You need money to be happy. Yes, I said it. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psych 101? It’s a framework to understand our needs and how we first must meet our basic needs (e.g., food, shelter) before we can hope to fill our more idealistic needs (e.g., love, self-respect). It’s no different with money. Money can provide safety and security. It can provide opportunities for growth and experience.
But everyone says money can’t buy happiness. For all the people who are living in poverty, who are wondering how they’re going to pay rent this month, who are worried there isn’t going to be enough food for dinner, who lie to their kids when they tell them the hole in their shoe is small and that nobody will notice, who can’t afford medical insurance for their children, or who can’t sleep because they are worried about losing their job, I say think again. If you are struggling to survive, you don’t want to hear about how money can’t buy happiness. It can buy food, pay the rent, and give you a little peace of mind.
When you are in survival mode, your dreams and goals go out the window. When you’re scrambling to pay the bills each month, you probably aren’t thinking about your higher purpose. Instead, you are swimming against the current and going nowhere. Picture a man floating in the water. You probably see his head merrily bobbing along between the waves. He seems to be enjoying a nice swim. What you can’t see are his arms and legs flailing desperately under the water trying to just keep from sinking.
When all of your energy is focused on surviving, you don’t have the time, energy, or ability to have a rich or meaningful life. So if you’re in debt or struggling financially, use some of your other 8 hours to focus on making some extra money. Get off the financial ledge.
Your other 8 hours are your passport to a better life. It’s up to you how you invest this time. You can waste them or you use them to live a more fulfilled life. If you are struggling financially, you NEED to use some of this time to get on more secure financial ground. If you don’t, it will be almost impossible to lead a fulfilling life.
Some of my happiest times are playing hide-and-seek with my daughter, chasing her at the park, and playing the “painful game” (FYI – I’m the one in pain!) with her. None of these activities cost anything, but here’s the catch. If I didn’t have enough money to meet my basic needs, I wouldn’t have the time, energy, or probably even the desire to do these things. Money is the foundation that life and experience sits on.
Don’t box yourself into the corner thinking life is about making money or being happy. You can, and must do both. They are not mutually exclusive. It’s not money vs. meaning. It’s money and meaning.
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