Talk about a loaded topic. But what the heck it is a topic that is one of the top three issues I deal with, when working with any new client. MONEY. MONEY. MONEY. A pretty big 5-letter word that is interwoven into our identity, self-worth, belief systems, and our short and long-term happiness. So what are the experts telling us?
Depending on what studies you read there is research to suggest that over a particular household income (in the western world), happiness is minimally affected. The number ranges I have seen are from $50,000 – $75,000 annually, and above these levels, the additional cashola has pretty limited affect on your overall happiness. Happiness above that level is less likely to be associated with the income and more associated with the meaning someone gets from the work that they do.
When I talk about money, I often like to swap the term for ‘wealth’, because it allows for a broader meaning and perspective, which is often beneficial. I like MJ DeMarco’s definition of wealth in his great book ‘The Millionaire Fastlane’ (he says there is a Fast lane, but don’t confuse it with an easy lane). He suggests that wealth is the sum of:
- Your Health (physical, emotional and spiritual – my extrapolation)
- Your Relationships
- Your Finances
And I would personally add a 4th category to the list: Your (enjoyment of) Work
Social psychologists actually suggest that if your goals are just money related (or fame and beauty), the attainment of the goal is likely to decrease your emotional health. Whereas goals that relate to personal development, relationships and contribution, will increase your emotional health (also called intrinsic goals).
The takeaway here is don’t get too focused on the money at the expense of your health, your relationships with friends and family and doing meaningful work that fulfills you. I am sure that we all know more than one person that has amassed great wealth, only to have their health be up the crappers (so eloquent) or their relationships fall to pieces around them.
I also like Brendan Burchard’s three ‘end of life’ reflections based on his research and personal experience. These are the three most common reflections that people have as they are approaching the end of their life:
- Did I (fully) live?
- Did I love (all out)?
- Did I matter (or make a difference)?
It seems that “did I make one million dollars?” did not make the Top 3. Before I wrap up this little post, I want to make it very clear that making lots of money is a-ok. Great in fact. It allows you to have a greater impact on more people. Also to experience more things in life to expand your life’s expression. You are just best (from a happiness perspective) not to get fixated on the money first. Just a reminder. 😉