Are we really happy without money, since it can’t buy happiness?
Generally not. Unless you are a bohemian or someone else living a roaming, unattached lifestyle, or a minimalist lifestyle, such as a monk, we all have a certain standard of living that needs to be met in order to avoid the stress of poverty.
I have been searching for an answer to this for a long time. After a lot of research that included active participation in debates, close observation of the lives of rich people, and reading articles and many kinds of classic and obscure literature, I have an unusual take on this question. Let’s discuss more.
The definition of happiness varies from person to person. There is no common definition for it. To some people, happiness lies in materialistic comforts, to others their bank balances, and so on.
We can at least all agree that happiness is the state of wellbeing that comes from a sense of satisfaction. Well, that is pretty broad in itself. Usually, people use the word happiness to mean something general and stable, as opposed to momentary bliss, and it sits beneath current circumstances of the moment, hence the word satisfaction. “Whatever happens, I’m satisfied.” That seems to be most people’s image of how a generally happy person thinks. Except for a few rare cases, happiness is self-centered. There are some very kind people out there who are happy if certain other people in their lives are happy, but this is rare.
One thing’s for sure: satisfaction does not come easy. Usually, people are not happy with what they have, be that their wealth, physical condition, job, etc. Part of this is natural, a desire for more because more = better.
But a good thing can come from a bad place, mentally. The desire for more can come from the legitimate need for more of something, in order to achieve a specific goal in life, or it can be due to shallow obsession with materialistic gains. Wanting to make more money so you can spend more time with your family will usually leave you happier with your current status, and your future status once you reach that goal, compared to someone who wanted more money just to brag about it.
For living a good life we need many things, money included. It’s undeniable that wealth gives you freedom from worrying about the basics of life, that is, food, clothing, shelter, support for loved ones, protection from emergencies, etc. It is justifiable to say that money determines a larger part of our happiness than most things. But human nature seems to lust for wealth and idolize it.
Since the dawn of commerce, rich people have been showing off how rich they are, which validates themselves and creates jealousy and a desire to succeed in others. To an extent, this is a good thing. If everybody who got something valuable hid it away, hardly anyone would ever get it. For example, if we didn’t see attractive, physically fit people in the media, many of us might not feel as much motivation to stay fit and attractive. Jealousy is not inherently wrong, it’s more about why you are jealous. Do you want what someone else has for the right reasons? Etc.
Of course, this is a broad topic. A lot can be said about this.
Instead, let’s take our discussion to another angle. You must have seen many people who are unhappy because they don’t have enough money, but such people are generally unhappy due to a legitimate discrepancy in their needs. They really do need more money, for a specific reason. A person who has plenty of money, but isn’t happy, has an internal problem. They have morphed their mindset to the point where rich is normal instead of comfortably wealthy being normal. So until they’re rich, they’re not happy. It’s a constant pursuit of higher rewards to the detriment of inner contentment.
By all means, you can try to make more money. There’s nothing wrong with the rich getting richer. It’s a free world out there, go nuts. But I think it’s a shame for a rich person to not reward themselves after working hard to make more money by at least enjoying life in the process and spreading that wealth in ways that leave others around them better off.
The fact is, once anyone has sufficient money, the greed to accumulate more wealth comes naturally. It must be challenged and evaluated regularly. The word ‘sufficient’ again differs from person to person. If I consider my case, I would prefer to attain financial freedom instead of just working as a machine throughout my life for money. Financial freedom for me is making more than enough money out of working 4 hours per week or less, with the ability to go on vacations while working 0 hours and know that everything is fine.
Accumulating wealth and money is not bad, but one should not ignore the little things in life that money can’t buy. And the big things, too, while we’re at it. After closely observing the lives of many rich people, particularly self-made rich people, I have concluded that being a millionaire means nothing if you don’t have good health, family, friends, time to live your life, etc. Health in particular is the baseline for me, it’s non-negotiable. I’d trade in my businesses if I could stay in top form physically and live an extremely long life.
I have discussed some more points about this in my article: The Homeless Millionaire: How Making Money Is Only Half the Battle. That post would complete this answer.
In conclusion, it’s time to change the wise old saying. Though money can’t buy happiness, it can buy us the things with which we can become happy for at least a moment. Whether that moment lasts is up to us. It’s true, no one is really happy without money, but, one shouldn’t overlook the things which give happiness in life that money can’t buy.
Please feel free to reply to me if you need clarification. Don’t forget to leave me feedback once you read that post.