It’s a fairly common belief that if we had more money, we would be happier. It’s so commonly believed, in fact, that there’s a very popular counter-argument, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
Studies have shown that up to a certain, moderate income, having enough money to cover essential bills and to not have to worry about your next meal can, in fact, increase your levels of happiness - up to a certain point.
It has also been demonstrated that after a certain point, extra money can bring extra stress with it. There’s the stress of all the extra work to earn the money, along with always having to wonder if people in your life like friends or lovers truly like you, or are just motivated by your money.
People without much money might think, “The stress of being too rich? Sounds like a good problem to have…” and it’s certainly better than worrying about where your next meal is going to come from, but many people who have achieved great financial success will tell you that it doesn’t just magically fix all your problems. Having the financial vocabulary to understand the ins and outs, and how they can be impacted by happiness, can make a huge difference.
But what about if we flip the script, and look at it the other way around? Forgot about money causing happiness, what about happiness improving your finances? Here are some ways that searching for, and finding happiness, can help improve your finances. Of course, just saying “be happy” is a huge oversimplification, but a lot of it has to do with perspective. People in some of the world’s poorer countries rank higher when it comes to overall happiness than people in richer countries, and a lot of it has to do with perspective.
Have you ever been upset, in a bad mood, or just feeling kind of down and decided to go shopping, book a vacation, or spend money on something you might not otherwise? It’s understandable, and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, but if you’re looking for happiness at the bottom of a shopping bag, you won’t find it there, but you will find credit card bills that have been racked up, which can lead to even more worries and stress.
Spending money to feel happy is a short-term solution, and if part of your unhappiness or stress is related to your finances, it’s not just a band-aid… it’s going to make your problems worse in the long run. Doing things that are free to take your mind off your problems, instead of shopping and spending money, can be a great step in the right direction. Going for a walk, talking to a friend on the phone, watching a movie...
If you’re focusing on your happiness and self-care, it will start to manifest good things in most areas of your life. Again, it’s easy to say “just be happy”, and in a lot of cases there’s a lot more to it than that, especially if you’re dealing with depression or a chemical imbalance. It’s all about taking small, diligent steps.
Practicing mindfulness and gratitude can help a lot. However you start to increase your happiness, one area that you’ll notice benefits can be on the job. From getting along with coworkers better, making less little mistakes, providing better service, and just not letting normal job stuff stress you out as much, this can all lead to increased performance, which can lead to promotions and better opportunities.
Of course, it depends on the company as well. Some jobs don’t have a lot of room for upward movement, and in those cases, a better outlook can give you the confidence and encouragement you need to pursue better opportunities.
Sometimes, unhappiness can cause us to act impulsively, which can be very detrimental to our overall finances. People may make worse financial decisions when they’re feeling stressed or impulsive, so having a better handle on things can lead to making wiser long-term financial decisions. A happy, calm, and peaceful outlook can lead to taking a more measured approach to financial decisions.
When it’s all said and done, increased happiness can lead to a better financial situation, or at the very least it can lead to not letting money-issues have as much of a toll on your happiness, which in turn can help put you in a better financial situation in the long run. Things like this can be difficult since mental health and money are both taboo subjects in many circles, but talking about it and raising awareness is a good step in the right direction.