Money, Greed and Happiness

I want to share with you the message that was sent out today to subscribers of A Daily Dose of Happiness.  This is particularly timely because of the credit crunch that is making everyone suffer, but if you are a sensitive sort, you might not want to read any further; I am about to rain on most people’s parade.

The credit crunch is a product of – let’s not mince words – greed.  All of our greed.  We wanted more, more, more (SFX: maniacal laughter in background).  Well, we got more, more, more than we could ever hope to throw away without even opening the excess packaging.  Sooner or later we have to pay for it.  Sooner or later has arrived.

Today’s Daily Dose of Happiness Message 

You know that whole debate about money buying happiness. It gets overly simplified, like far too many things.

I recall attending a Zig Ziglar seminar a few years ago. He said, “Money is not the most important thing in life, but it comes reasonably close to oxygen.”

His point is well taken, but how much oxygen do you need? There is a point at which more oxygen can be a life-saver. There is also a point where more oxygen becomes overkill.

Likewise with money. The first dollar you make this year will be very, very important for your happiness. At some point, when your basic needs are secured, the value of money starts falling dramatically. The 100,000th dollar you make this year will likely bring some extra momentary pleasure, but is unlikely to  actually make you happier.

The key is to find the point at which money stops making you happier. Any investment of additional time to earn more money will actually reduce your happiness (more money that does not add to your happiness, less time that would have).

Any further compromise of values or principles required to earn more money will likewise reduce your happiness (more money that does not add to your happiness, less integrity that would have).

Instead of accepting that we have to pay for all the excess of the past couple decades, we want the government (that’s us, remember?) to buy us even more excess.  Yes, we in the Western world really are embarassingly spoiled rich kids.  The problem, as any credit counselor can tell you, is that you cannot spend your way out of debt.   And as we dig our way into even greater debt, I just cannot see how that creates more happiness.  I fear we are collectively handing over the keys to what I call “The Merchants of Misery” in my book, Climb Your Stairway to Heaven.