We’ve all heard the expression: “Money doesn’t buy you happiness.” There are different variations such as, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” There are a lot of obvious statements we can make about life. There is nothing profound about this.
Money doesn’t buy you happiness if you aren’t a happy person. It also can’t automatically buy you health, although it can help at times.
One key point is that little or no money can buy you misery. I know there are stories of poverty-stricken people who live a simple life in a third-world country who are seemingly happy. But some of these people may just have a good attitude given their situation in life. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like a big meal, a soft bed, and a nice air conditioner.
We do get accustomed to the lifestyle we live. It doesn’t mean we will find happiness by downgrading our lifestyle, but we should occasionally pause and give thanks to what we have. This goes back to the joke of a guy in an airplane who is complaining that his Internet is running slowly on his laptop computer as he flies thousands of feet above the ground.
I have found that many on the political left, who do not necessarily view capitalism kindly, are quick to spend their money. They don’t know how to handle it. There are certainly many exceptions, and there are certainly many people who say they favor free markets who are more than willing to spend money and go into debt.
There is this crazy narrative that there are these rich greedy people who just want to roll around in money and spend frivolously. Of course, there are such people. But I find that the biggest spenders are the rich celebrities who seem to feel guilt over having money. While they are quick to say that money doesn’t buy happiness, they are also quick to spend a lot. It is as if they will be seen as greedy if they hold onto their money.
While Americans certainly like their consumer goods in the form of gadgets and luxury items, we shouldn’t underestimate the number of people who want to accumulate wealth just to buy some freedom.
If you ask most people what they would do if they won $5 million, I don’t think the majority of people would start listing the stuff they would buy. I think the majority of people would say they would quit their job first.
This isn’t an issue of wanting more stuff. They want freedom. They want to buy time, whether it is in the form of leisure time, or in the form of time to do more fulfilling work. They probably want to spend more time with friends and family. Also, it shouldn’t be neglected that many people suffer from stress and anxiety over money, which is quickly alleviated with a significant amount of money.
Buying more stuff will not make you happy. Maybe getting your kitchen remodeled will make you marginally more happy, but it is nothing compared to alleviating stress and having more freedom with your time.
It really is amazing how much stuff Americans accumulate. There are many people who use storage units for the long term, and not just something temporary when moving. The storage business is a big industry in America.
When I was younger, I thought it was better to buy something than to take a vacation because once the vacation was over, it was over. If you bought something, you still had it after a week. I have changed my view of this completely has I’ve gotten older. If you are going to spend money, I think it is often better to buy experiences (and memories) rather than accumulating more stuff, unless it is stuff that you will use on an almost daily basis.
Stuff that you don’t use on a regular basis tends to accumulate. It clutters your house, and it clutters your life. If you are going to accumulate anything, it is better to accumulate digits in a bank account.
You can roll around in your money if you want to, but it is only because it is a feeling of joy that you get from being free. If you want to quit your job, then you can do so.
For me, wealth is not defined by having a big mansion and a nice car to drive. Maybe these things are nice, but not if you are working all of the time in a job that you don’t really like. Having wealth means having the ability to make greater choices, including the choice of having more leisure time, or time to spend on your calling.
Money won’t buy you happiness if you are always trying to accumulate more stuff. Money can help you be happier if it represents more freedom to you.