One of the most common cliche’s that gets thrown around is that money can’t buy happiness. While I agree that you can’t actually BUY happiness, I think it should be known that money can definetly bring you happiness. You may be wondering what that means exactly, especially coming from a guy who keeps telling you to save your money and not spend it on the material things that we as a whole think make us happy.
The idea of happiness is something that has been consuming my mind lately. I find myself constantly thinking about the ideas of what brings someone happiness? How can I achieve it? And what does that mean for my future. If you would have asked me years ago how I would achieve happiness it would 100% be linked to me pursuing the job I wanted as a Police Officer. I had no doubts in my mind that getting this job would make me happy, and it did. But I’m sure as many of you can relate, I put way too much emphasis on my job being my identity. Everyone began to know me as a police officer and all of my effort was being put into being good at it. My first couple years, I barely took any time off because I enjoyed what I was doing on a daily basis so much that it didn’t seem like work. As each year went on the amount of time off I was taking went up and the idea of going to work everyday became less and less appealing. This isn’t because I don’t like my job, it more so has to do with the idea that I was finding it was other things in life that were making me happy, and work was now just that….work.
On the flip side, my job has provided me with the ability to save money, and this is where the idea of money bringing happiness comes in. Since starting my career and having a steady increasing income many of the stresses in life have disappeared. I have not once had to think about running out of money, not being able to pay a bill, or constantly having to check my bank account to see when my paycheck is deposited. The idea of having this financial freedom is more powerful than I can even explain. I have gone through bouts in my life where I was worried about these things and man was it stressful. The fact that in 6 years I have had no idea what day I get paid is something I am proud of and I’m glad I have been able to achieve that. It has brought a sense of happiness into my life and a lack of stress. Money issues are a huge cause of stress in our lives and are the #2 reason for divorce in our country. Money is not something to take lightly yet it is something our country is totally failing at. We don’t teach our kids about it in school, which leads to them taking on huge amounts of debt, which leads to high levels of stress and being stuck in a job you don’t enjoy, which leads to unhappiness, depression, and anxiety, which leads to a life that is not enjoyable or fulfilling.
We have to remember that this life is the only one we are given on earth and we have to for lack of a better term live our best life. Some people may see that as the idea to say, “Screw it then. If I only live once I’m going to buy as many toys as I can, build up huge amounts of debt, and enjoy the time I have left.” But please, slow down. Study after study shows that these are not the things that bring happiness. Pursuing relationships with people, creating things with your own two hands, accomplishing goals, overcoming hardships, raising a family, and spending time on hobbies you enjoy are where its really at.
So now that I’ve preached to you about not pursuing material things I’ll just share a few examples of how I’ve learned this. Growing up I loved fast cars and motorcycles, It’s all I would read about and it was the main topic behind all of the TV shows and video games I played. I grew up riding dirtbikes which lead me to owning three different motorcycles as an adult. Every time I would buy one of these motorcycles I would get super excited, start riding them all the time, and enjoy how happy they made me. The only problem was that this quickly faded with each one. I would get tired of getting stuck in the rain or the cold, and my bikes would just end up sitting longer and longer in between each ride while I continued to pay for the registration, insurance, and maintenance.
I also bought my dream car a few years ago which was a Pontiac Trans Am. This car had a 6 speed manual transmission, a rebuilt V8 engine, and looked absolutley beautiful. This was everything I could ever want, but again after a few months I was over it. I found that my initial desire to have this car had faded away just in the same way it had with the motorcycles I owned. As of today all of these vehicles have been sold and my happiness has actually gone up. I no longer have to think about storing them, fixing them if they break down, and paying the extra monthly costs for insurance and other upkeep. This was a lesson that took me 3 motorcycles and a car to learn but it was such an important lesson to make me realize what things in life really matter. Now that I have learned this lesson almost every purchase I make comes along with the question, “Will this purchase make you happier?” I try to evaluate things in terms of how much better they will make my life while being realistic about it and putting the initial impulses to the side.
So take a few minutes today and think about many of the purchases you have made in the past. Did they bring you lasting happiness or could that money have been put to use in better ways? Think of the idea of not having stress about money and how much that would change your life. Realize that the abundance of money can bring happiness, not by giving you the opportunity to start amassing things, but by giving you options in life to do what you want to do and not have to worry about those monthly bills anymore.
Share in the comments how money affects your life either positively or negatively. Was there a purchase you made that you thought would make you happy that ended up doing the opposite?
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