Last week, I wrote about why the adage “Winners never quit” is a bunch of B.S. This week, another B.S. cliché: Money can’t buy you happiness.
I’m calling B.S. on this one, too.
Last week, I spent two days with Don Miller, NY Times bestselling author and previous speaker at our annual Boot Camp event, at his home here in Nashville. He built the home to be a place to bring people together – his family, his friends and fellow entrepreneurs. It’s a magical place he calls Goose Hill.
When Don talks about it, you can see the joy it’s brought him. Real happiness. I feel the same way about my homes, both here and at the beach. They bring me real happiness. A place where my family can come together and make memories. Both are places of tranquility and beauty that have made me – and continue to make me – very, very happy.
The common theme? They cost money to build and maintain.
My friend Joe Polish accurately calls money “fun tickets.” Money has allowed me to hire a personal chef and a housekeeper, giving me more time with my family, to relax and do the things I want to do. This makes me happy. Money has allowed me to support my extended family, paying for home repairs, utilities, car payments, clothes, food, etc. This makes me happy. Money has allowed me to donate to charities, pay off medical bills, funerals and more than one car loan for many people in need – all of these things have brought me great happiness and fulfillment. And having money hasn’t alienated me from any of my true friends. In fact, it’s given me the ability to connect with, learn from and get access to people I deeply respect and admire, expanding my circle of friendships.
I’m not telling you this to brag, and I know there are some people who stopped reading at the paragraph above, their hair on fire with outrage and fury that I would be so obnoxious and conceited as to dare MENTION my wealth. As the saying goes, opinions are like arseholes. Everyone’s got one. If that’s you, I would encourage you to hop on over to Reddit and join the bitchy anonymous cowards who derive great pleasure in spewing hate online. You don’t belong here with the winners.
But if you’re still with me, here’s a more truthful statement: Money won’t guarantee happiness.
You can be great at making money but a failure as a parent or spouse. You can have big homes and nice cars and be in terrible health. You can have high net worth and be depressed, addicted and living in despair. But those things happen to poor people as well, so it’s not money alone that solves or creates such situations, ensuring happiness or the lack thereof.
All things being equal, having money certainly provides more OPTIONS for happiness. It also provides a means for solving the stress that a lack of money creates. I recently learned of a family that has two very sick children in need of several medical procedures; the wife is a schoolteacher and the husband a stay-at-home dad who quit his job out of necessity to take care of the special medical needs of their children. They are struggling financially. You cannot tell me that someone paying off their home and car won’t bring them relief from the added anxiety of medical bills and providing for their children. Will it make them happy when someone steps up to do this? I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty certain it won’t make them less happy.
You know who can take that stress away from them? Someone with money.
Let me also add that if your pursuit of money is destroying your physical or mental health, or the relationships with your family, or it’s simply making you miserable, you probably ought to pause and reflect on your approach. Accumulating wealth does require commitment, hard work and sacrifice, but it does not require that you burn yourself to ashes along with everyone around you.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are not as financially sound as you’d like, don’t just sit on the sidelines sucking a lemon, hating the rich and repeating over and over again, “Money won’t buy happiness,” as a balm to your misery and disappointment. Be grateful for what you have and happy with or without money, but don’t believe for a second that staying poor or not pursuing greater wealth will make you any happier either.