Would you rather be rich or happy?

11 10 2011

Here is an interesting article on the relationship between wealth and happiness, by the Happiness Institute (you can read more of their articles on www.thehappinessinstitute.com). It is written by Dr. Timothy Sharp, who is certainly well-qualified to write about such a subject: he has three degrees in psychology (including a Ph.D.) and an impressive record as an academic, clinician and coach.  He set up one of Sydney’s largest clinical psychology practices (www.makingchanges.com.au), a highly regarded Executive Coaching practice (www.positiveld.com), and is the founder of Australia’s first organisation devoted solely to enhancing happiness in individuals, families and organisations. Have a read, and let it make you think!

–          Quinton

 

Would you rather be rich or happy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Money and wealth or happiness and health? Do you really need to choose? Are they dichotomous or mutually exclusive constructs? I’ve written before and I’m sure I’ll write again about the relationship between money and happiness. Why? Because people keep asking me about it and there are still many myths and misconceptions out there on this topic that are crying out to be busted!

Today, however, I want to focus on just one aspect of this interesting (and necessary) debate…and that’s the ridiculous and false dichotomy that’s often created or assumed within this discussion. To what am I referring? Well, the belief that seems to be held by some that this is an “either – or” decision…that is, I need to choose either money OR happiness!

But even just a few minutes thought should allow anyone to realise this is not a real issue; it’s a false choice and an unhelpful, even absurd question. Because the reality is we can have both, or neither, or a bit of each…

You see money and happiness are barely related. They are related for those at the very lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum. That is, for those struggling to pay their bills and/or put food on the table, for those (for want of a better phrase) who’re below the “poverty” line, then more money will ease their stress and worries and allow for more happiness.

Above and beyond this, however, the relationship becomes minimal. It is there; there is some relationship; and that is that more money doesn’t hurt and may even allow for access to opportunities and health care and education and more, all of which can be good for our health and well being. But the “return on investment” gained from pursuing more and more wealth, once we have “enough” is minimal. And yet we know that so much more can be gained if we pursue or seek other variables such as good quality relationships or physical flourishing (just to cite two examples).

But this is not what many who ask the aforementioned question are thinking. What they seem to be thinking is I must make a choice! Well, yes, we all need to make choices in life and many of these choices are fundamentally important for our happiness and health but the choice is not really between being rich OR being happy! We can have both…if we want. But the point I want to try to make here is that chosing happiness is a separate and different choice altogether…it may or may not lead to or be associated with wealth. It will probably have nothing to do with it because financial choices will require completely different decisions.

So let’s not get these two issues confused; they’re both important issues but they’re both separate issues so let’s give them both the respect they deserve without forcing ourselves to miss out on either. What do you think?

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2 responses

11 10 2011
Nel

Q: Would you rather be rich or happy?
Nel: Both.

We may need money for basic survival, but happiness cannot be bought.

21 10 2011
Quinton McCauley

Another post on this coming up!

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