Money Doesn't Buy Happiness, Right?

April 4, 2016, 11:20 a.m.
tags: life

Whenever I hear “money doesn’t buy happiness” I always take it as a given. Yeah, money will not make you fulfilled. People and your relationships with them are what’s really important. Yep, makes sense. But I don’t think any deeper than that… and I’m still striving to make a lot of money.

I read a post on Quora recently where individuals answer what it’s like to be rich at a young age. It gave me some pause and made me wonder: what exactly would I do differently if money wasn’t a constraint? And do I really need more money to be able to have my desired lifestyle? Here are a few quotes from the Quora post that stood out to me:

But when money is entirely out of the equation, what do you really want to do?


Surprisingly, the goals I identified were mostly goals that don't require much money.


This [privileged] mindset [that can result from being young and wealthy] is a curse, not only because it turns you into a total asshole, but because you end up wasting what should be seen as a total gift: independence to completely ignore financial gain as a motivating factor.

I decided to try to imagine I have unlimited money, and I made a list of things I would do. I focused on the do, because I don’t believe that the material things I would get (better apartment/house, more tech devices, etc) would really help me feel more fulfilled in life.

And fulfillment, or happiness, or whatever you want to call it, is really what I’m after. I believe that one of the best ways to do this is to live your passion. The problem for me though (and probably many others) is I don’t know what my passion is. I still get passionate about things, but they tend to shift and change. So one of my goals for a while now has been to make a lot of money and become financially secure, so I can then figure out what my passion is or try out different projects and change passions at whim if that’s what makes me happy. In other words, start knocking off items on my list. Question is, how much money will it take for me to do this? Perhaps I can start living my ideal lifestyle sooner than I think... or even now.

My conclusion after creating the list is that I can do pretty much all of the items with a decent-paying job. And if my job is something I enjoy or at least don’t mind (considering a full-time job would take 40-50% of my time), I should be able to feel fairly fulfilled. If my job is something I'm passionate about -- something on my list -- or I can decrease the time it takes, then I could be very fulfilled.

What more money would do is free up a lot more time. Without money as a constraint, almost all of my time will be spent working on things I want to work on. I don’t have to spend time saving up money or finding good deals, and I can pay to expedite tasks, build teams, hire expert advice, travel with more freedom, and so on. I can tackle multiple list items at once, finish them sooner, and move on to others or advance to higher levels. Of course, in order to become this wealthy, I have to spend a lot of time and effort to get there. This is what I am doing now, and I am sacrificing a lot of the things I could be doing that are on my list.

Some of my items really don’t require that much time nor money though and could even be integrated into my life right away. I can afford a music class every once in a while. I’m already working on my apps all the time. I can go to an extra concert or two. I can play more volleyball. I can make more effort in finding dates. I can dunk that basketball. I can help my family’s ventures. I can help and teach others. I can travel and continue working on apps from anywhere. I can put more care and fun into my everyday life and interactions with others.

Put all those together though it and does start to seem overwhelming… and it’s tempting to not do anything. It would probably be more impressive and more admirable to live a fulfilling life without having a lot of money, but -- and this may point to a weakness of mine -- I’d like to see if I can make things easier with money. For the next six months or so, I still plan on trying to make a lot of money. A secondary focus will be finding something I really enjoy doing that makes enough money to get by.

If not feeling fulfilled is my biggest problem, then I’ve got a pretty great life. The best thing is that I have the ability to fix this problem, either through my actions or attitude. Thinking through this helps to remind what’s really important. I'm going to keep this list in mind and see if I can't start on at least a couple of them.

Here’s my list. What’s yours?