Chris Croft's Personal Blog

September 17, 2011

Will Money make you happy?

Filed under: Careers, Happiness — chriscroft @ 5:42 pm

I think we all know the answer…

Forget all thoughts of trying to get more money or getting material things of any kind in order to be happier.  Time spent on this will just be wasted, and may just make you less happy.  For example:

  • Celebrities – often rich, often deeply unhappy
  • People who win the lottery are often less happy afterwards (although we all think we would be different in this situation)
  • A friend of mine who sold his company for four million pounds and then wondered what to do.  After a bit of lazing around and then world travelling he got bored – he ended up starting up another company!
  • Another friend of mine who is very well paid but never at home, and when he is at home he has to spend lots of time and money keeping his house, garden, tennis court and swimming pool all working
  •  Yourself – when you’d had pay rises in the past, has it made any difference, or did you forget about it quite quickly and then somehow spend the extra money without noticing?
If 10% of your happiness comes from material possessions and 90% comes from relationships with others (do you think this is true?  I do) then the logical conclusion is that money is likely to improve the 10% but is probably going to reduce the 90% – not a good exchange!
Will money really reduce the 90% of your happiness that comes from relationships?  Well this is frequently the case in those who win the lottery, who lose their friends when they become rich.  And certainly it seems to be a problem for celebrities.  But what about just a little more money?
Clearly the money might allow you to afford to do some sociable/fun things, but there are disadvantages as well:

  • Some relationships have nothing to do with money – wherever you are, whatever you can afford, the friendship is the same.  The money has no effect;  but…
  • the time and stress involved in earning the extra money takes its toll on your social life
  • higher paid jobs tend to be less secure
  • you get “addicted” to the money and have to keep earning it in order to keep up the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed; maybe wanting “just a bit more” and never quite being satisfied, however much you have
  • upkeep of your expensive lifestyle takes time and effort – a bigger garden, an extra car, more parts of your house to maintain and repair, it’s all more complicated
  • will the extra money change you in some way that will adversely affect your relationship?
  • jealousy or competitiveness – will the money change the way your friends see you in some way that will adversely affect your relationship?
Don’t assume that more money will fix it for you.  Ask yourself why you want the money – what will you spend it on?  Will this really make you happier?  Will there be a down-side to whatever you want to get with the money? (e.g. big house needing more maintenance).  How will it affect your relationships? What price will you need to pay in order to get the money, (e.g. longer working hours) and will it be worth paying?
Consider working shorter hours, saying no to travel or things you don’t believe in, even if this means a little less money now or in the future.
Make learning, and interesting work, and doing work that you believe in, a higher priority.
Maybe you won’t miss the money, and you’ll be happier too.
Onwards and upwards!

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