Robert Kiyosaki sitting outdoors reading.

The Money Doesn’t Bring Happiness Myth

Why money does in fact bring happiness and how it does it

The old adage goes, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Turns out, scientifically, that’s wrong. An article in “The New York Times,” details a study in Sweden of thousands of lottery winners over multiple decades. According to the Times:

  • Lottery winners said they were substantially more satisfied with their lives than lottery losers. And those who won prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars reported being more satisfied than winners of mere tens of thousands.

  • These effects are remarkably durable. They were still evident up to two decades after a big win. (The researchers lacked the data to trace out even longer-term consequences.)

The study measured happiness in lots of different ways, including subjective answers, mental health, and individual economic behavior. The result is clear, money does in fact make you happier.

What’s your view of money?

It’s not surprising that many people don’t want to believe that money can make you happier, even in the face of scientific evidence.

For one, most people don’t have money, so they like to say it will make you miserable in order to make themselves feel better for not having it.

For some, their view of money is shaped by the teachings they had as children, such as money is the root of all evil, to be avoided at all cost, not talked about, and demonized. People who make money are the enemy. It's the rich against the poor.

For others, money is everything. They'll sacrifice friends, family, and integrity to get it. It's a dog-eat-dog world. That is evil, but it doesn’t make money itself evil.

For others still, money is merely a tool.

For better or for worse, our understanding of money often shapes our life. And our understanding of money is often something that is passed down to us from a young age, received without a critical eye, and lived out in unseen ways. Because of this, money often rules us in ways we can't understand, because we don't truly understand money and the way in which it works.

Money is evil?

My poor dad had a strong belief that the love of money was evil and that excessive profit meant you were greedy.

As the head of the Hawaii school system, he felt embarrassed when newspapers published how much he made because he felt overcompensated in comparison to the teachers who worked for him. He was a good, honest, hardworking man who did his best to defend his point of view that money wasn't important in life.

My highly-educated, yet poor, dad constantly said:

“I'm not that interested in money.”

“I'll never be rich.”

“I can't afford it.”

“Investing is risky.”

“Money isn't everything.”

Unfortunately, much later in life, as he was nearing death, my dad lamented that he didn’t have much in the way of wealth to pass onto his children. His view of money changed too late in life.

Most tragically, my dad was not a very happy man at the end of his life. Not that money could have fixed everything, but I’m quite confident that if he’d been better off financially, he would’ve been happier as well.

Money is an important tool

My rich dad, my best friend’s dad, had a different point of view on money. He thought it's foolish to spend your life working for money and to pretend that money wasn't important. Rich dad believed that life was more important than money, but that money was important for supporting life.

He often said, “You only have so many hours in a day, and you can only work so hard. So, why work hard for money? Learn to have money and people work hard for you and you can be free to do the things that are important.”

To my rich dad, what was important was:

  • Having lots of time to raise his kids
  • Having money to donate to charities and projects he supported
  • Bringing jobs and financial stability to the community
  • Having time and money to take care of his health
  • Being able to travel the world with his family

“Those things take money,” said rich dad. “That's why money is important to me. Money is important, but I don't want to spend my life working for it.”

What's important to you?

Most people find the same things to be important that my rich dad did. I know my poor dad did.

The problem for my poor dad, however, was that his attitude towards money kept him poor. And because he was poor, he didn't have the ability to fully do the things that were important to him.

The truth is that money isn't everything, but it does help us do everything we love. And perhaps that’s the real thing to learn from the study in Sweden. It’s not money that brings happiness, but rather it’s the things that money allows you to do that does. It follows then that before you make money, the key thing you need to do is to determine what is most important to you and how money can help you achieve those things.

So, what's important to you? Are you freely able to do the things you love? Or are financial struggles holding you back? And how do you view money? Is it evil or is it a tool to help you do what's important?

How you answer that question changes everything.

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