Monday, June 14, 2010

Does Money Make You Happy?

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Studies on lottery winners in the 1970s reported that people who hit the jackpot claimed to have no noticeable difference in their level of happiness a year or so after coming into more money. In fact, aside from resources for basic survival and comfort needs, people who earn higher salaries often report the same or lower levels of satisfaction with their lives compared to others. So why is your multimillion dollar lawyer less content than your starving artist? Let me tell you a quick little story…


A fisherman off the coast of South America brings in his catch everyday and a visiting tourist from Harvard in America notices the fisherman coming into port. He asks where the man caught such great big fish, and the fisherman explains that there are many out in the channel nearby. So the Harvard man says that the fisherman should go back and catch more. The fisherman asks why, because he spends most of his day taking a siesta with his wife, playing guitar with his friends in the evenings, and drinking wine with dinner. Upon hearing this, the man from Harvard sets him straight.
“No, no, no,” he explains. “You should go catch more fish. Then you will earn more money from selling them.”
“And then what?” the fisherman inquires.
“Then you’ll have enough money to hire more hands to catch more fish and make even more money,” the Harvard man says.
            “Then what?”
            “Then you can buy a canning factory and sell directly to customers around the world.”
            “Then what?”
            “Then you’ll have more money and can set yourself up in New York and people will buy stock in your company.”
            “Then what?”
            “Then you’ll manage your corporation for many years and eventually sell your own stock in the company and retire.”
            “Then what?”
            “Then you can hang out near the beach, catch a few fish for fun, have siestas with your wife, play guitar with your friends, and drink wine in the evenings.”
            The fisherman simply shakes his head, shrugs, and walks off to go have a siesta with his wife.


Obviously, this isn’t my story, but the idea is the same. You don’t need to be rich to enjoy the very best of life. And it’s in living, not in making money, that we truly find purpose.