Money. The concept made up by mankind that rules the world.
I’m managing a few Instagram pages for a while now. They’re centred around this concept. That is, centred around business, motivation and investing.
Whenever I engage with my audience or ask them what’s on their mind it’s always money and investing. To be precise, ways to make more money and the lack of knowledge on how to invest it.
There is but, some grey area if it comes to determining how much money you should make. This article is not going to help you with that. Because it’s a more delicate topic to fit into a short writing. At the end of this article, I will list a few links to help you dig deeper.
Today I want to discuss the topic of money vs happiness. Or in other words. Does money make you happy?
Does money make you happy?
I know poor people and I know rich people. Very rich people to be precise. The people who own 7 cars and 30+ houses. The people who can’t fart without a newspaper picking it up. And the contrary, the people who are living in countries troubled by war. People who can’t pay their bills and can barely afford food.
And then there are the people in the middle. People like me, who have no money problems. The people that can’t retire yet but don’t have to shop for bargains either.
I want to throw in 2 thoughts. Both support the statement that money does make happy.
- If money makes you happy all rich people are happy.
- If money makes you happy all poor people should be unhappy.
I could rest my case here. Since we know that both statements are false.
There is some more to happiness tho that could be argued. Like health. You can have all the money in the world. If you’re not healthy it’s not gonna make your life any better.
But even if we disregard this. And assume that the people in both statements are healthy. Then it’s still false. Because we all know healthy rich people who are unhappy, and we all know healthy poor people that are happy.
I even know of unhealthy people who are happy. Think of terminally ill people who are living life to the fullest. The confrontation with their illness enabled instant ability to enjoy the little things.
This corresponds with the Buddhist concept that desire is the root of all suffering.
It’s described very well in the Almanack of Naval Ravikant as: every desire is a chosen unhappiness.
My free translation of this concept is that money does not make us unhappy perse, but our desires do. It’s the things we think we need for happiness, and for which we need money, that are at the base of unhappiness.
It’s the trap of society. Of fitting in, belonging. And the means we think are needed to do so. A fancy car, a good job with stature, a nice house, branded clothes.
It’s when we crave these things unhappiness prospers.
How much money do you need to be happy?
Having no money in today’s society makes life pretty hard. That’s a fact. But it still doesn’t make unhappy perse.
I was unhappy while working at my former job, but it had nothing to do with money. I ran out of it every single month because I spend a lot on stupid shit. But my main cause of unhappiness wasn’t the lack of money.
I became happier when I quit and learned to live with little means. I believe that this is exactly what the title of this chapter means. I let go of any desires. I want a roof over my head, food and water and some clothes. I don’t need to earn a lot to reach that goal. Pretty much any job can provide for this.
All the happy people I meet have a similar mindset. They learned how to control their desires. They still have them, and they still feel insecure or envious at times.
I’m not pleading for a life of non-stop meditation. It’s normal to have desires. To want things outside of our body. It’s but a game of balancing them out.
Don’t confuse happiness with the release of endorphins when you buy something. That experience is temporary.
Money makes life easier.
In life, we all need some basics to live. And we need money to get them. But after we reach that point, there is a limit. More money does not equal more happiness. More money buys more goods, it makes life more comfortable.
As of today, I don’t have to travel public, I can rent a car or order a taxi without having to worry about how to pay for it. It’s bringing me more comfort. But it’s not making me happier. I don’t have to worry about rising costs of energy and I can buy a coffee whenever I want. But I’m not happier than before.
If you think about this, then it’s basically a matter of financial management. Try to understand the concept of money. It’s just a tool to buy stuff. It’s the stuff you desire that influences your happiness.
Now if you go back to the initial need. You are looking for ways to make more money. How much more do you need? And for what? Is it to cover your basic needs or is it to buy desires? If it’s the latter then don’t expect it to bring you more happiness.
I know a millionaire who keeps buying shit. Cars, more houses, more jewellery, more toys. He is healthy and unhappy as hell. He could stop today and he, his kids and grandkids could live a happy and very wealthy life. All without ever having to work again. Still, he engages in nerf-breaking new challenges every single day.
His kids are unhappy because they can’t find meaning. They start businesses funded by dad. When they fail they just start new ventures.
Dad thinks he is helping by paying for their journey towards happiness. But he fails to see that they experience the failures even harder.
It’s not about failing, it’s not the failure that knocks us down for good. It’s the lesson left unlearned from that failure.
Learn to enjoy what you do have, not what you think is missing. It’s only when you learn this you find happiness.
The following articles help you dive deeper.
My philosophies on investing and managing your finances.
Happiness can be learned. And this article is where you start.
A 5-step framework to design the life that you want.