8.08 – MONEY CANNOT BUY HAPPINESS: –
Millions of us spend more time and energy pursuing the things money can buy than engaging in activities that create real fulfillment in life, like cultivating friendships, helping others and developing spiritual sense. We say that we know that money can’t buy happiness. Once your basic needs are met additional income does little to raise your sense of satisfaction with life.
Psychologists have found that the Forbes 400 richest Americans were only a tiny bit happier than the public as a whole, because those with wealth often continue to feel jealousy about the possessions or prestige of other wealthy people, even large sums of money may fail to confer well being.
Reference Anxiety: –People tend not to ask themselves, does my house meet my needs? Instead they ask, is my house nicer than my neighbor’s? If you own a two-bed room house and everyone around you owns a two-bed room house, your reference anxiety will be low, and your two-bed room house may seem fine. But if your two-bedroom house is surrounded by three and four bedroom house, your reference anxiety might rise. Our soaring reference anxiety is a product of the widening gap in income distribution. It’s all-relative.
Earning capacity: –As material expectations keep rising more money may engender only more desires. What people want in terms of material things and life experiences has increased almost exactly in lockstep with the post war earnings curve. That money never satisfies is suggested by telling this fact: polls show that Americans believe that, whatever their income level, they need more to live well. Even those making large sums said still large sums were required. We seem conditioned to think we do not have enough.
Future Perspective of Life: –If we think our lot is improving, happiness follows. People’s expectations about future may have more influence on their sense of well-being than their current state does. People living modestly but anticipating better days to come are likely to be happier than people living well but not looking forward to improvements in their living standards. Consider two people one earns $50,000 a year and foresees a 10% raise and the other makes $150,000 but does not expect any salary increase. The second person is much better off in financial terms but the first is more likely to feel good about life. People tend to focus on the negative part and ignore the positive. Fixated on always getting more, we fail to appreciate how much we have.
Final Note: –Psychology and sociology aside, there is final reason money can’t buy happiness: The things that really matter in life are not sold in stores. Love, Friendship, Family, Respect, a place in the community. The belief that your life has a purpose – those are the essentials of human fulfillment, and they cannot be purchased with cash. Everyone needs a certain amount of money, but chasing money is a formula for discontent. Too many Americans have made materialism and the cycle of work and spend their principal goals. Then they wonder why they don’t feel happy.