Money and Happiness

As the grave looms near
Your regrets will haunt you, dear.
Moments melt like snow.

It sounds cliche, but what will you regret when you lie on your deathbed? Will you say “I wish I had done more overtime” or will you say “I wish I had spent more time with my family”?

Ambition is an admirable goal, and money is a valuable tool, but both are a means to an end: Happiness.

Having a well-paying job makes us happy because we don’t have to worry about meeting our basic needs, and can even afford to splurge on those little luxuries that bring us joy. To be independently wealthy grants us the freedom to spend our days as we wish, instead of marching to the beat of someone else’s drum.

Forbes found that the secret to happiness is not buying things, but buying experiences. A $5 coffee shared with a friend is ultimately more likely to make us happy than a $500 pair of shoes. Giving gifts makes us happier than receiving them, and spending money on hobbies and learning new things enrich us more in the long term.

A study published in Nature: Human Behaviour found that a certain amount of money is necessary to make us happy.  Globally an individual needs to earn between $60,000 and $75,000 per year to be happy in their day to day lives and individuals who earn $95,000 tend to be happy with their lives overall. However, earning more than $95,000 per year does not actually make us happier.

Money is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used both effectively and ineffectively. Money is most effective when we use to enrich ourselves, create meaningful moments with loved ones, or make our lives easier. Buying things ultimately¬†doesn’t make us as happy as experiences do, and the happiness they do provide is often short-lived.

This isn’t a financial advice blog, or a lifestyle blog. It is a blog about writing. So what does any of this have to do with writing?

Well, writing makes me happy. Working on my novel fills me with both joy and a deep sense of satisfaction. I write for a living now, and that presents me with the opportunity to learn and grow every day, which in turn makes me happier. However, in the past, I had jobs that weren’t related to writing at all. I did those jobs not because they made me happy but because they paid enough to cover my bills and still allow me to have the time I needed to write.

Those non-writing jobs were a means to an end.

That might not be the case with everyone. I’ve heard other writers say that they genuinely love their day jobs, and I am happy for them. But if you want to be a writer full time don’t lament the time you spend doing non-writing related tasks for money. Those tasks are a means to an end, and as long as you keep on writing I have no doubt that you will achieve your goals.