“Isn’t this supposed to be a financial blog?” some of you may ask. Yes, it still is. Today, I am writing a blog post on a very important aspect of material success and that is the happiness wealth suppose to bring.
Let’s be real honest here: given a choice, we all want more money in our lives. We think that having more leads to more satisfaction and happiness. More choices and freedom to do what we want. More fulfillment in life. We tend to compare our lives with those that have more and feel dissatisfied with our current situations. Is happiness that elusive to the majority of us in modern life?
The antidote to all these comparing is choosing to be content. It is focusing on the opportunities and things that you have rather than what you don’t. I don’t know what circumstance you are in right now, but I know from experience that being unhappy for the things one doesn’t have doesn’t improve your situation. It only makes it worse. Nor am I advocating one to be fatalistic in life. It is only by first accepting one’s lot in life that one can then make improvements to it. And this is speaking not from someone who is living the high life. Not from somebody who has all the branded goods, travels around the world in luxury hotels or having a super model spouse. Not at all.
First of all, the jobs I have held so far were considered low-paying by my country’s standards. The highest pay I got from my previous jobs was $1,600/mth. And currently the job that I had only pays about $400-$500/mth. That is definitely not high rolling. The reason that I keep on finding myself jobs that don’t pay well is because I had an existing illness that companies may not want to hire me. There is job discrimination. And this is not helped by the fact that Singapore doesn’t have a good welfare system for the disadvantaged. I had to live a simple life out of necessity. It wasn’t a choice. I had every right to be angry and bitter about my life but I am not choosing to respond in that direction. I mean it was tempting. My peers were earning about $3,000 – $4,000/mth and probably having the good life. Some of them were married and had beautiful wives. But, me? I am still single. But I have come to realize that whatever happens to me in my life, I had a choice on how to respond to it. I wasn’t dealt with a set of good cards but hey, I still had cards to play. Some people don’t even have a complete set of cards to play.
So, I choose to be grateful for the little things in life. Like having a job to pay bills despite having an illness. Or having a family that supports me in what I do. Or having friends that encourage me when I am down. Or having the opportunity to invest despite earning a low income. I mean it could have happened to someone else, but it happened to me. It’s good to have plans for financial freedom and all, but ultimately, money is just a tool to get what you want or need. For me, it’s the connection with my friends and family that makes me happy. Definitely, a lack of money can contribute to unhappiness. But is the flipside true? Would great riches like $10 million dollars of investment capital make you very fulfilled? There is a theory in economics which is the law of diminishing returns. In simple English, what it means is the more of what you do or have for something, the less effect it would have on you. So, you may need to eat one plate of chicken rice if you felt hungry. You may find it very delicious after consuming it. But to eat 10 or 20 plates of it at one shot, you may vomit everything out as you feel your stomach can’t handle all that amount of chicken rice.
I believe it is also true for money. Maybe for some of you here, an investment capital of $1 million dollars can provide a very good lifestyle. But to have excess money in terms of $7 – $10 million and above, the benefit money provides at that level would be lesser than someone who had $2 million dollars of investment capital. And money doesn’t come free. You had to work hard to get it. In the book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware, the second top regret of the dying is that they wish they hadn’t worked so much. Why do they work so hard for? Obviously, it’s for the money and the perceived better lifestyle it supposedly brings. And if having more is good, why do they regret working so hard before they die? Possibly because great riches isn’t everything. In Christianity, there are two out of the many bible verses that describes moderation in wealth: “First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.” (Proverbs 30:8 NLT); “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. (Proverbs 23:4 NLT)
In a closing thought, renowned pastor Rick Warren in the United States has this to say about being content with your finances. He said,” There is two ways to be satisfied with what you have. You can work more or want less. One of them is a hard way, and the other the easier way.” This is not to say that I embrace laziness or lack of ambition. It is good to have plans for yourself. But like health and nutrition, it is important to have balance and moderation. Water for example, is a healthy drink. But drink too much water at one go, and you can be intoxicated by water. It is a fatal condition known as hyponatremia. The same is true (I believe) for wealth. Are you constantly working too hard that you have little time for yourself to recharge? Are you on the verge of burn out? You need to spend time to relax.
After all that’s been said, I hope you guys can find meaning and happiness in everything that you do. What’s your view on wealth and happiness? Share it in the comments section below!