Does money bring happiness?
That’s one hell of a question.
My gut response is always, “No, certainly you can be happy without money.”
The happiest moments of my life have had absolutely nothing to do with money.
But, then again…
All other things being equal, I’d choose money over no money every time.
Because, being happy when you’re broke is no easy task.
Scrambling to pay the bills… wanting things you can’t have… needing things you can’t afford… stretching and pushing to make ends meet… that’s no way to live.
Money can give you a lot of things… a nice house, beautiful things, education, travel, a certain level of safety…
When you’re sick, money buys medicine.
When your car breaks down, money buys you a mechanic’s help and a ride home.
Money keeps you from living in bad neighborhoods.
Money buys you a security system, an investment account, and insurance.
Money is also freedom…
You don’t have to work 12-hour days if you’ve got money in the bank.
And, if you have enough money, you can quit that crappy day job altogether and be free to pursue what you love.
So there it is… a life of beautiful things, education, adventure, freedom, and security.
It’s the good life, right?
Maybe money does buy happiness after all…
(Or, something really close.)
Because, there’s a reason we fight poverty worldwide…
There’s a reason charities rise up to feed, clothe, and educate people around the world.
There’s a reason scholarships exist, and parents save for years to send their children to good colleges.
There’s a reason we build our resumes, buy nice suits, and learn how to give good handshakes.
We do it because money opens doors and creates opportunity.
We go to school and work 40 hours a week because money has the power to ease suffering.
Money makes life easier.
Money is a very good thing.
So, why is it when people win the lottery, or make it big, they suddenly find themselves disappointed?
Some people work for decades to achieve financial freedom only to feel completely empty once it finally arrives.
They strangely experience heartbreak, and some even feel deeply depressed?
Some folks even self-destruct by doing coke and crashing their luxury cars.
So, what gives?
The truth is… money is in charge of building the house.
Money builds the framework.
It builds the walls, the foundation, the windows, and doors of your life.
And, money builds that house frame with the finest materials: security, stability, freedom, and choice.
Living in that shelter feels good. You have protection, safety, and options.
But, money is ONLY in charge of the framework.
That house is still empty.
The things that go inside the house are things that money cannot buy.
Self worth goes inside.
Passion goes inside.
A deep understanding of yourself goes inside.
Your truth goes inside.
Your life’s work, your art, and all of your creative projects go inside.
Emotional wellbeing goes inside.
Meaningful, healthy relationships go inside.
Your beliefs and principles go inside.
Here’s the thing… some folks spend their time only on the framework, while others spend their time only on the inside.
If you choose to spend your time only on the framework, your house will get bigger and bigger, but it will remain empty.
Because, no amount of money can replace the things that belong inside.
Despite the rumors and pop culture myths, money can never fill that house.
That’s just not how it works.
And, the skill set required to fill your house is complex, nuanced, and hard won.
The skill set required to live your principles, discover your truth, do work that lights you up, and create meaningful connections with others… It might take a lifetime to properly fill your house.
And then there are other people who spend their time building their values and principles while giving money the middle finger.
Who needs money? I’ve got integrity.
I don’t need financial stability… I’ve got great friendships and meaningful conversation.
They fill up their space but don’t bother to build any walls or a roof around it.
Deep down, maybe they’re afraid that if they let money build them a house, it will ruin everything they’ve worked so hard for.
They might believe that having money will tarnish those beliefs and values they’ve spent so much time honing and practicing.
Maybe they think that to live with money is to give up a life of service, art, or true contribution.
Maybe they stay small. They keep a tight budget, stay at that job they don’t really like, and they choose not to believe that they want something more.
Maybe they didn’t grow up with a solid framework, so they push it aside and tell themselves it’s not for them.
Maybe it’s all the above.
But, because they don’t let money build them a strong foundation, they live in fear of a storm.
They don’t have a solid financial structure holding them to the earth, so they feel unsteady.
If a strong wind comes along, they worry.
Because, it’s uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking to live without a house, a solid framework.
They simply don’t enjoy all this world has to offer because they refuse to let money do its job.
So, don’t be like the fools who force themselves to pick one or the other.
Don’t flip off the framework of your house and ignore the doors and windows.
Don’t treat money as if it were insignificant and unnecessary, a burden, or the root of all evil.
And, don’t fall into the trance of believing money can both build your house and fill it up.
Because, no amount of money can ever ease the heartache of an empty house.
Instead of choosing one or the other, choose both.
Let yourself live in the house that money built and always be working to fill it up with the best of things.