Why Making Lots of Money Doesn’t Always Make People Happy

by Don Smith

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If I had a dime for every time someone has told me that they aren't happy even though they make lots of money, I'd be a very rich man. Well, maybe not rich, but at the very least, I could buy myself some caffeine to stay awake this afternoon.

Listen, I'm not going to tell you some sob story about how being broke is a good thing. I've been broke, and that sucks. I like being able to fly off to a beach in Mexico if I want and not having to worry about if I should pay the light bill or the water bill this month. Money is not a bad thing.

I like being able to take my wife to the beach

Money is Not the Holy Grail

But there are many things that money can't buy. When I was younger, I had an opportunity to double my salary, but the opportunity required me to travel and be away from home six days a week. If I had been a single guy, I would have jumped at the chance as I enjoy traveling. As a married guy with kids, that would have meant leaving my kids to grow up without a dad. I declined the offer, and I've never regretted it.

The problem with money is that many see it as the holy grail. If I just won the lottery, that'd fix everything. Well, it might help get you to the beach, but judging from the fact that the richest man in the world just went through a divorce, it's not the magic cureall.

We often do that to ourselves, don't we? Life would be better if we just had more money, had that new house, had that new car. But then we get it, and before long it's no longer a shiny new toy and we want something else. It's a never-ending cycle, and then we wake up in our forties or fifties realizing we've thrown away the last twenty or thirty years of our lives in pursuit of things that don't really matter while neglecting that which truly matters.

A Lesson From the Death of a Loved One

I was on a cruise earlier this year and found it fascinating talking to the people around me. There were two couples at the same table each night with us, and two of the ladies and one of the guys had their first spouse die at an early age. They had decided that taking time to enjoy life today was going to be a priority for them moving forward even if it meant putting off retirement a little longer, which is why they were on the cruise.

Make Exploring Together a Priority

What those couples had learned through the death of a loved one is the polar opposite of what many motivational speakers are out there telling us.

“Hustle harder. Outwork everyone else. When everyone else is sleeping, you should be working. Sacrifice everything to save a dime. That's how you will succeed.”

That seems to be the message that's being delivered to society today. Well, they're right. That's how you make a lot of money. But it might not be the way you want to build a life.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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