The age-old question: How much money do you need to be happy? Okay, okay, maybe it isn’t quite an age-old question, but it is one that I’ve heard over and over again in my twenty-something years of life. And then there’s that other saying Money doesn’t buy happiness. So which is it? I’ve read about studies that measure the happiest income bracket. And apparently (or so says this Forbes article), everyone’s ultimate happiness can be found somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000. I don’t believe that for a second.
Sure, money dictates our happiness to a certain degree since it means we can or can’t have the necessities for life: food, water, shelter. And then maybe a little more money helps give us the comforts of home: indoor plumbing, electricity, TV, an endless supply of Starburst jelly beans (what?). But after that, I think happiness is all about attitude.
I mean, how many unhappy rich people have you known? Or as Daniel Tosh put it, “Have you ever seen a sad person on a waverunner?” I’ve known quite a few unhappy rich folks. I’ve also known some very happy rich people. It seems happiness and sadness can be found across the spectrum of income brackets.
And yet, despite knowing this, we’re all always seeking that elusive higher income. “If we just have this much, then we can finally do this.” Or, “If we just have this much, life will be so much easier.” (aka, happier). Johnny and I have been guilty of it. Yesirree. Every time we seek out a new job, at least 50% of the consideration is the salary. Because, you know, it’s the salary that will make us happiest, not what we’re actually doing for 40 hours a week each and every week. KWIM? First and last time I use that acronym, btw.
Don’t get me wrong. Making money IS important. I was reminded of that fact when Johnny’s income temporarily disappeared in May. It hit me like a ton of bricks: Wow, money’s kind of a big deal. Hmph.
But does it make us happier? Or is it our state of mind telling us it does?
Johnny and I justify seeking after more money by saying it will help us with our future. If we make X amount and are thus able to save Y amount, then we will have Z amount 30 years from now. And that will mean being able to retire, travel, visit grandchildren, become that orange, leathery looking older woman at the beach (you know the one I’m talking about).
But then there’s YOLO. For those of you who don’t follow the trends of juvenile young adults and high schoolers (like me, apparently), that stands for “You only live once.” Are Johnny and I giving up all kinds of happiness during the best years of our life with the daily grind, all in the name of being responsible and making more money so we can save a few bucks? I’d like to think not.
I think having something to work toward does make us happy. And it helps us appreciate the moments when we do finally get to sit back, watch a sunset, knit a blanket, or whatever it is carefree people do. But the key is finding happiness in the journey instead of thinking that happiness will only come once we’ve reached a certain income point.
And one more thing. I think money starts to make people unhappy when they rely on it for their happiness — or what they deem as such. In other words, finding happiness in things — the coolest car in the neighborhood, the most expensive home, clothing, stroller (you think I’m kidding, but I’m not), etc. Things will never make us happy.
So let’s recap.
- Money is necessary for happiness to a degree.
- Trying to make more money is fine and dandy, as long as it’s not what’s dictating your happiness.
- Things no equal happiness.
Johnny and I are happy. But we’ll always be working toward more money because it’s who we are. But we’re happy with the money we have and don’t have right now in this moment. Because life isn’t all about money. Life is about being happy. KWIM?