Can you have both wealth and happiness?

Wealth and happiness can coexist!

Is there a proven, causal relationship between wealth and happiness?

The universal consensus is that the answer to that question is no and the knowledge itself has long been a source of happiness to those that associate negativity with wealth, money and success. Certainly we are far more affluent and have more stuff than our parents or grandparents ever had but does that make us happier?

Do we look back to simpler times where the pace of life was slower, more relaxed and we had the freedom to enjoy the moment? A time when sitting on a fold up chair outside on a hot night with friends made us feel like we had it all.

Perhaps, but does having wealth and success somehow preclude or diminish the availability and enjoyment of such pursuits? Where does happiness fit into this mosaic of life? Does money buy happiness? Conversely, as popular popular opinion would have us believe, does wealth preclude us from happiness, somehow blocking our cosmic path to spirit and fulfillment?

There are two problems with the idea that anything significant can be discovered by looking for a correlation between wealth and happiness. One concerns the nature of happiness, the other the nature of wealth.

If you could arrange for us all to return to 1980 levels of income and possessions, almost everybody would be unhappy. As wealth increases, so do expectations, and so does being accustomed to the lifestyle that the new level of wealth brings.

For most people it’s likely that wealth has to increase in order for their happiness level to remain constant; if their wealth were to decline, so would their happiness.

The important point here is that ‘happiness’ is too vague a concept to be truly helpful. Instead of talking about happiness, we should talk about satisfaction, achievement, interest, engagement, enjoyment, growth and the optimistic pursuit of new possibilities.

If mere happiness were the point, we could easily achieve it for everyone by suitably spiking the water supply. But it has often been said that the surest way to unhappiness is to seek happiness directly. Instead, happiness comes as a result of other activities that in themselves bring satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

If monetary wealth is the issue, that too is attainable. However the person who, despite having millions, restlessly desires more because of a feeling of emptiness, in particular when lacking the things money can’t buy: friendship, love, health, contentment and personal growth cannot be considered truly wealthy. These things are indispensable to the concept of happiness, if not directly related to creating it.

The best option in my opinion is to have both. Material wealth can enhance your life and support happiness. Following pursuits that make you happy can lead to wealth. The true equation between happiness and wealth is finding the balance that works for you and understanding that one is not the cost of the other. They happily coexist in the same space and this can be a very nice place to be.


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