Without thinking too deeply, the answer to the question “Can Money buy happiness?” of course is yes. The thought of money alone, for a small business owner, brings about happiness. The images of a new house, a shiny G-Wagon, or as people used to say all those years ago, “Landcruiser FullTime”; a new shiny office in Ikoyi or VI, and of course, the many trips abroad for business and pleasure are all trimmings of happiness…on the face of it.
But here’s the thing. Clever people also called researchers, especially those who have a lot of time on their hands, have actually spent a lot of time thinking about what really makes people happy, and in particular, if money makes people happy. And this is what they have found out – it does, money actually makes people happier, but only for a short period. Within a few months, after spending your newly acquired coins on designer clothes and shoes with red soles and the like, you’re no happier than you were when you were not quite so rich. But why is this? It is because what really makes you happy long term is not money.
Now, before we start rolling our eyes, we are not talking about extreme poverty here. We are talking about people who are able to meet their basic needs, even if they do so with some strain. Entrepreneurs and professionals who are on track to attaining relative success in their businesses or in their careers.
So, back to our clever friends. These researchers have found that some people are in fact born to be happy. Roughly 50% of an average person’s happiness is in their genes! A whopping 40% of your happiness depends on your choices and your behavior in life, and how you choose to view and place your situation.
In other words, if you believe that driving a Toyota at the age of 45 instead of a Lexus depicts failure, then yes, you will be unhappy. “If only my wife was a few shades yellower, or could make money like Mrs. Alakija…”. But if you choose to count your blessings instead, and drive your Toyota as if it was a Lexus, then you stand a better chance at being happy; maybe even happier than a Lexus owner. Interestingly, only 10% of your happiness is decided by your circumstances – what skills you were born with, were you born middle-class or on the other side of town – the things we feel money can change.
And to be honest, yes money can indeed change many of these things. In fact, with the right Wikipedia entries and a change of name, you can even change your entire history and get a new profile altogether. We have seen it done at the highest levels of government after all. You can buy new His & Hers body parts, and even remove one or two layers of the dreaded melanin. Yet these things don’t guarantee happiness. In fact, chances are, you will be back to your sad ways even after the skin bleaching and liposuction procedures on your dear wife have been completed successfully.
So, what’s the deal then? Well, you need to find meaning in life. And no, chasing money doesn’t count as a fulfilling pursuit. Commit yourself to something bigger than you… like a bullion van. Ok, maybe not that either. Something wholesome. And it’s best you do it in a setting that involves other people. Because you see, the happiest people, are the people who are constantly engaged in positive relationships and are involved in “giving” of themselves to causes – religion (yes, religion actually makes you happier, and this has been proved scientifically), school boards, village meetings, social clubs, and the like. Those things we think are a waste of time because we’re too busy chasing money, are the very things that will make us happier, AND help us live longer. Yes, you read that correctly. Happy people live longer and healthier than unhappy people.
Finally, you must totally engage yourself in something you enjoy doing. Something that calls on your skills, which you know you have, but challenges you enough not to be boring. Again, we’re talking about wholesome pursuits, not selling drugs or perfecting online scams. And so if you are a painter, immerse yourself. Learn new tricks of the trade. Engross yourself till you lose track of time while doing it. When you add this to the other suggestions above, you are well on your way to lasting happiness and fulfillment.