Q. ‘Mr Bashful, we need money to ensure we are warm, sheltered, and fed, and to get toothaches fixed. We’d be unhappy without it.’
Yes, we need our basic needs met. But that just means having money can prevent unhappiness.
Someone who is hungry doesn’t say ‘I’m hungry because I have no money’; they say: ‘I’m hungry because I have no food.’ Money can solve such problems. Money can fix toothaches. It can put a roof over our heads. But to conclude that having more of it will lead to core happiness is a mistake. In fact, believing you need wealth to be happier will only create dissatisfaction.
‘So, having money doesn’t add to our core happiness, but it can prevent unhappiness?’
Correct. Money doesn’t raise a person’s ‘set point’ (core happiness); rather, it can prevent or alleviate unhappiness. That’s great. That’s important. it’s helping a person return to their set point, but it’s not raising their set point. It’s not making the person happier.
Q. ‘Mr B, if you lost your house and everything in it, and from then on had only your basic needs met, wouldn’t you be less happy?’
For a long time I would be, as I would be if a crocodile bit my leg off. But I would eventually return to my core happiness and be the same as I was before.
Q. ‘ If money doesn’t bring happiness, Mr Bashful, why do you work?’
To not go hungry. To have toothaches fixed. To avoid unhappiness. To afford life’s pleasures. To get satisfaction from the job itself. Don’t assume happy people have no aspirations. Happy people aren’t like cows content to graze: we enjoy doing, we enjoy achieving.
‘Mr Bashful, I love my retail therapy. I know it makes me happy.’
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