Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Money and happiness

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it is that makes me happy, what is worth working for, what life it is that I'm looking for. Yesterday, I wrote about how much I enjoy quiet, and how a media fast and a good book can make me feel at peace.

The more I think about, the more I realize that it's not abour the money.

There are some things I want that money certainly can buy me. I want to travel, I want to take a cruise, I want a house, I want to be able to afford to work part time. But then there are the things that I want that money can't buy, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how much those are the things that I want, the things that will make me really happy.

In You Don't Have to Be Rich: Comfort, Happiness, and Financial Security on Your Own Terms, which I just finished reading last week, Jean Chatzky writes about how after a certain point, money doesn't actually make people happier. People are most likely to be happy when their lives are organized, their relationships are strong, and their careers are in line with their values; money can help or hurt, but usually doesn't have as big an impact as one would think. It is, instead, the misconception that our happiness is tied to money that leads to most of our unhappiness. In her words:

"So what do we do? We go after the money. We chase it like there's no tomorrow. And as we do that, we lose time that we could spend having a leisurely dinner or taking a long walk with the love of our life; we lose time we could spend hitting the StairMaster or making a sandwich rather than driving through a fast-food joint for a grease-fest; we lose time we could spend taking classes that might lead us to a career we'd truly enjoy."

And the more I think about my own life, the more I realize that the things I'm giving up while I'm chasing the money are really things that are more important to me. Chatzky suggests that the things most likely to correlate with happiness are things which don't cost any money at all: dancing and volunteering. So what do I want, what makes me happy?

I want to exercise several times a week. I love the calm and release that comes after a long walk or a short run, and I love the feeling of getting stronger.

I want to spend more time with my husband and really enjoy his company more, to fully focus on him.

I want to spend more time with my friends, to be able to have a cup of tea with a girl friend in the middle of the afternoon and have a nice long chat.

I want to lay in the sun with a good book more often.

I want more quiet in my life.

And yeah, dancing and volunteering sound pretty darn good.

And so I pose this question, dear reader. What do you want that money can't (necessarily) buy? I'm most interested in what it is that pfbloggers think, but even if you're not one, please join the conversation. Leave a comment below, or write a post on your own blog and I'll link to you. What brings you happiness? What do you want?

See Tehnyit's list here


Leah S said...

I already have what I want. I've tried the work environment and didn't thrive. I've tried the college world and didn't thrive. Now I'm a stay-at-home-wife and absolutely happy where I am. Wouldn't change a thing. :)

Sure, we're knocking down debt slower because I don't work, but the contentment is far more worth it. I have an abundant amount of time, and I'm loving it. I can spend a long time in the kitchen and still have dinner done in a timely manner, because I could start whenever I needed to start.

I am less sick because I don't stress over a workforce. I don't get a daily headache worrying over a problem at work anymore. I don't neglect myself in order to have energy for work anymore.

I have the time to jump up at my husband's beck and call. I love being able to give him my full attention in all things, from personal intimacy to the little errands that crop up here and there. My free time enables my husband to have more free time too. He never feels bad asking me to do things, I feel blessed to have the time to do them.

I love my life. The take-home income is quite below $30,000 and we're doing absolutely great. :)

What Works For Us said...

Beautiful post!

tehnyit said...

Great post, I just did a follow up on my blog to your question.


P.H. Andreoli said...

Money buy lots of things and makes us happy in those moments we are enjoying the things that money can buy. Happiness is much more than money. This is personal realization, good relationships, family environment, celebration of simple moments. If I would choose in a 0-10 scale for both, I would prefer 5 to each one.

Unfortunately this is not what I have.......