When asked a direct question, we usually all seem to have the right answer – can money buy happiness?
Somehow there doesn’t seem to be consistency between how we answer the question and how we order our lives.
Traditionally, when Americans are asked what would improve their quality of life, their most common answer has been “more money.” (Jason Zweig in Your Money & Your Brain)
Here are some stats to back up that statement:
A survey of 800 people with a net worth of at least $500,000 found that 19% of them agreed with the statement, “Having enough money is a constant worry in my life.” But among those worth at least $10 million, 33% felt that way. Somehow, as wealth grows, worry grows even faster. (Jason Zweig in Your Money & Your Brain)
I personally think there is a starting point where money does create an environment where it’s easier to be happy. (No, money can’t make you happy).
7 Dumb Things We Believe About Money and Happiness
- More money in exchange for less free time and more stress is a fair trade. I was visiting two weeks ago with a lady in her 80’s (she actually died a few days ago), and I asked her what she would tell young people about life if she had the opportunity. She said that she wished she and her husband had enjoyed life a little more because they were always working. I thought it was a great reminder.
- Money can solve our money problems. Money never solves money problems. If you’ve got financial issues, it’s likely because there are things you love and pursue that you want more than anything. If your heart and head are in the wrong place, any time you get money it will always be spent on the true idol of your heart. If we fix the broken system we’ve been using, then money will help our situation. However, as long as you keep pouring money into a broken system, you’ll always end up with nothing.
- Happiness is guaranteed for those without money problems. Sometimes our expectations are too high for reality. We think that everything magically falls together when we get the last debt paid off, but it doesn’t always. Living debt-free is fantastic, but people who aren’t content before they solve their financial issues probably won’t be content afterwards either.
- If I can get as much as my neighbor, I’ll be as happy as my neighbor. Guess what? Your neighbor probably doesn’t have more money that you – just more debt. He’s probably not as happy as you think. Let your neighbor do whatever he wishes to do. Find a better standard and model for your financial life. Let the Joneses move as far ahead of you as they wish. Just be willing to offer a loving shoulder when they come crying to you.
- Wealth satisfies an appetite. Wrong. The more you get, the more you desire. Arthur Schopenhauer says that wealth is “like sea-water: the more you drink, the thirstier you become.” If you desire wealth as a solution to a problem in your life, the more you get, the more you’ll need. However, if you’re content in your present circumstances, then the more you get, the more you’ll be able to give away. The result is that you’ll be happier because you’ve blessed others.
- Money is a mirage that leads to more depression, stress, dissatisfaction, bitterness, and envy than we’ll probably ever truly recognize. The more you decide you need money, the more likely it is to be a mirage in your life. The less you ‘need’ money, the more it will seem like a genuine blessing to your life.
- The more of a priority you place on money, the happier you’ll be. When money doesn’t dictate all your decisions, you’ll be able to pursue other truly meaningful things in life.
Lord, help us to look away from money as a constant source of hope. Help us to look to you and be content with what we have.