Can Money Buy You Happiness?

Time to read: 1:22.25

Money, money, money!

Money, money, money!

I spend my days talking to people about their work lives and how to make their work lives more fulfilling and life giving. A topic that comes up with some regularity is MONEY.

Here are the things I hear:

  • How can I get more money (i.e. get promoted)?
  • How can I stop spending so much money?
  • I feel guilty for wanting to buy this couch, jewelry, trip... fill in the blank on your own guilty purchase.
  • I feel shallow for even caring about money.

So, as the spending season of the holidays approaches, let's talk turkey about money (HA! Pun intended.) by dispelling some money myths:

  1. Money can't buy happiness. This myth has been scientifically debunked in many studies. Increasing income does equate to more happiness, to a point, and that point is around $75,000 a year. Reducing financial worries increases happiness. Being able to meet your family's needs buys happiness. Being generous with your money buys happiness. More than $75,000 is not correlated with ever increasing happiness.

  2. Poverty is noble. Somewhere deep in our collective psyche is the notion that poverty is noble - that not having or not caring about money means you care more about social justice or you are somehow living closer to some deep truth. I've lived in many places in the world and have had many friends who would never say their poverty is noble. They work very hard to achieve a level of financial security that supports their families. Perseverance and autonomy are noble. Love and generosity are noble.

  3. Wanting money makes you greedy. There is certainly a way that striving after money for the sake of amassing a huge bank account or using money to step on others is greedy. And, the desire to have money can be channeled into a desire to live according to your values - buying an electric car, donating to causes you care about, buying a couch to provide a place for family to gather, providing scholarships to children to receive an education (to name just a few).

  4. Money is about buying stuff. Yes, it is lovely to be able to buy groceries and Christmas gifts without anxiety. And money buys much more than stuff. It buys you freedom. It buys you time. Paying for help in your house or someone to cook (I wish!) frees your time to do your work in the world. Money enables you to make choices, about where you live, how you spend your day, and how you honor your values.

The existence of money is simply another form of energy in your life. Use it consciously to honor your values and create freedom, and you will find that in fact, money does buy happiness.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!


P.S. As a big fan of Christmas, December's newsletters will be inspired by Christmas - all things gifts. If you know someone who would love to spend this season celebrating gifts and presents, please forward this newsletter to them. They can join us here!


You want to make more money. Consider this.

2 little 'ole minutes to read

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New clients frequently tell me that they want to make more money and get promoted. They say that more money is going to make them feel valued and appreciated and happier at work. Does this ring true for you or someone you know?

Money is great. It gives you access and enables you to do things you care about like give it away, support important causes, buy food, and trade it for precious time.

And, money is only one currency. Cultural messages teach you that money is the ONLY currency. Prevailing messages want you to believe that money (or title) is the measure of your self-worth as an employee and a human being.

And guess what? (This is the part of writing these newsletters that I love.) There are many forms of currency by which to measure your worth, work, and life experience. (Although one could argue that your worth is never measurable. It just is. Full stop. End of newsletter.)

Please indulge me with a story.

My family closed on a new house yesterday (Yikes!) which means we had to sell our house (double, triple Yikes!). We set our sale price and strategized with our realtor. We were walking out the back door to the airport for vacation as our first buyers were walking in the front. Our house sold in 2 days with 5 offers (whew and wow and head still spinning).

When we returned after a week away, numerous friends said to us that we could have charged more for our house. In my vulnerable, post-vacation state, I started down the path of a freakout. Did we sell out? Could we have gotten more? Money, money, money!

Then I was reminded (thank you Steve and our amazing realtor, Brad). We consciously chose currency other than money for the sale of our house. We wanted potential buyers to feel excited (they did). We wanted great new neighbors for our beloved neighbors (yes!). We wanted buyers who would love our house and care for the garden like we do (they will). We wanted the entire process to be easy with as little stress and disruption to our family as possible (we were literally taking offers in our flip-flops on the beach and never had to do the "clean and run" I have heard is so stressful - can't get easier than that).

Our currency in this sale is great relationships, ease, little to no stress, and a great couple we are delighted to welcome home. For what amount of money would we trade all that? No amount.

When you look around your work and life, what's the currency you use to measure your success and value? (Here are some hints to work with: love, creativity, relationships, contribution, work/life balance, feeling deeply fulfilled, joy, ease).

Let's work together to change the measuring stick. As MasterCard used to say, your ease, joy, and happiness are priceless!

I hope this helps.