Money Does Not Equal Happiness

Three years and exactly 99 posts ago I went to wordpress.com and started this blog.

I’ve been waiting for something worthy enough for my 100th post.

Today the impetus for my centennial post arrived.

I was reading about how Crispin Glover of Back to The Future Stardom recently came out and stated that he didn’t participate in the second installment of the Back To The Future franchise because:

…he was upset with the materialistic happy ending of the first film. He didn’t like that the McFlys were happier people because they were more prosperous financially. And he felt the idea that money = happiness is BS.

He noted that he wasn’t the only person asking questions about the original ending “It had to do with money, and what the characters were doing with money … I said to Robert Zemeckis (the film’s producer) I thought it was not a good idea for our characters to have a monetary reward, because it basically makes the moral of the movie that money equals happiness”. Glover argued “the love should be the reward”, and “Zemeckis got really mad” over Glover’s questioning.

To which I completely remembered the ending and the truck that Marty Mcfly had lusted after and how happy he was finally possessing it as well as how content the family was with their outwardly prosperous life.

And I realized how much I liked that ending as a child. I wanted that truck.

I wanted my family to be happy like that, because, I believed that if we had money, we truly would be.

But now, I’m 28 and I realize that the outwardly prosperous life = happiness equation equals bullshit as much as Crispin Glover’s reasoning for not participating in the second Back To The Future is bullshit.

Anyone remember a movie Crispin Glover was in called Hot Tub Time Machine?

Well, if you have seen that movie, the irony is that it has the exact same ending as Back To The Future: they end up in an alternate timeline where everyone has money and is happy as a result.

Both of those movies have happy endings, and both endings send the same message and once again, the disempowering belief of money = happiness is sold.

The truth is that Crispin Glover wasn’t in the second Back To The Future film because as the film’s screenwriter stated, “His salary demands were unreasonable”.

Hipster armchair observations about Crispin Glover aside, you need to know that as long as you believe that prosperity equals happiness, you will be unhappy without it.

The truth is that people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be. (Thank you Abraham Lincoln for that quote).

And your beliefs are the only real barrier to your happiness.

Because the truth about money is that all too many people spend their lives chasing it, and then they end up dying and realizing that it wasn’t money that mattered.

The truth about money is that it is as important to your happiness as you let it be.

And trust me and everyone who has ever lay dying when I tell you that there are much more important stops on your pursuit of real and true happiness than the pursuit of things.

Money doesn’t buy your time back. It won’t bring your family back. And it sure as hell won’t bring you true happiness.

I’m not making a case for a spartan life. I enjoy money. I’ve had the luxury of being rich and poor. And trust me, as it is said, rich is better.

But I stopped trading things that truly matter to me in exchange for the pursuit of money. And to me, that was the lesson that has made my life what it is today.

Unfortunately, it’s a lesson I can’t teach. You have to figure it out for yourself.

But the beautiful thing is that you know what matters to you; as with all matters of the heart, you already have the right answers.

But alas, so many of us are caught in the trap of judging ourselves and others based on the standards that society has programmed us to keep score with – money being the chief metric among these.

My advice on money is to figure out the real worth that money actually brings to your life.

How much comfort do you need? How much freedom do you need? How much choice and control do you need?

I’m not saying you have to stop there, but the truth is, the real return of money stops at a certain point – and the danger begins when you start sacrificing the things that really matter in order to acquire an arbitrary and intangible sense of worth that you have bestowed onto money.

And maybe you have no liquidity and your bank ledger is constantly dipping into the red – then the real question in this case is, have you sacrificed your sense of self-worth and inner peace as a result?

Because the truth about money is that it comes and goes, and like love, it comes a lot easier when you don’t attach your self-worth to it.

That’s a big gamble to make. Don’t attach who you are to what you have.

Einstein said that all he needed to be happy was ‘chair, a desk, and an apple’.

I think we all need to determine what our chair, desk, and apple are.

My personal and semi satirical-twist on this is that all I need to be happy is a pizza and a box of wine.

Now, I am not a wino, but if I had a pizza and a box of wine, I’m pretty sure I could manage to have a great afternoon.

If I truly was to equate how much money I needed to experience inner peace and lasting happiness, I would probably take a good look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in relation to how much money effects meeting my basic physiological and safety needs.

Beyond that, I would use Maslow’s model to examine my personal beliefs about money in relation to my sense of Love/Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization and use this as a guide to determine how much money I need in order to reach my peak potential in life.

My goals in life involve having a large family and providing them with the things that money affords that I did not have access to.

However, in my personal journey, I have been extremely fortunate to have come from my unique background and in the course of my 28 years to have discovered on my own what money and happiness really means to me.

The intangibles, the things I write about that have so much more worth than money ever could.

Because the intangible truth is that happiness is independent from circumstance.

If you do not understand this, I implore you to read the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning.

Seriously, invest in yourself and your future generations. These works are the real deal.

If you are unhappy because of a lack of prosperity I’d advise you to stop comparing yourself to other people and to reexamine your heroes.

If you are still hellbent on pursuing prosperity as a means to happiness, by all means, go ahead. I’ve been down that road. It’s like being a mouse in a cage, running on that wheel. It leads to the same place you are now.

Money is just a means – to what end is your choice.

You can use it to help yourself and others, or you can use it to separate yourself from others by judging those with it or without it – yourself included.

It’s just money.

Figure out what it means to you and you’ll figure out your relationship with it.

Figure out what you will use it for and don’t be used for it.

Figure out how money relates to your personal happiness, and whether it’s real needs that are the limiting factor to your well-being, or whether it’s just your beliefs about money that are holding you down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Figure out what matters to you. You only have so much time.

Figure out how you are keeping score in life.

Money is just security, and if you are fortunate – a bit of freedom and autonomy as well – but real freedom and autonomy arises from your beliefs, and real security comes from who you are.

Don’t believe the lie that money equals happiness.

Meaning equals happiness.

Find meaning in your experiences, in your beliefs, in your relationships, and in the present moment.

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else. – Aristotle

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2 thoughts on “Money Does Not Equal Happiness

  1. I met you in PB while watching a cardinals and chargers game. You took my phone and put a link of your blog on my phone. I thought you were crazy! Lol… After reading your blogs i think you have a profound insight into life. Very well written and said!

    Like

    • Hi Shaleen : ) – Thank you for stopping by. That’s funny, yeah – I definitely am crazy, but this blog is my crazy island where I sometimes invite people to explore this colorful mind of mine. Thank you so much for your complements. I have a very small and treasured list of compliments I carry through life and I’ve added yours. I appreciate it. I really do.

      Like

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