The purpose of this article is to clearly define money and happiness in the way that most successful people understand them. I will demonstrate how they are the same and how they are different. But beware, you may have never thought about money and happiness in this way before.
Studies consistently show that low income levels are correlated to high stress levels, but does more money really make you happier?
Too much stress can be a killer. The long-term health effects of stress not handled properly are devastating.
The cool part is that it is true: getting out of that low-income zone makes life less stressful, and improves your life and general sense of well-being.
However, after a certain point of attained affluence, after your basic needs are met and you’re not freaking out every day about where you food and shelter are going to come from tomorrow, studies do show that more money does not necessarily make you more happy.
Personally, I love money. I don’t believe the bullshit that the love of money is the root of all evil. I’m not sure what the root of all evil is, but I’m convinced that money itself is not it. Here’s why:
Money is the result of one person doing something nice for someone else. Money is the certificate saying that John raked Joe’s yard, and it represents the energy that was put in to the work.
Money is energy, once removed. It represents energy. It represents influence and value. John can now trade this certificate of energy with his other neighbor Sally, who makes the tastiest apple pies you’ve ever put in your mouth. John would rather have the apple pie, and Sally would rather have the money, because she wants to trade these certificates (saying she’s done something nice for someone else) for a new red party dress.
More money creates more abundance. When John rakes Joe’s yard, not only does it free up Joe to spend time doing something nice for someone else, something that Joe himself is really good at, but his yard looks nicer, he’s happier, and John is happier, too, because he spent his time in his craft being creative, productive and exercising his mental abilities. Essentially, people are trading their expertise of the expertise of others.
Everybody is doing things they like to do, providing value for everyone else, and abundance is flourishing. People who provide value to others are rewarded for their efforts, people who do not provide value to others are not rewarded. Virtue is rewarded, vice is not. This is what money does when it is traded freely and not corrupted through the use of force. It is awesome.
I’ve never worked for a poor man before. My employers and/or business owners I’ve contracted with have always had plenty of money from the value that they created for others. Because of their situation of having plenty of money, they were willing and able to bring me in to create even more value for their customers, which, of course, results in more money.
The value that you create for others is generally going to be proportionate to the money that you get in return.
Happiness is a lot like money. It’s the result of actions and effort. High levels of happiness, just like high amounts of money, are rarely an accident. Deep fulfillment is usually the result of much effort, mental and physical.
If you just sit around all day or lie on the sofa all day, your body will rot and you will be unhappy. You must get up and move around. For sustained, long-term health, you must exert yourself physically often and consistently. You must balance your nutrition and avoid products that harm you like chemicals, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, etc.
If you aren’t providing value to the people around you, not only will you be broke, but soon you will have no friends (read: lower happiness). People generally flock towards value and flee from neediness. Maybe someone will see your need and try to fill it, however, they will be expecting value in return for that. People want a return on their investment, and if they know they can get a better return somewhere else, they will go there.
There are many forms of value. Maybe you are broke, but you are hilarious and fun and relaxing to hang out with. You will probably still have friends because they enjoy (read: get value from) hearing your jokes and rejuvenating themselves around your calming energy.
Happiness or peace or fulfillment or whatever you want to call that good feeling inside is what happens when you do things that fuel you. Happiness is success. Your version of what makes you successful is different from my version. I like to write blog posts, for example, maybe you like to watch football. And, of course, there are many other things we could name that make us happy.
Again, value can come in many forms.
The point of this first article in this series is incredibly important to understand: Money and Happiness are similar because they are both RESULTS. They are not gained directly, but are secondary products of specific actions. They are both values which are generally measurable in proportion to the value those actions provide.
The biggest difference between money and happiness is this:
Money is an exchangeable value and is NOT an end unto itself. Money REPRESENTS value. Happiness is not exchangeable, and it IS an end unto itself. Happiness is itself valuable.