Today we are going to talk about something that has influenced human behavior since the beginning of time. Something that is craved, desired, sought-after, something that people would do nearly anything to attain: happiness.
We see it on TV, in advertisements, on filtered smiles while scrolling through social feeds, a portrayal of happiness, a manicured version fit for mass consumption. But what can make a person truly, unequivocally happy? Is it money, power, resources, or a combination of these things? It has been said that the only people who know what money cannot buy are those who have it. But how can finances play a role in our happiness?
Today we are going to explore these questions and more to discover if money can really make us happy. Let’s dive in.
Start with yourself
Money won’t change your core traits. If you are looking for outward approval and admiration to fulfill your needs, you are looking in the wrong place. Take some time for introspection and look inward to begin defining who you are and who you want to be.
Get a clear picture of your goals, values, and priorities. These are the elements that will determine the trajectory of your life, including your financial strategy. Building a financial plan without understanding what you care about and what you want for your life will seem artificial and disconnected from the real you. It could make mostly an expensive waste of time.
During each phase of your financial life from the beginning of your career through retirement, your goals should be the driving force of your financial plan. They help set the course for your life, influencing how much you spend now, how much you save for the future, and your vision of what you are working toward. Your goals move you forward and money is a tool you can use to reach them.
Happiness is ephemeral. It doesn’t last. Using an external force like money to define this fleeting emotion is seldom productive and could cause much more harm than good. While it is important to be flexible in your financial needs as they change, consistency is key to financial success and stability, which is why you can’t just use money as an antidote each time you need an emotional boost. Better to deal with adversity directly.
Too often we forget that money is just a piece of who we are. It doesn’t define us or make us into the people we are (or want to be). Rather, it helps us achieve our goals and make an impact in the world. By taking the weight out of money and placing it upon ourselves, we are better able to separate our happiness from monetary success or failure. The old adage that “some people are happy with nothing” has two meanings.
Use money as a tool
Money can help us expand the way we see the world and does have some impact on our levels of happiness. Studies have shown that money can impact happiness levels but only until reaching a certain threshold, which is $60,000-$80,000. Diminishing returns then set in and the correlation steadily decreases. Your mindset and coping skills then become the leading players in your level of happiness.
When we stop thinking about money as the end all be all, we can start to think about it for what it truly is: a tool. Money is a vehicle we can use to help us reach our goals. It is there to help us provide food, shelter, and comforts to our families. It can help us travel, give to things that we believe in, explore new places, and try different experiences. But it isn’t the thing that causes joy in your life.
Your experiences and relationships are what make you happy and money is just one tool of many that you use to help you along the way. Take for instance your job. Some people will enter a career they hate simply for the financial benefit. But this decision can lead to a lack of energy and enthusiasm for the work you do which can also impact your relationships with others as well as yourself. Whereas pursuing a field you are passionate about may not make you as much money. But if it provides enough to support you at a reasonable though not luxurious level, you may find it revitalizes your energy levels and creates a more positive work and personal environment that provides fulfillment the disliked job could never do.
Reach outside your bubble
Joy comes from our relationship with the Creator and with others. It can be as simple as a smile to a stranger, a thank you to a coworker, or taking the time to really listen to your spouse.
You can use your wealth as a method for reaching outside of yourself and helping others through charitable efforts or helping a family member or loved one. Here again, we see money acting not as a beacon for happiness but a resource to help aid in our daily lives and responsibilities.
Money can play a role in how you feel. But if you use money as a way to express your most noble goals and desires, you will find that the outcome of all of these interactions may lead to the ultimate satisfaction of a life well spent.
Are your finances structured around your goals? Schedule a time to chat with us so we can help you get on the right track today.