hap·pi·ness /ˈhapēnəs/ noun — the state of being happy. Synonyms: contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, felicity.
Money and Happiness
What is the relationship between money and happiness? Is money a cause, and happiness an effect? Or is money evil, and a hindrance to happiness?
Most people have heard contradictory assertions about money, ranging from “money makes people happier” to “money is the root of all evil.” Upon close examination, one can see the relationship between the two.
Money is a medium of exchange for values.
A person produces values and exchanges those values for money. The more values one produces and exchanges with others, the more money he or she can accumulate.
Then the person can use this money to produce more values, and purchase values from others. This is a very simplified explanation of wealth production.
What about happiness? Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is the achievement of one’s core values.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand and companies determine if they are on the right path towards fulfilling their goals.
Say a person consciously values an enriching love relationship. That person then prepares herself to experience such a relationship. Later, she meets someone that she admires, and they initiate a relationship.
That relationship then develops into a growing love relationship. She may not explicitly grasp the dynamics involved, but she feels happy.
“Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is achieving one’s values.”
This presumes that a person has chosen a hierarchy of values. If a person holds money as a high value and earns it, he or she will experience happiness.
The same is true of all values, such as self-esteem, romantic love, and aesthetic pleasures. Ultimately, however, happiness along with prosperity, and romantic love, depends on one fundamental condition.
Without this condition, one will not experience abiding happiness, prosperity, or romantic love. What is that condition?
That condition is “productive accountability”.
ac·count·a·bil·i·ty /əˌkoun(t)əˈbilədē/ noun — the fact or condition of being accountable. Synonyms: responsibility, liability, answerability.
No matter how much money or material abundance we might have, productive work is essential to our happiness. Even if a person wins a billion-dollar lottery, that person would need to engage in productive accountable activities to experience abiding happiness.
Why would even a billionaire need to engage in productive accountable activities to achieve abiding happiness?
Wouldn’t that billionaire be able to buy his/her way to happiness?
Wouldn’t that person derive happiness from the unlimited access and consumption to material goods?
The reason every adult human being needs to engage in productive accountable work is for physical and psychological survival. Higher causes or altruistic reasons or duty to one’s family, community, or nation are a bonus, but at the most basic level — we need to create in order to survive.
We don’t engage in productive work because of tacit or expressed obligations to others. The only reason to engage in productive work is for our own physical and psychological survival.
In the case of the billionaire, or any individual who is financially independent, he or she still needs to be productive in order to experience happiness. The individual who becomes financially independent, no longer works for physical survival. The individual’s material needs are already taken care of. He or she works for psychological fulfillment.
Productive work can deliver the self-esteem that is needed for psychological survival. Sexual conquests cannot deliver the self-esteem needed for psychological survival. Neither can praying, hobbies, manipulating others, drug use, criminal scores, killing, or any other activity.
In the long run, the avoidance of productive work leads to the subconscious thought, “I wish I was dead.” It causes neurosis!