Money Won’t Make You Happy, but…
Money. It’s this weird thing. Some people say you don’t need it, some people devote their entire life to it, most people seem to be controlled by it. While I don’t think that money is everything, I don’t think you can ignore it either.
I can’t tell you what having a lot of money does to you, because I don’t know. But I do know that I never had to worry about money growing up and I do know that not having money now has changed me. It’s made me numb or sad in a way. And in general, it’s made me into a person I don’t really like. I’ve stopped having fun for the most part and when I do, it’s controlled. I don't get the same enjoyment out of life that I used to and the only thing that’s different between now and the way I grew up, is money.
I’ve missed countless events, I’ve missed seeing friends who I haven’t seen in years when they came into town, I’ve missed experiencing the wonderful city of L.A. to it’s fullest, I haven't been able to enjoy Christmas in five years because the thought of getting people gifts made me cringe because I couldn't afford it…
Kanye West has a famous line from his song Good Life that goes “Having money’s not everything, but not having it is.” That’s a statement that rings true beyond all doubt if you ask me. Because while money can't necessarily buy happiness, it can buy shelter, food, experiences, opportunities, and most importantly, freedom.
Can you be happy with no money? Sure. Can everybody be happy with no money? I’m gonna say no. What if I want a place to live where I feel comfortable and safe, not just a place that is four dingy walls and a leaky roof? What if I want food that’s healthy, tastes good, and allows me to become the best version of myself, not just whatever is the cheapest and will stretch the longest?
What if I enjoy things like snowboarding, having a drink with friends at that new gastro pub, or skydiving, or riding motorcycles (I don’t actually, but still)? And I know what you're going to say. “Do you have any idea how lucky you are? Go to a third world country, get some perspective (plane tickets also cost money by the way), and then come talk to me.”
Look, I understand that living in America is lucky in itself, but knowing that there are people around the world who have it way worse than me doesn't make me happier by comparison. It makes be more appreciative-- it makes me grateful that I have what I have, but what I’ve come to realize is that “grateful” and “happy” are two different things.
I know they say that happiness is a choice, but I think gratitude is a choice. To me, happiness comes from somewhere else. Happiness involves excitement, being moved to excitement by a set of unexpected positive circumstances or events. I think that gratitude and appreciation compliment happiness and can increase your level of happiness, but I don't think the former leads to the latter.
Some of you might say, “so why don't you just make more money?” Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that... Sure I could get some job I don't care about and do that 40-60 hours a week and probably be financially okay or even pretty good, but isn't the whole point of life to do what makes you happy, to do what you’re called to do-- at least most of the time? Or at the very least shouldn’t you be able to not feel like your life is pointless and empty? At what amount of time spent on your “job” do you not have time or energy to play and do that which you love?
I don't know, I've been trying to come up with some kind of solution to the whole thing and I don't think I'm the only one. The best I could come up with is “find a way to make the most amount of money as quickly and easily as possible so you can then go do what you want, find a way to get other people to fund your life forever, or win the lottery...” Which-- I know, super helpful, right?
If you have any insight, please, by all means. I’m sure this is one of the biggest issues for those of us who are trying to live more freely, even more so for creative people. I believe there is a better answer than “suck it up,” because there has to be. If there is one post that ends in some sort of resolution, I want it to be this one.