(vi) Myth: Money allows us to flourish.

 ‘Mr Bashful, if I were wealthy I could give up my lousy job and follow my heart – I could write my book and say all the things I’ve been aching to say. My soul would be nourished and I would enjoy my life considerably. Therefore, surely having that money would make me happier?’

 Yes, money is wonderful stuff – it can help charities do their work and it can help us follow our heart. Yes, you need money to follow your heart and write your book, but you also need a keyboard, a computer, time, electricity, your typing fingers, etc. To say your keyboard is adding to your core happiness would be silly; to say money is adding to your core happiness is just as silly. It’s the act of following your heart which is contributing to your core happiness. Those other things: money, time, electricity . . . are just the means.

‘You seem to be against money.’

I’m not. My concern is that many people focus on making money, in the belief that having lots of it will make them happier. But how much happier would they be if instead they focused on following their heart?

‘But Mr B, we can also flourish by enjoying the luxuries of life – fine food and wine, the Arts, the best the world has to offer. We need money to flourish. Poor people don’t have that opportunity.’

I can’t see how a human being can flourish by spending their wealth on luxuries at the expense of not helping blind people in Third World countries see again. How is that flourishing? And thousands of people could flourish at the expense of one senior executive wanting to “flourish” with a new yacht.
Yes, wealth would aid our ability to discern a good wine from an excellent wine, and to appreciate many other fine things in life, but those abilities are simply abilities – they don’t make the person. Just because our abilities flourish doesn’t mean we do. It’s a person we’re building, not an Arts catalogue.

For more about why money doesn’t make us happy, click here.

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