lot of money inflates your needs you always ask for more. Which makes you unhappy because you cannot have everything.
What do I think? Ok, let’s settle it once and for all:
Money DOES buy happiness but sustainable happiness does not come from having a lot of money.
Mindfuck? I know.
What I’m trying to say is that money by itself will not bring happiness. Having wealth is like having many options that will potentially make you happy.
“Oh yeah Foxy Monkey, I wish I had X amount of money and I’d show you how happy I’d be on my private jet (ski).”
Except, NO, you wouldn’t.
In the short term, buying a jet ski would make me the happiest person in the world. But after a while, I would get used to it and I’d receive less value from owning it. This is what happened with my new £2,500 laptop.
Whether you want it or not human beings are social creatures that derive happiness out of 3 simple things.
1. Social circle and family
Money can’t buy friends but if you have friends and money then I think life is more enjoyable.
I’m sure you have seen wealthy people being lonely or depressed. Feeling that someone actually gives a damn about you makes us feels good.
Interacting with friends, cooking a dinner for the family and getting social are all activities that have a guaranteed return on time invested 🙂 I’m much happier when travelling and meeting people I like and care about.
Sometimes I ask myself, what would I do with much more money? Speaking of social interactions perhaps I would host dinners much more frequently and get on the plane to meet friends I miss. Money can buy happiness in this case and I know what I want!
Money can buy happiness but if you’re sick and not able to use it then what’s the point? I know that staying healthy is entirely in my control and I’m therefore making an effort to stay healthy.
Given today’s hectic working conditions, people sit for 12 hours a day. Sitting is the new smoking. If you find yourself in this situation DO SOMETHING before it’s too late. Exercise frequently, take breaks and walk between work, get a standing desk and start a hobby.
I may not hit the gym as some of my friends do but try to exercise here and there. When I see electric stairs I always make an effort to climb them up. I play tennis or football twice a week. Lift a few weights at home when I can.
One thing is for sure. You cannot outsource health.
You can have all the money in the world but cannot buy the escape out of an illness.
Health does not bring happiness but it’s the most solid foundation for it. Without health, you cannot even think of achieving anything that will make you happy. In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that’s the BASE.
“Tell me something I don’t know, Michael”. This is so basic but we often take health for granted. Other times we prefer convenience over staying fit. Why take the bike when I can take the bus? Why take the stairs when the lift will get me there faster?
Should I cook or order some junk food instead? In fact, nutrition is very important. The top 3 premature death causes are the heart attack, stroke and cancer.
Not surprisingly, all 3 of them can be avoided by eating properly. That’s reducing meat intake, eat more natural food, avoid junk etc, according to the How Not to Die incredible book.
Money can certainly help with nutrition. Here in the UK, buying quality food usually costs much more. A quick comparison at the Tesco shelves tells me that buying at the top end (organic, finest quality) costs almost double compared to the “essential” range.
When I say buying quality food I mean buying organic products, getting your vegetables and meat from independent farms etc. It’s easier to downgrade quality for quantity as well as price. Therefore money can definitely help here! Not only quality products taste better, but they save you from eating antibiotic-fed chicken and Epsilon substances.
Unfortunately, we have become too lazy and too blind to see the benefits. Health insurance won’t help us, WE will.
I guarantee that staying healthy will not make you unhappy, regardless of whether you’re 1 million in debt or in 1 million in credit 🙂
3. Self-improvement, self-respect
Self-respect means that despite how many $$ you have in the bank, you feel you are important. You want to feel you achieve something and be proud of yourself.
If you think about it, some days you get that out of your job, right? It’s the sense of achievement that gives you a satisfaction to say: I ROCK!
Can money buy this? I believe it can.
Money allows me to start a business that otherwise I would not.
Money buys me free time to read books, watch courses and generally improve. Watching myself grow gives me the feeling of satisfaction. Take this blog for example. Having enough money to have a job-free weekend and some more to cover the blog expenses allowed this to happen.
Looking back at the 30 or so articles I feel I have something to show for myself. In that case, money indirectly buys happiness.
The same is when you help other people and watching them grow thanks to you. For example, helping my family start a new self-employment gig thanks to spare money I made gave me such a great feeling. Other people engage in charity activities for similar reasons.
So, can money buy happiness?
Another angle you can look at it is this. Instead of pursuing happiness, try to remove tasks that make you unhappy. In other words, what are some annoying everyday tasks?
For me, that would be cleaning the house, ironing and filing business expenses for accounting purposes. Money could definitely buy a cleaning service to help with the chores and a personal assistant to handle the tedious tasks I want to avoid doing.
Then I can focus on things I know I like, like writing more blog posts like this one and replying to more personal finance e-mails that arrive regularly in my inbox.
Removing some boring tasks with the help of money can buy you time. What you do with this time is up to you. Make sure you spend it constructively because full-time leisure is not the path to happiness.
All the above don’t mean I don’t want to be wealthy; of course, I do! But I’m trying to focus on putting the money to good use in order to get maximum happiness out of it.
I believe the best way to do that is to focus on achieving financial freedom through passive income. This will buy me even more options on what to do with my time. Take care 🙂