Rich people have it, poor people don’t. Everybody wants it. Money. Depending on who you believe it makes the world go round, is the root of all evil or doesn’t grow on trees. The popular thinking is that more money will equal more happiness in life. How true is this though? It’s an important question to ask as the statistics say the average adult will spend 30% of their life working in the pursuit of money.
There’s a number of ways to approach the question and I’ve chosen to look at it purely from a point of view of an increase in income. As such we can consider all the points contained here applicable to different levels of financial wealth.
First and foremost let’s look at Parkinson’s law. Simply put it states that for the majority of people expenses will rise to meet income. That is to say, if a person earned $500 and received an increment to $800, they would still spend all $800. And in observation this is true. While there’s an argument that you can do more with it, it’s hard to reap the benefit if it doesn’t stick around for. In my language, we have a saying that translates to “money is a guest”. It comes but never stays.
More money more problems
We’ve all heard of this one. Right? More money does simply equal more problems. In the course of working in many different nations, I’ve witnessed the disappointment on people’s faces as they realized that they are taxed a larger percentage when they earn more income. So that’s one example right there of more money meaning more problems. It doesn’t stop there though, more money certainly means greater responsibility. The more you have access to the more decisions you must make. And those decisions bring more decisions with them. A really good example of this is the ability to purchase a house versus renting the same house. The tenant worries about rental and utilities. The homeowner worries about rates, levies, property taxes, and utilities.
In addition to this wealth brings the additional problem of having to protect it. The more you have, the more you have to secure. There’s a lot more work that goes into protecting more wealth.
Makes you comfortable
More money definitely brings more comfort and this why we chase it. A lot of the immediate problems we face in life can be taken care off by money. So for many people, more money could take care of their problems altogether. What more money brings is comfort. Assuming you haven’t fallen victim to Parkinson’s law more income means more power to you. The power to meet challenges when they arise, at least where money is the solution. This comfort is the ultimate goal of many, knowing that come what may they are financially prepared to take care of it.
To a point…
Too much of a good thing is just as bad. Now I’m not a proponent of the law of diminishing returns on many things but when it comes to money I do believe. There is a point where the benefit of increasing income starts to diminish. While money brings you greater comfort and the ability to handle problems as they arise and thus eliminate worry. It does get to a point where the increase in money doesn’t bring any more change to that situation. For when all problems are either taken care of or adequately prepared for more money will not bring a change to life.
Choice is a blessing
What money and more of it does give you is choice. The ability to do more and in more ways. To choose how to spend your time and not be bound by constraints. Where to holiday and how to holiday while you’re at it. In every sphere of life, more money gives you more options. Being restricted in choices is sometimes the worst part of life on the wrong side of the financial tracks.
Lack of problems isn’t happiness
Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theorem illustrates best that the absence of a negative does not always equal a positive. Certainly, Herzberg’s theory was related to the workplace but we can easily it applies to other spheres of life. And our problems are no exception. While eradication of problems may certainly alleviate stress it is not a guarantee of happiness.
While the absence of money certainly leads to many problems that cause great unhappiness its presence does not automatically equate to happiness. Happiness is not a thing or a place but really a state of mind. Can this state of mind be achieved because one has more money? Absolutely. It can also be achieved without more money, money isn’t the determining factor in happiness, just one of the things that make it easier to enjoy our happiness.