Guess What? Money and “Stuff” Doesn’t Make You Happy

In yesterday’s blog post we talked about the importance of living with a purpose for your spiritual health and how it all comes back to living a happy and fulfilled life. Today I want to talk about what doesn’t make you happy. We’ve talked a lot so far about why it’s important to live with purpose, and a big part of it is because it makes you feel happier and more content.

What doesn’t make you happy is money and more material possessions. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be true. Yes, of course there’s a time when a little extra cash and a more reliable car increase you happiness and decrease your stress and worries. There’s a threshold below which money and material possessions do make us happier. But once we reach a level where we live somewhat comfortably and don’t have to worry about having food in the fridge and a roof over our head, something interesting happens. From there on out, more money and more possessions simply gives us more “stuff” to worry about. In those cases an increase in material and monetary possessions doesn’t increase happiness. The goal then shouldn’t be to do everything we can to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, what makes us happy is living a purpose driven and meaningful life.

Deep down you already know this. Meaningful experiences trump material gifts anytime. We remember the fun trips we took as kids or the time we got to see a concert much more vividly than a pile of presents under the tree. Yes, there are exceptions like the year you got the new bike, but that’s when there was purpose and meaning attached to the material gift.

The goal then, when we want to increase our overall happiness and wellbeing shouldn’t be to accumulate as much money and stuff as possible. It should be to focus on having the basic needs covered so we don’t have to worry too much, and then shift our focus to experiences and relationships. That’s the true key to leading a happy and fulfilled life.

It also means focusing on finding purpose in what we do. Instead of, or better in addition to financial goals, start making ones for relationships, experiences, and the likes. Instead of focusing on that next big promotion or bonus check, or how you’ll afford a new car, spend your time and energy on the things and people that are important for you. Start living with purpose and start making a difference. That’s what will increase your happiness and wellbeing along with that of those around you.