Putting our happiness in the hands of money does not necessarily have to be bad. Nor is it about money being exactly happiness, but it can be happiness.
We can make good decisions with money to improve our quality of life. And to achieve this, it is important to maintain a good relationship with one’s finances.
That a person is happy thanks to money does not mean that he has a lot of money or that only having it is guaranteed happiness.
The ideal is to maintain a balance between profits and needs, because this way you can achieve the stability that is sought and achieve happiness in other aspects of life.
Let’s go back to the phrase that money can not buy happiness. In the end, we would like to think that reality is not like that. On the other hand, if we say that money actually buys happiness, they would tell us that we are materialists and that surely that is the only thing that matters.
What is relevant about this analysis is that there are already several recent scientific studies that point to the interesting relationship between happiness and money.
The result: this link is not as simple as it seems, since according to these investigations, money is an important part of our lives to achieve that little instant called happiness. And deep down we know that’s the way it is!
Some of these studies have been conducted in the field of positive psychology reveal that the countries with greater economic development are those who are most satisfied with their lives and tend to live a greater well-being.
In contrast, poor countries are more likely to have unhappy inhabitants.
Here we can see the relationship between the welfare of people with their economic potential. Although this is not a rule either, since we can find poor countries in Latin America and yet, their happiness rates are some of the highest in the world. Coincidence?
How can we achieve wellness?
There are many factors for people to reach a level of well-being. Among the most important and that play a decisive role are the social relationships of people, their interests, their attitude towards life, the activities they carry out and their goals.
And to all these points, we must add money and its way of influencing the welfare of people. How is it that they are all related?
The father of the study of happiness, Ed Diener, has done research together with a group of psychologists and economists, to find out how money influences the welfare of people. Among his conclusions, he points out that income is very important when there is little money.
It means that there is a big difference between having almost nothing and having the essentials. An example of this is when a person without income finds a job where he receives the minimum wage and thereby experiences an increase in his level of life satisfaction.
In contrast, the satisfaction of a rich person will only increase slightly when it goes from having seven million euros to eight.
According to the findings of Dr. Diener, although it is important to have sufficient capital for our needs, the materialistic attitude does not benefit the satisfaction, on the contrary, it acts against psychological well-being.
The recommendation is not to sacrifice other components of happiness, such as personal relationships, for the sake of money.
What do we spend the money on?
Researchers from Harvard University made a study that shows how, what we spend influences our happiness.
This study indicates that spending money on ourselves is not a symbol of increased well-being. However, it reveals that spending it on other people or donating it does increase our mood.
Sometimes, when we feel sad or anxious, we think we will feel better if we buy something for ourselves. Some people think that shopping is a kind of therapy when we feel “half depressed.”
But shopping can be counterproductive: there is evidence that if a person is sad, they are likely to spend more than they normally would. It is not convenient, therefore, to make financial decisions when one is in a bad mood.
Objects or experiences?
The expert in development of personal strengths Tom Rath, mentions in his research interesting differences between buying things and buying experiences, such as a good dinner, a concert or a trip.
That means that the satisfaction for what we buy is disappearing with the passage of time. And the memories of good experiences can last for a long time.
Through the Gallup survey, there have also been indications that the perception of our income is not objective, it is different factors that determine it.
For example, in a group of employees with the same salary and responsibilities, while some felt that their pay was adequate, others said no. The difference was how involved they were in their work.
Those who concentrated on their work also felt happy with their salary. It also happened with individuals who had good interpersonal relationships in their work area.
Humor in decision making
In addition to these discoveries, Tom Rath and Jim Harter found interesting another phenomenon that happens very often: many times we are irrational when it comes to making financial decisions. A sample of this that humans prefer not to lose before winning something.
To illustrate this phenomenon, let us think of a probability: first we will avoid the pain of losing ten pesos that we already had before experiencing the joy of winning ten pesos that are not ours yet.
Using credit cards is also, in some way, an irrational behavior: we know that we have to pay at some point what we acquire for months without interest, but since the time of purchase is dissociated from the moment of payment, we spend more easily.
As a good idea to stop these types of irrational attitudes, you can take a part of your salary and put it directly into a long-term bank account. The objective is that it is difficult for you to withdraw money from that account.
In the personal economy, the phrase “eyes that do not see, heart that does not feel” applies, and nothing better than not seeing the money that we are going to save monthly so as not to spend it.
In his book “The science of welfare, Tom Rath and Jim Harter talk about five elements that determine how to get to have a life in fullness, from Positive Psychology. These factors, although they are different, are related to each other to make sense of our existence:
1. Professional well-being
This element has to do with what is related to our professional growth. Mind you, this point makes us wonder how happy we are with what we do to earn a salary.
Do we really like what we do every day?
Do we feel integrated with our team?
If we feel satisfied with what we do and think that every day is a new opportunity to create new things with our work, we have a point in favor of our well-being.
On the contrary, if we feel unmotivated with our employment, we will surely feel affected over time, even damaging our health.
2. Social welfare
Having friends is the sustenance to have a life of well-being. Therefore, if your personal relationships, say friends, family and partner are good, your mind and body have even greater capacity to recover from an accident and surgery.
Part of personal well-being is how we relate to the rest. Proximity also plays a very important role: if you live close to your loved ones, your relationships with them become more stable and therefore your health levels also remain high.
On the other hand, living far from family and friends has an impact on our personal well-being.
3. Financial well-being
The point that brings us together is in this element of personal well-being. It is already proven that at some point, our economic level is related to the levels of happiness we have.
The ideal to begin to feel good and increase our quality of life is to have a balanced financial life; that is to say, to have a stable job and an income that although it is not that of a millionaire, allows us to save a little money to reach that necessary balance; we must also stop thinking that spending on ourselves will give us that little happiness.
On the contrary, what we can do to feel satisfied with ourselves is to donate a little of our income to a humanitarian cause. You will notice that not only is spending money to feel better, it is investing your money in something that will generate experiences and learnings for a lifetime.
4. Physical well-being
Health is obviously part of our total well-being. Our lifestyle will be the inheritance that we will generically leave to our children and grandchildren.
Therefore, it is important to change our diet for a healthy and balanced diet, where junk food does not have place to lower our energy levels.
The ideal is to combine natural foods with regular exercise. This activity strengthens our immune system and gives our body that anti-stress load that keeps us awake and stable to perform our day-to-day activities and all this is a fundamental part of well-being.
It is not necessary to pay large amounts in a gym: twenty minutes of walking a day can give you that boost you need to improve your life.
5. Community welfare
The quality of life of a person also has to do with his relationship with the people where he lives. Establishing a communication with the community favors a sense of belonging.
Creating a bond with our neighbors can help us feel included in the activities of the place where we live.
As we saw, money is only a part of building your well-being. It does not represent all your happiness but, if you balance these five factors of your life with a good saving system that allows you to enjoy life, you can achieve all your goals.