I recently read an article that brought to my attention an interesting concept that correlates the way we perceive money and its relationship happiness. The article paraphrased and elaborated on a writing by John Armstrong, and what it explained was not the direct relation between amount of money and amount of happiness but rather why we are wired into believing that the more we earn, the more material goods we purchase, the happier we become. As time presses on, I am a believer that people are finally coming to a realization that this simply is not scientifically true and studies produced for decades, always yield the same result. There is a certain point in the money to happiness ratio or curve that gaining more financially does not produce happier people.
So, what Armstrong was suggesting is that there are essentially two ways humans learn; training and educating. To train a person, you are merely having them carry out specific tasks that will hopefully contribute to a larger product more efficiently. In training, the trainer does not need to invest any interest in who the trainee is, what the trainee loves to do, or how that trainee thinks… the trainee is a robot. We are TRAINED about money from Day 1. As kids, we simply WANT we do not NEED. We want a toy, we know we need money to get it, and once we get it we will be happy. Well, at a certain point in our adolesence this idea needs to be intercepted and we need to be EDUCATED about money.
Education involves the process embracing the person as a whole. How do they learn? What do they enjoy/love? What makes them happy? How can I best reach this individual to be their best? If we can intercept this idea that money is happiness at a young age and educate young adults on the matter, there wouldn’t be so much ugrency to get the highest paying job to eventually become inadequately happy.
The single most influential concept to money being happiness is deciphering the battle between wants and needs. Educating about wants vs. needs will allow young adults to perceive money as a priveldge and not just a means of gaining more for yourself. Being able to ward off mere desires (wants) will allow ones self to truely determine the important aspects of life (needs) that will produce significant happiness. The ability to resist desires is the means of shaping a persons self. To be able to adequatley answer the question of how will this better myself when making a purchse will open your eyes to how much you do not need.
The ability to realize what you need versus want, will ultimatley open up more doors leading to a fulfilling and happy life. Not working 60 hours a week to receive that new promotion in an office you dread going to everyday just so you can make an extra $15,000/year will open up time you can spend with friends and family, travel, workout, cook, etc. All aspects of life more important than money, but by reducing yourself to a work horse for money you will only seek further fulfillment once receiving that promotion. It will be self-fulfilling and rewarding for a very small window of time, soon you will seek more. Which, leads me into another psychological concept pertaining to wealth and happiness; the hedonic-treadmill.
“Don’t reserve our central capabilities for the margins and weekends of life.”