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Buying Money...With Happiness


 

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success."


-Buddha

 

Adam is on the court playing tennis in his back yard. He really enjoys tennis and was able to build a house to fit his needs after building a successful business over 25 years. Later in the day, he plans to take a dip in his pool to cool off from the summer heat. He's been able to use the money that he's made to design a life for himself that fits with who he is. There's more to his life than material things; he sets his own schedule, he has more autonomy than most of us, and he doesn't have to work if he doesn't want to.


Adam is also very happy. He's one of the happiest people you'll come across. Nothing bad seems to get to him. He never (almost never) talks negatively about others. He enjoys life. He has a positive outlook. He wants the best for everyone he meets.


On the surface, we might think that Adam is happy because he is "rich." There is an alternative viewpoint I want you to consider, though. What if he became rich because he's a happy person?


happiness leads to money

Myth: Money Buys Happiness


After your basic needs are met, more money doesn't buy happiness. Yet, the perception by many of us is that if we just get a little bit more money we'll be happy. Once we get a little more, we tell ourselves, we can finally relax because we'll have enough at last.


The trouble is that as soon as we get to the level we were aiming for, we set our sights on a new prize - we always want what we don't have.


money does not buy happiness

It's Easy to Believe


It's no secret that we believe money provides happiness. You probably know people who have more than you (whatever that means) and seem to be happier than you. The fact that these people exist means that our brains go to work trying to find a pattern. If two things are related, like happiness and money, then surely one must cause the other. If you see the world through a scarcity mindset, then it's easy to make the jump to money causing happiness.


there are happy people with money

Blinders


Since we know there are happy people with money and our brains come up with a pattern, we easily forget there are happy people who have less money than we do. It's also no secret that there are many people with money who aren't happy.


there are unhappy people with money and happy people without money

Directional Arrow is Wrong


Another mistake we make is within the overlapping section itself. We know there are people with money who are unhappy, and we know there are happy people who have no money. That means the overlapping section could simply be random and unrelated.


Alternatively, we could flip the direction of the correlation arrow. What if happiness makes it easier to find money?