Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Money Can't Buy Happiness...But Here's What It Can Buy

How many times have we heard the phrase "money can't buy happiness." It's a platitude that has been embedded into societies across history. As overused as I believe the phrase is, I do believe that there is a grain of truth in it. There's no doubt that money is useful, but as we've seen time and time again, vast amounts of money actually just bring headaches. I believe one of the primary reasons that ultra wealthy celebrities endure divorces as often as they do is because they don't really know who genuinely likes them versus who likes them because of their fame and fortune (ulterior or hidden motives). As Jason over at MrFreeAt33 said in a recent article (and has proven for years now), beyond the basics in life like food, housing, electricity, etc., money really doesn't buy happiness.

What Does Money Not Buy?

Before we delve into what money does buy, I just wanted to briefly discuss what it doesn't buy so we aren't under any illusions. Money isn't some sort of possession that can fix the underlying issues that we may have, such as addiction or insecurities. In other words, it doesn't fix our faults. Those will remain regardless of your net worth until you first admit you have a problem, and seriously work to mend that problem. Moreover, and most importantly, money doesn't buy love. Think of those in your life that are closest and dearest to you. Would they do anything for you because they love you? Yes, of course they would. What separates love from every other emotion is that true love is unconditional. It doesn't matter what your net worth is or what you have to offer in return; true love gives and asks for nothing in return. Conversely, if you have to give somebody money or items of value to do things for you, this doesn't equate to love. It is merely a business transaction.

If Money Doesn't Buy Happiness, What Does It Buy?

When you have enough money working for you (generating passive income in excess of expenses), it is said that you are financially independent. This means that you have the autonomy or the freedom to pursue whatever in life fulfills you, which interestingly enough often brings happiness and meaning to your life.

But How Could This Be? It Seems Paradoxical.

You're probably wondering how we've just said that money can't buy happiness, yet at the same time we've said that it actually indirectly can. I don't actually intend to communicate that money alone is the key to happiness, but I'm trying to convey that once your basic expenses are met, it's that freedom and autonomy that are you afforded that allows you to live the life that you want rather than "job" for a living. Instead, you can "work" on whatever you find delivers value to others without the expectation of making money from it (although eventually you probably will), and as a result, you often find a sense of worth and fulfillment in these pursuits. True happiness originates from a sense of purpose and a feeling of meaning that you attach to your life. 

This is a particularly complex subject, and every person is somewhat different in regards to what makes them happy. With that being said, I believe that most can find happiness in improving themselves, in turn unlocking their full potential, and using that potential to help others learn how they can improve their lives. Quite simply, when you feel content with yourself, you are more pleasant to be around. When you are more pleasant to be around, you indirectly improve the lives of others, and serve as a template for others pursuing happiness because basically everyone wants to be happy. As a result of others seeking happiness, they may ask how you are almost always content with your life. Although no two people want the exact same things out of life, you could be the catalyst that drives others to actually examine in detail what they want out of their life. When you are financially independent, you don't have to be your inauthentic self anymore. That alone should bring you some measure of joy. You don't have to report to a boss or deal with difficult coworkers anymore. You're free to be whoever you'd like to be, or what I like to call your authentic self!


Extraordinary amounts of money to the point that you can't really hide your wealth are actually detrimental, and in these cases, money basically buys "misery." Practicing stealth wealth is ideal and to your benefit if you are able to pull it off (which you should be able to do unless you are on the Forbes list of billionaires). It is difficult to distinguish between hidden motives and those that actually like you for who you are when you are obscenely wealthy, which often leads to trust issues (and further relationship issues). The perfect amount of money is an amount that is enough to allow you to pursue your passions, while also being discrete about your wealth to not attract unnecessary attention. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what brings you happiness and joy. But just know that money isn't necessarily good or evil, it's just a tool to allow you to pursue what brings you fulfillment when you have enough of it to meet your basic needs. This is the precise reason that I blog about unlocking financial independence through dividend growth investing. 


What are your thoughts? Do you believe money can indirectly buy happiness by allowing us to pursue our passions and fill our lives with meaning and purpose?

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