More money doesn’t equal more happiness.
This much should be obvious: many celebrities have as much money as anyone could ever dream of, yet it seems like they commit suicide at a higher rate than the general population.
Consider this passage from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s insightful book Flow:
Wealth, status, and power have become in our culture all too powerful symbols of happiness. When we see people who are rich, famous, or good- looking, we tend to assume that their lives are rewarding, even though all the evidence might point to their being miserable.
Given these observations, instead of worrying about how to make a million dollars or how to win friends and influence people, it seems more beneficial to find out how everyday life can be made more harmonious and more satisfying, and thus achieve by a direct route what cannot be reached through the pursuit of symbolic goals.
Money is only a symbolic goal that represents happiness. Your quest to find purpose meaning and satisfaction will not find direct fulfillment in the pursuit of money.
That being said, you do have a money problem. Money is the literal currency by which we interact with society. Your ability to live a life consistent with your own values and deepest desires is going to be constrained by financial considerations.
Many of us will spend enormous amounts of our most valuable resources (time and energy) being somewhere we don’t want to be, doing something we don’t want to do in pursuit of money.
The money problem is that until you win the money game, you’re not free — you’re life is constrained by the need to earn money.
Here are two ways to win the money game:
The idea here is simple: your money can make money, and that money can take care of your living expenses.
There are three levers here:
Spend Less: The less stuff you want, the less money you need. Also, the less you spend, the more money you can put to work to start making money for you.
Earn More: There’s a limit to how much you can save, but no limit to how much you can earn. The more money you earn, the more you can put to work earning money.
Invest Wisely: Your money needs to earn money. Invest in the stock market, buy commercial real estate, start a business. Put that money to work.
At some point, your money will start making money than you do. You can call this “retirement” but that implies that you stop working — and I don’t think you should ever stop working. Work is a fundamental facet of being human and the moment you stop working is the moment you start dying.
That leads us to the second strategy:
Find Work You Love
Yes, this is much easier said than done (which is part of the reason that up until recently I hated this advice). So what? Do the hard work of creating a career that you love. If you can earn money doing work that feels more like play, you win. You don’t ever need to reach financial independence.
I’ve written a lot on these topics, so if this article piqued your interest and you’re wanting more, you’ll love these:
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