It is a common belief among many that if they just had more money, they would be happier. While there are certainly some benefits to being financial secure, having a lot of money is not always all it is cracked up to be. In fact, terms like “rich” or “wealthy” or the concept of having a “lot of money” are somewhat ethereal. In other words, what it means to one person to have a “lot” of money might be something totally different from someone else. In fact, when determining how much is a “lot” of money, it often comes down to more of a statement of what kind of life a person wants to lead more than a dollar amount. It could be argued, however, that if what they are really looking for is a specific kind of lifestyle and not a certain amount of money, that lifestyle might be obtainable without the money they think it requires. Here are 3 reasons why money is not actually the key to happiness – and what really is.
1. Money can complicate relationships to the degree that many wealthy people are actually lonely
Regardless of your income level, an imbalance of financial means can have a profound impact on your relationships. The more money you have, the fewer people you will find at your own income level. For instance, there are currently only 574 billionaires in the entire US and only 1,810 in the entire world. Billionaires have access to a number of luxuries and privileges that even millionaires do not have. Imagine you are a single billionaire that wanted to date. How could you ever be sure that someone was genuinely interested in you and not your money? This question is one which frequently plagues not just billionaires but almost every person of means. We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, but how will you ever know if someone would feel the same way about you if you were poor? Many wealthy people don’t and this can make for a very lonely life.
2. No matter how much money you have or don’t have, it can all vanish in an instant
When people have very little money, they often spend a lot of time worrying about it. The same is true of people who have a lot of money. Part of the frustration of having little to no money is the awareness of how tenuous and fragile your existence is. Many people are just one small catastrophe away from being out on the streets or unable to support themselves. No matter how much money you have, this will always be true. Billionaires have lost fortunes overnight and the same thing can happen to anyone at any time. Learning to be content no matter your circumstances will take you far further than waiting for a fat bank account to bring you peace.
3. Money can take away your drive to accomplish and do great things
When faced with the idea of never having to work again, many people are delighted at the thought. Human beings, however, tend to have an innate need to have a reason for living – a purpose if you will. While having to fight and scrape and struggle financially is never fun or easy, having more than enough money to live comfortably for as long as you want might not be all it is cracked up to be either. If you are not happy with your life right now, a legitimate question could be raised as to whether more money would actually make it better. While it might be nice to be able to do what you love or are passionate about without having to constantly worry about money, having more money than you legitimately need to live off of can be as much (if not more) of a curse than having just enough.
The reality is, if you are not happy right now, there are probably things you can do to improve your life that have little to nothing to do with an increase in income or fortune. If you hate your job, you probably don’t find it fulfilling. Finding another job or line of work that is more fulfilling is probably going to go far further towards increasing your happiness than getting a raise or winning the lottery. If you are unhappy in your relationships, making changes in those areas will probably also do far more to increase your level of happiness than getting more money. In fact, since money can actually make your relationships worse, it is possible that if poor relationships are the cause of your misery, an increase in wealth might only make things worse. If you want more money so you can travel – find a way to travel now. Whatever it is that you think having more money will afford you, there is probably a way to have it right now, without any change in income at all.