In Ecuador, I had a friend who had seen great heights of wealth, and alarming lows of poverty.
He had won the lottery 3 times, but his wealth had never come from that. (The money he made from winning the lottery, like most lottery winners, he spent right away.)
At one time, he had owned the most prestigious restaurant in Ecuador. When I met him, he had a comfortable life, still able to enjoy life’s little pleasures, but with no extravagances.
What My Friend Had to Say About Money
This is what my friend had to say about money:
“Money cannot buy happiness, but unhappiness without money is insufferable.
If you are rich, and the love of your life abandons you, you go to your large property in the country and get your pure bred horse out.
As you ride through the country, you feel the force of nature. You feel the wind on your hair, the sun on your face.
The sun, the wind, they heal you. Little by little you get yourself OK with life again.
BUT if you are poor and the love of your life leaves you, all you can do is go crouch in a corner of your little bedroom and cry, eating some porridge, if you can afford it.”
We were at a restaurant when he said this, having lunch with several friends. We were doubled over with laughter — he was a very good storyteller — but some people felt uncomfortable, even as they laughed. Someone said, “you shouldn’t say such things.”
The person who said this didn’t want to acknowledge that money could buy any part of happiness. What is the truth?
Can Money Be Part of Happiness?
It may surprise you to hear this, but studies made on money and happiness have found that income does have a significant role in people’s happiness… up to a certain point.
Poverty is a huge contributor to unhappiness for most people. As people make more money, and they are able to meet their basic needs easily, their happiness gradually improves, and it is, actually, proportional to the increase in money.
However, this only happens until the person reaches an income that is sufficient for their needs, plus a little disposable income. After that, people only see small increases of happiness when huge increases in income are seen.
For example, there is a huge difference in the level of happiness for a family of four living on 25K per year, and a family of four making 50K per year. However, there is not much difference in the level of happiness between a family of four making 100K per year, and 150K per year.
What Part of Happiness Can Money Buy?
When our children first heard the saying “money can’t buy happiness,” they were very skeptical of this. They had experienced saving money from their allowance to buy a very special toy. When they were finally able to buy it and play with it, they experienced a lot of happiness from it.
Some happiness can be bought by money, hard as it may be for people who are very spiritual to admit this.
If you have the money to pay for a great vacation, you and your family have the opportunity of experiencing a lot of happiness during that trip.
If you have the money to buy a beautiful house, this is also likely to contribute to your happiness.
If you have a computer, a tablet, a smart phone — gadgets can add to your happiness.
However, if you have the money to go on a great vacation, but no one to go with you, you may not find it as enjoyable.
If you have a large house, but no one to share it with, you may not be as happy.
If you have cool devices, but no strong connections with other people with whom to communicate, they will only bring you dissatisfaction.
After your basic needs are met, long lasting happiness depends on how deep and fulfilling your relationships are, much more than on money.
- Be grateful that you have the money to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with your family, but be more thankful that you have a family.
- Be grateful that you had the money to travel to another town for Thanksgiving, but be more grateful that someone who loves you is waiting for you there.
- Be grateful that you have the money to pay for internet access, a computer, tablet or phone, but be more grateful for the the connections your gadgets help you strengthen.
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