Happiness vs. Money: Why We Do Things for the Money
By now we should all know that money can’t buy happiness. Happiness studies around the world have proven it and if you personally know any “rich” people, you know they don’t have it any easier than you or I do when it comes to being happy.
But talk is cheap. It’s easy to repeat the phrase over and over in our heads and accept its truth: “Yeah yeah, I know. Money can’t buy happiness—I get it.”
Then reality hits, and when we’re confronted with a decision between doing something for a “pure” reason or picking another for the money, we tend to go with the money. Two job offers that seem similar but one offers a higher paycheck, two side businesses that will be equally hard work to get off the ground—more than likely we’ll pick the money.
Why is that? Why do we hear clichés like “money can’t buy happiness” over and over, internalize them, accept them, and then completely ignore them when reality comes calling?
I’ll tell you why: because money does a lot. When life happens and shit hits the fan, money goes a LONG way. It brings you peace of mind, it can relieve stress, and it can make your life a lot smoother. Is that happiness? I don’t know, but I do know that before we tackle happiness we want to just stop feeling bad.
Money can do that.
If I’m going to have a baby and I have to decide between starting a baseball blog and starting a web-analytics blog, then by God I’m going to start the Analytics blog. Why? Because that’s a potential business. Baseball is something I’m passionate about and can speak on for hours on end. I’m knowledgeable and confident. But that space is so crowded and I just don’t see the potential business side to it.
I don’t see the money.
Yes, I’m passionate about baseball. Would I enjoy starting a baseball blog? No doubt about it. Would it be fun and would I be happy? I’m pretty sure I would be. But what would I have after all those hours of hard work? I know what it takes to run a blog at full steam and it’s a LOT of work. What would I have to show for all my work a couple of years from now?
Probably an abandoned blog and some nostalgic memories of the site I imagined I wanted to start. Why? Because I probably wouldn’t have the time to do it anymore—I’d be off trying to make some more money somewhere else to pay for diapers and college funds and all that other stuff. I’d be stressed out about how to deal with it all and money would make me feel tons better.
As for the Analytics blog: it’s a topic I’m well versed in but could learn a LOT more about. I’ve been playing baseball for 22 years (!) but have been analyzing data for barely four. There is room for growth, it’s a challenge, and there’s money there.
I know I’m not special. Everyone has gone through this before. How many times have you heard this one:
When we were young and we first had you, we had no money!
And these people seem nostalgic about it, like those were the good ol’ days! And that does make me feel better—if millions of people have done it, I can do it. But that’s looking back. Looking ahead at the unknown is not easy. It’s scary.
And in the face of the unknown, when we’re scared and don’t know what to do, money helps. It doesn’t solve all your problems or make you happy, but it helps. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it buys help.
Image by renaissancechambara