It’s a saying that comes up time and time again. So many people will continue to tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness. They’ll tell you stories of all the people who won the lottery, only to be miserable a few short years later. They’ll tell you tales of humble folks who couldn’t be more satisfied with their lives.
More recently, the story came up about Markus Persson, better known by his online handle “Notch.” He’s the guy who created Minecraft, subsequently selling the game to Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion. Persson recently tweeted about how depressed and isolated he feels today, spending his days alone in his $70 million Beverly Hills mansion.
Neither Doesn’t Being Poor
So, money can’t buy happiness, right? Well, that’s only part of the picture. Another way to think about it is that poverty isn’t going to bring you happiness either. In fact, poverty is much more likely to make you pretty darn miserable.
A number of studies have indicated that there is a certain level of diminishing returns when it comes to wealth and income. After you make enough to take care of your family’s basic needs — housing, food, clothing, etc. — more money won’t necessarily make you any happier. You might be able to buy nice things, but that $70 million mansion isn’t going to make you much happier than a $60 million mansion.
That’s one way that “Notch” incorrectly approached this “problem” of being remarkably wealthy. He thought he could just buy nice things, throw extravagant parties and be happy. It doesn’t work that way. Money is a means, not an end.
It’s More Comfortable Crying on a Yacht
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can place you in more comfortable circumstances. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be crying in the back seat of my luxurious Maybach than weeping in the front seat of a ’81 Toyota Tercel. I’d rather be pondering my direction in life while sailing on a yacht than doing the same while sitting on the curb outside of Walmart.
There’s another commonly held misconception about the value of making money on the Internet. Many people think that the biggest perk to online business is the money itself. It’s not. It’s much more about placing yourself in a situation that is more comfortable, more flexible, and more in line with what you want to do, when you want to do, where you want to do it.
I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty safe to say that hanging out in a 23,000 square foot mansion in Beverly Hills sounds a lot more appealing than scraping by in a shoebox-sized apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. You are a product of your surroundings, just as much as your surroundings are a product of you.
It Can Buy Freedom
And that’s really what it comes down to. Money, in and of itself, probably can’t buy you happiness. But if you use it correctly, it can be an invaluable tool that can provide greater flexibility, incredible freedom, and a much improved sense of self-worth. And it buys time for life, rather than making you live to work.
Or, as Ben Affleck’s character in Boiler Room once said, “Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t f***ing have any.” Money isn’t evil. Money doesn’t equal happiness. Money is neutral and it’s what you make of it that counts.