Is the Pursuit of Money Really Going to Make You Happy?

Most people seem to believe that having access to lots of money will solve all their problems and miraculously make them happy. Do you believe that?

A recent Australian Government survey commissioned by Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) examined a range of answers that people gave to a series of financial questions. The survey concluded that people on higher incomes were very reluctant to call themselves prosperous. Those in the top seven percent of incomes – having a net worth of more than $3 million – described their financial position as “poor” or “just getting along.” Does that surprise you?

The research concluded that pre-occupation with money and material possessions left people feeling deprived. The report stated that “when people focus on money as their measure of success in life, they’re never going to be satisfied.”

This tends to agree with the notion that those who are happiest are the ones who receive large amounts of money as a consequence of devoting themselves to something that they love doing. In other words, money is NOT the focus, rather it is the BY-PRODUCT. This makes sense when you really think about it. Allow me to give you an example to demonstrate why.

Let’s say “John” works in a highly lucrative position that he doesn’t like. He gets paid extremely well for what he does but loathes doing what he has to do to make that money. An example might be that John is a divorce attorney. He gets paid well but is constantly dealing with angry people. “Mary,” on the other hand, starts working in an area that has been her passion. Maybe Mary might open a fashion boutique. She loves being at work because she is fulfilled. Her enthusiasm attracts others who willingly pay for her goods and services. Mary becomes wealthy doing something that she loves. Can you see the difference?

The HILDA study quantified that there was a slight positive link between money and happiness. It used a formula to calculate that on a 0 to 10 scale of happiness that there would be a rise of 0.8 if an extra $100,000 was earned. An eight percent increase is not a lot more happiness for such an amount. It would seem to equate to the reduction in stress felt by being able to meet bills when they fall due.

The study also concluded that “money is a commodity, not an emotional item” and “money only buys things, not feelings, therefore the pleasure of spending it is transient.”

The key to wealth and happiness is to love your work. When you feel emotionally satisfied every area of your life will improve. Like “Mary” above, find that one occupation that will fulfill you. The money will follow as a consequence. It always does.

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