Does Money Bring Happiness?
If not, what are all the rappers going on about?
If so, should we structure our lives around the accumulation of money?
Should our primary focus be how to maximise our cashflow? Will happiness come in direct proportion to the amount of zeros in our bank account?
So, does money bring happiness? Well, our society definitely equates “success” with money. If you look at the way celebrities, sports stars and big shot businessmen are portrayed in the media, it's fairly bloody obvious that the implicit message is people with cash are bigger and better than the regular folk, and are to be aspired to.
This message that money brings happiness is constantly anchored into our consciousness via films, adverts, TV shows and music.
If you grew up listening to hippity hop (like me), and you was asked does money bring happiness, you'd probably answer an unequivocal “yes”. Here's a couple of my favourite examples, stuck in my head in a perpetual loop since my early teens:
“Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M get the money, dollar dollar bill y'all....” - Wu Tang
“More money, more cash, more chillin'” - Jay Z
And here's one which is even more direct, from good old Fiddy Cent - “Yeah yeah, get more money, more money...Yeah yeah yeah, get more money, more money...” Frankly, it's hard to argue with that kind of conciseness. Does money bring happiness? According to 50, yep!
In fact, the only rapper I can think of you disagreed was Biggie. We all know what he warned as the result of mo' money... And look what happened to him. No one listens to the big man no more... Goddamit. I'm still listening Biggie – I got yo' back dawg.
Anyway, before I go off on a hip hop inspired tangent, I think it's safe to say that for 15-30 year olds in particular, the answer we are likely to give to the question “does money bring happiness” is a big, fat yes. We have been socially conditioned to aspire to accumulating big bucks. We're sold the dream that rich people have it better than the rest. We're off to chase the paper, and in many instances it's not even a conscious decision.
But... does it hold up to scrutiny? Er... Actually, no.
Does Money Bring Happiness for Me?
I'm gonna speak from first hand experience very briefly. Much like you (I imagine), I grew up thinking that money was the answer to the BIG question. I remember asking my old man "does money bring happiness?" When he said no, I thought he was bullsh*tting me.
I naturally assumed that chasing a fat amount of cash was the most sensible way to approach life, and that with money, cars, clothes, holidays (etc etc), I would be a big smily happy chappy in no time at all.
So... what changed my mind? Well, money actually.
Quick bio – I left law school and decided to go for a career in business-to-business sales (quicker return of cash, less hours, slightly less corporate slavery). Being a rather charming sod at times, I did well, and quickly began to accumulate an ever-growing income.
$5000 per month quickly became 6,7,8... In 2008, I was probably averaging around $10,000 per month. The later months in 2009 I was clearing up to $30000 per month, and by that point I was only working 3 days (and spending the rest of my time starting this site).
This is not an astronomical amount by millionaires' standards, of course, but more than enough pocket money for a 24 year old to get all the toys – big screen TVs, iphones, Playstations etc – all the trips – Vegas, NY, Ibiza – and all the goddamn weed I could get my hands on. Looking back, I can see where most of it went ;-)
Christ, I've got a $1000 satchel and a $200 keyring. Who would've thought they wouldn't make me happy?!
So, does money bring happiness for me? Far f*cking from it, actually.
The more money I earned, the more unhappy I became. This really puzzled me, so I started to become introverted, constantly questioning my existence and “the point of it all”. This actually sent me a bit doo-lalley for a while – for if money is the answer, why on earth was I becoming more miserable by the day?
The answer surprised me. I realised that even though I didn't hate my job, I certainly didn't love it. I don't think I even liked it, to be frank, but it paid incredibly well, and I was good at it...but I finally figured that if I'm gonna be spending the majority of my waking hours doing something, it may as well be something I liked... better yet, loved.
So... I quit. At 25, I turned away from $30,000 per month to focus instead on being happy. Right in the middle of a motherfriggin' recession. Oops.
So, if the answer to “does money bring happiness?” is No...
1) Freedom beats money hands down. Around a year ago I read The Four Hour Work Week for the first time. This book totally flipped my view of the world on its head – it was a proper Neo / Red Pill / Matrix moment.
Basically, the author Tim Ferris explains that most people don't need more cash – instead they need the freedom to live life how they want – and this lifestyle costs a LOT LESS than most people imagine.
