The pursuit of happiness is a long and winding path, often fraught with questions, options and a constant compulsion of evaluation or questioning. In recent years, this has been a hot topic to investigate with books, articles and studies devoted to the subject to quantify this seemingly elusive notion of inner fulfilment. Many social and cultural philosophies of wellness and healthy living offer their guidelines to navigate the topic, but always endorse happiness and its value.
Happiness creates a non-algorithmic duality of individualistic pursuit, inherently freeing, personally definable, yet coupled with a deep human need of social factors such as; inclusion, security and of course, relationships.
People define and look for happiness in a variety of ways; some may decide to travel the world on a quest of discovery, others may look for new relationships to nourish their soul, some might go on lavish spending sprees and many may be unsure of how to actually achieve or define happiness. Many people find that life coaching helps with their personal development, hence the popularity of coaches these days.
Something that brings one person unbounded elation, may indeed provide others with overwhelming anxiety. So, join this quest to discover if Happiness is a state of mind, or something that can indeed be enhanced by external factors such as money and the material world.
Epicurus, Aristotle or Both?
Greek Mythology communicated two main perspectives on a life of fulfilment. Epicurus said that a happy life is one of the short term high, instantaneous gratification and hedonistic pursuits, endorsing a world of pleasure and adrenaline.
Aristotle, on the other hand, said that a life of genuine contentment is routed in virtuous activities, that are fundamentally purposeful. Social contribution therefore equates to true eudemonia.
In 2011 the United Nations passed ‘the Happiness Resolution’ asking all countries of the world to focus more on Wellbeing to improve quality of life. Bhutan fundamentally embrace the Gross National Happiness index which focuses on wellbeing rather than on Gross Domestic Profit (GDP).
Money has its place in creating our happiness, according to Meik Wiking of the University of Copenhagen’s ‘Happiness Research Institute’. In fact, Meik says ‘if money and happiness were to describe their relationship on Facebook, it would read; its complicated’. He talks about a range of factors that contribute to the bigger picture, including; money, health, freedom, trust, kindness and relationships.
In richer countries, people are happier, but that is not to say there is a direct correlation between a healthy mind and a healthy Bitcoin balance. Or is there?
Moreover, the connection is likely to be related to unhappiness directly associated with the lack of money. As Meik states in his book ‘The Little Book of Lykke; the Danish search for the World’s Happiest People’ ‘when money means that we can put food on the table, have a roof over our head and support our children, money has the power to turn misery into happiness’.
Objectivity seems to naturally flow through my Libran persona and I therefore cannot resist to mention that many theorists say that truly sustained happiness derives from both Hedonistic and Purposeful actions. In the words of the great Dr Tim Houlding: ‘Find a balance that works knowing that everything changes’. Both Epicurus and Aristotle were right.
Pro – Social Spending
Financial gain does not always have to remain in the depths of Hedonistic living, with seemingly empty, short term gratification. With winnings and financial accumulation, comes a certain excitement and inherent responsibility, relating not only to which materials goods can be purchased, but what experiences can be enjoyed, and societal change can take place.
Leaning slightly towards Aristotle’s eudemonia perspective we learn that experiences are more likely to make us happy, as they feed our sense of identity and purpose. So, take that trip, book that retreat, do that course and use the winnings to enhance your life!
These purchases bring us closer to other people, which according to the Japanese philosophy ‘Ikigai’ is a major factor in living a healthy and happy life. In their book ‘Ikigai; the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life’ Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles discuss the premise of this culturally anthropological outlook which encompasses understanding yourself, your passion, mission, vocation and indeed profession.
Thankfully money cannot directly ‘purchase’ these things, but spent carefully, can indeed give us the opportunity to search for greater meaning in life, rather than being caught in the tediousness of a financially deficient existence.
Money provides Choice, Freedom and Progression
Money certainly doesn’t buy happiness and I advocate this notion. There are some financially ‘rich’ people who are totally miserable and those with the smallest of bank balances who exude a delightfully carefree disposition.
However, money can offer several secondary benefits beyond the realms of that Miami Blue Porsche 911 Targa; a debt free life, reduction of daily stress and financial confidence.
Education offers a profound route to self-development, career enhancement and personal enquiry. Whether you’re a kinaesthetic, auditory or visual learner, gathering knowledge about the world we live in and making your contribution is a gift. Use some of your finances to explore and indulge your educational curiosities. Find a tutor that gels with the way you learn, then grow with their style.
If something brings you pleasure and you wish to indulge yourself with some retail therapy, go and enjoy it! The key, however, for sustaining those initial endorphins are within turning your newfound wealth into something that involves lasting emotional prosperity. Using your financial fortune for the short term and long-term quality of life. Invest in yourself, in society and those you love. A truly fulfilling life is rich with people, love, relationships, family, creativity, hope, social interaction, kindness, physical activity, healthy diets, secure abodes, freedom to travel, education and many other factors. Finances can and will contribute to a number of these factors; spend wisely, live fully and share unconditionally, for a happy and fulfilling life.
About the author
David Bailey-Lauring is a single father of three boys so he knows what it takes to stretch a budget when it comes to family finances! David is a content writer and regularly writes about sport, fitness, education and lifestyle in the UK, USA, and Europe.