The Truth About Money and Happiness

The two extremes of wealth neighboring each other. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

You know, we all say “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” don’t we. Even this guy, Spike Milligan, said, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.” So that’s what people say.

But do we believe it? Do we really think that money doesn’t buy happiness? If that’s the case, why on earth do we crave money? And once we have money, why do we keep wanting even more? Why, if we’re rich, we give away less money than if we were poor? We just keep saying that money doesn’t buy us happiness, because rich people tell us that, and it has become the social norm to accept that statement as a fact.

But seriously. You would love to have one 500,000 dollars. or two million. Or five billion. Or ten trillion. Because once you have a lot of money, you also get a lot of power. In fact, as your wealth increases, so does your power as well as your responsibility. But since most of us are still children captured in bodies of adults, we value power hundred times higher than responsibility. “Psh, responsibiliwhat? Who cares? I have money, I can do whatever the hell I want.”

Anyway, back to what I was talking about earlier. The truth is, money does make us happy. There’s less stress when you have money and you know you can pay the gas bill at the end of the month. There’s also more freedom; you can take your wife out for a fantastic dinner, go to movies, travel around the country, buy a new car, and even invest a little bit to keep your wealth growing.

But then I look back at the times I had spent in Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda, the Philippines, and India. There’s sadness in the poor people’s eyes, but there’s also an immense joy and gratefulness. They don’t crave money like us westerners, mainly because they haven’t ever seen a shiny car or shoes that cover your entire feet. For them, having a roof over their head, some food to eat, and a blanket to sleep with is all they need. They don’t want anything. They’re need-driven, not want-driven, unlike us.

So, my point is this: For us in the western world, we crave money because we secretly believe that it does, in fact, buy us happiness, no matter what other people say about it. We don’t tell people our view on money, because it’s almost isn’t politically incorrect to say something like that. Well, I’m saying it right here. I don’t necessarily feel bad about the the people in regions of poverty. They’re used to that. I’ve lived in regions of poverty for a while, too. I’ve seen that stuff. But I do feel bad for people who live in poverty, and rich people live right next door, like in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Now that, my friends, breaks my heart.

I hope that, as your wealth increases, so does your generosity and your desire to help others in need. For so many wealthy people, generosity decreases until it is entirely absent. Don’t do that, alright? Thanks.


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