For example, I want to live on (or near) a beach, and have enough cash to eat well, sleep well, and travel well. I can do this on $20-30,000 per year. Working in the rat race in London, I need more like $100,000 to live to a similar standard. This is non-sensical!
As such, focus on what TRULY makes you happy (i.e. family, friends, relaxing, hobbies) and work out how much it would cost you to do this 24/7. I bet it's less than you think!
Then, put a plan in place to make this a reality. The hardest thing about taking this step is breaking down the social conditioning - because “how on earth can you make money without having a job?"
Well, for a start, this website does just that! Do you have a passion you could make a website about? And this is just one idea, of course...
2) Follow your bliss. I just came across this philosophy from a dude called Joseph Campbell (I was exposed to him in the awesome
Philosophers Notes Programme
) Whilst the idea of "following your bliss" admittedly sounds a little over-the-top and lovey-dovey, it bloody rings true for me.
The basic idea is that whatever makes you feel blissful and happy, whatever makes you laugh and makes you smile on the inside – well, this is what you are supposed to do with your life. Does money bring happiness and make you feel blissful? Nope.
For me, writing propaganda and inspiring people to quit the rat race is my bliss at the moment, so I'm doing that. Selling sponsorship packages to multinational companies makes me cringe, so I'm avoiding that like a Swine Flu sufferers convention.
So, what's your bliss? How can you start to incorporate more of it into your life? How can you start to make money from your bliss?
Start with a dollar, and build from there. If you can make a buck, you can make 10, and when you make 10 you can learn to make a 100... then 1000... then 10,000.... ad nauseum.
If you don't know what makes you happy yet... experiment! Catch yourself smiling and laughing as often as possible, and take note of what caused it. That's bloody simple enough, ain't it?!
Look, I'll be frank – do you think if you carry on with your current path you'll ever be truly happy? Does money bring happiness for you? Even if your job is ridiculously well paid (investment banker, etc), is this fulfilling you? If it is, awesome - you're on the right path. If not, escape now... ESCAPE NOW!!
Do you wake up with a massive smile on your face? Do you wake up at a time you choose?
Would you rather have money than happiness? If I asked you "does money bring happiness?", what would you honestly say?
Sod that. Start to plot your escape. Get out as quick as you can, while you still have the balls to do so!
I promise that the path that now seems big and scary and impossible is actually much more inviting that you could possibly imagine – but you do have to take a risk and dip your toe into the unknown.
Take a deep breath, and face the fear of the unknown. It's fun! That's what life is all about.
Does money bring happiness? No.
And, to finish, remember what Biggie said - “The more money we come across, the more problems we see”... And he dead now, so you know it's good ;-)
PS - A great way to start on your new path is to take a look at the brilliant book How to be Rich and Happy.
Despite the title, this is NOT a money-making book, but instead is an end-to-end process for understanding what you want in life, becoming happy and “rich” in the sense that your life is exactly as you want it to be, and empowering you to believe in yourself enough to get it.
It's co-authored by a friggin' awesome dude called
(the link takes you to his brilliant blog) who I've done a bit of coaching with. The dude is a down-to-earth genius. I love him. He know that the answer to "does money bring happiness" is NO, and he shows people how to live life on their terms. He a straight up gangsta (oops - still listening to hip hop).
This is a non-affiliate link too, so be assured that it's a 150% kosher recommendation. This book will help you find your bliss, escape the rat race, and get happy asap. It's not cheap, but it's not expensive. It's up to you if you want to invest in your happy future. I did, and now I work for myself, on my terms, and whilst I earn less cash, I've never been happier. Boom!
In closing, to reiterate for all the doubters out there who want to ignore their gut feelings and proceed on the money-making path regardless -
DOES MONEY BRING HAPPINESS?
Follow your passion. That will bring happiness. Money ain't the answer.
PPS - Wisdom might bring you a step closer... check out the amazing
Go from Does Money Bring Happiness to Personal Development Planet Blog
As a concluding point, I'm not anti-money - far from it - I like the freedom that money brings. It's good to have cash, for sure!
What I'm arguing against is the illusion that you will suddenly feel amazing when you have more cash. I'm sorry, my friend, but it just don't work like that. You got to be happy first, because even when you have cash you'll feel the same (if not worse!)
Last time - does money bring happiness? Nope! Good luck!