So, it’s not the money per se but how you spend it that determines your happiness. Then again, things at the other end of the spectrum aren’t any better.
Would you be happy if you worked two jobs, yet still didn’t make enough for a decent meal? Do you really want to stay poor? So where is the middle ground?
Money only buys materialistic things
Consider how you spend your money. Most people dream of possessing luxury cars, a mansion, vacations in Europe, luxury cruises, designer clothes and jewellery.
However, these things have a short lifespan in terms of delivering happiness.
Research by Harvard University shows that luxury items, no matter how much you want them in the short term, eventually lose their attractiveness in the long run.
Materialistic things don’t bring lasting joy
You might be happy driving your new Porsche for a few months, but the exhilaration will fizzle out after a while.
Rather than dumping a tonne of cash on a Rolex, why not indulge in small and inexpensive things and experiences? In this way, you can have more frequent splurges of pleasure.
For example, enjoy a slice of pie at your local café while catching up with friends. Buy yourself a good book or get pampered at a local spa.
Small splurges that dispel fatigue and reinvigorate you are much better in the long run. In contrast, that new iPhone will feel like just any other smartphone in a week or two.
Frequent hits of small, inexpensive indulgences are therefore better than extravagant luxuries.
The worst part about keeping up with the Joneses is that it can become addictive and eventually leave you knee-deep in debt, or bankrupt. (Rawpixel pic)
Expensive things can lead to ‘slavery’
If you keep indulging in luxurious items to satisfy your cravings, you will eventually end up poor, if not bankrupt.
It’s become too easy fishing out the credit card to pay for glamorous items, even those you can’t afford. However, this can leave you knee-deep in debt in no time.
The worst part about this kind of behaviour is that it can be addictive. There is always going to be something more expensive that you wish you had, even though you have enough.
Keeping up with the Joneses can be deadly. In order to show-off who’s got the bigger, deeper wallet, the deadly cycle of ‘slavery’ to your own indulgences will go on.
This will also leave you unhappy as you would have forced yourself into buying something you didn’t love to begin with. So, buy what you love, and forget what others have.
Freedom is the gateway to happiness
The proper thing to buy with money is freedom. Freedom is the ability to have a choice in life.
If there is freedom to pursue dreams and good relationships, to change the world, and to spend time with family, that in itself, is true happiness.
How many times have you thought ‘that’s impossible’ because you couldn’t afford it? Wouldn’t you rather have the freedom to pursue a career you wanted instead of a job you had to do in order to put food on the table?
So, if you’re lucky enough to have money, use it wisely. Enjoy your freedom of choice as that’s the true definition of happiness.
Spend time with friends over a leisurely dinner or get that two-hour spa treatment you’ve been longing for. (Rawpixel pic)
Know what you’re buying
Money can buy you happiness if you know what you’re buying. A study by Cornell University finds that buying experiences instead of materialistic things gives you true happiness.
In addition to buying the freedom to do as you wish, you can also gain gratification from buying ‘life’s simple pleasures’ – time.
People never seem to have enough time and are always chasing after it. However, you can easily get time on your hands if, for instance, you earn enough to be able to delegate your tasks to others.
By buying time, you can work on building relationships with others and you can spend it with friends or family.
If you are always drowning in work and self-indulgences that rob you of basic human interactions, you’ll never be happy.
More importantly, buy health. All the time and money in the world cannot make you happy if you suffer from disease or other ailments.
Eat healthy food, exercise regularly and go for annual health screenings. Oftentimes, families cannot afford regular health screenings, which is why diseases like cancer progress to an advanced stage before it gets diagnosed.
If a remediable disease can be caught early, you can avoid spending tonnes of money later seeking treatment.
In the end, what’s the point of life if you don’t have the freedom to control it? Use money to obtain time, so you have more freedom to do the things you love rather than just be a money-making machine.